Delayed Gratification

Uh-oh.  A former chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Drexel University has been arrested after spending nearly $200,000 in research-grant funds at strip clubs and sports bars, as well as on meals and iTunes.  No joke. 

Defending financial wrongdoing of this magnitude would seem to be an impossible task, but at least one high-profile source of support for the miscreant professor has emerged.  On Wednesday, ABET, the global accreditor of college and university programs in fields such as computing and engineering, issued a public statement urging the district attorney in this case to “cut the professor some slack,” and offered the following justification:

“ECE students are legendary for being obsessed with studying during their undergraduate and graduate years.  During that period they do not engage in the types of recreational pursuits enjoyed by their non-ECE peers.  On average, ECE majors do not lose their virginity until the age of 41, have no experience with alcohol beyond an occasional Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and have never gone to a movie. 

“Virtually none of them have dated, and they have no concept of popular music.  Most think that Beyoncé is the brand name of a fabric softener, and that Bruno Mars is ‘Bruno, Mars’, the capital city of a planet in our solar system.  Their diet consists almost exclusively of Ramen Noodles, black coffee, and Twizzlers.  An astonishingly high percentage of these folks have absolutely no idea of how human reproduction takes place.

“With these facts in mind, is it any wonder that a small number of ECE professors go rogue when they eventually become aware of all the temptations that the rest of us have been lucky enough to encounter much earlier in our lives?  The Drexel professor in this case is 57 years old. Is it too much to ask, ‘When will his time for happiness come?’  A $100 bill tucked into the thong of a pole dancer in South Philly every now and then would seem to be a small price to pay for an ECE professor’s lifelong dedication to his career.”

ABET may have a point.