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“This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us”: Two Engineering Educator Careers, One Department

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Advice for Dual-Career Couples

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1487.1 - 10.1487.5



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Paper Authors

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J.W. Bruce

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Lori Bruce

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

“This town ain’t big enough for the both of us”: Two Engineering Educator Careers, One Department

J.W. Bruce1 and Lori M. Bruce Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Mississippi State University

ABSTRACT Demands and stresses on a dual-career couple can be great. When the couple works in the same department, it starts to become difficult to separate professional and person life. Each dual-career couple must work out their own arrangements for dealing with communication, confidentiality, and emotional support. However, each person in the couple must strive from the first day to maintain a separate professional identity and manage the inevitable conflicts of interest that will arise when two people work in such close proximity to each other. The authors share some experiences and advice on dealing with dual careers within the same department.

Prologue The quintessential western movie ends with the showdown on the deserted, dusty Main Street. Two gunslingers, a cowboy and a cowgirl, stand nose-to-nose, grimacing with anger and resolve. The duelers stare down each other with steely eyes and dirt-stained faces. The cowgirl with the white hat says confidently, “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us”. The cowboy, dressed in black from head to toe except the shiny silver belt buckle like a serving tray, responds with “Then, let’s do something about it.”

The gunslingers turn briskly and take ten paces in opposite directions. The lovable, soft-spoken town physician slowly slinks out of the squeaky swinging saloon doors to officiate the gunfight. Taking his red handkerchief from his coat pocket, the physician raises the blood red cloth over his head. The desperados steady their stances, digging their heels into the sandy dirt for traction. Their right hands dangling by their sides, they wiggle their fingers impatiently. Their left hands are clinched into tight fists like granite boulders. The physician turns his head away, as if trying to shield his face from a hot, dry, Santa Ana dust storm. He emphatically swings his arm and handkerchief down to his side, while straightening his back. The gunslingers move in a fluid motion toward their holsters, grabbing their trusty Remingtons. In flash of blue steel, guns are raised from the hip as their triggers pull back and release…

Then, I sit straight up in bed. It’s 5:50AM and I have awoken before the alarm goes off. I had that dream again. Why do I keep having this stupid dream?

1 Corresponding author can be contacted via email at or by phone at (662) 325-1530. Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Bruce, J., & Bruce, L. (2005, June), “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us”: Two Engineering Educator Careers, One Department Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14487

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