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The Ups and Downs of Making Elevators Go

Theresa Christy, a mathematician at Otis Elevator Co., has dedicated her career to developing systems that make elevators run as perfectly as possible.

A profile in The Wall Street Journal details some of the challenges of her job, whether it’s determining how to get people to the Empire State Building’s Observation Deck faster or designing elevator systems at a hotel in the holy city of Mecca that can clear a building quickly enough to get most people out five times a day for prayer.

“From her sparse second-floor office in a leafy office park in Farmington, Conn.,” writes WSJ Reporter Kate  Linbaugh, “she writes strings of code that allow elevators to do essentially the greatest good for the most people—including the building's owner, who has to allocate considerable space for the concrete shafts that house the cars. Her work often involves watching computer simulation programs that replay elevator decision-making.”

"I feel like I get paid to play videogames,” she said in the article. “I watch the simulation, and I see what happens, and I try to improve the score I am getting.”

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.

Start Date: 
Friday, December 14, 2012