The 3,000 students at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Weber State University have studied everything they need to know to run the world when they take over, and that's good.
Judging by the results, the current operators -- that's us -- are working blind.
Every possible subject was there.
Friday morning, Daniel Owens, a student at Hope College in Holland, Mich., give an interesting analysis of peacekeeping efforts in west Africa.
Then Matthew Willis, a student at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., talked about French involvement in Vietnam after World War II.
Or consider our own Amanda Truong, a WSU senior who's fascinating on many levels.
She's of Chinese descent, but born in England. Her grandparents fled Vietnam after the war and sent half of their children to England and half to Utah.
When she was 10, Amanda came to Utah and went to Bonneville High, then WSU.
She was presenting her genetic research on brine flies, and her face lit up as she talked. She wants to be a medical doctor, a surgeon, but she also wants to get her Ph.D. so she can do research.
How does that coincide with brine flies?
"I'm researching genetics, and genes are all alike, just with humans, they're longer," she said.
She has been mentored by a pediatric neurosurgeon in Indianapolis who studied in Utah, but Amanda is taking a year off after graduation to finish her research before grad school.
Or consider Kelsey Lindquist.
Nice person. She's a WSU art history major. Her undergraduate research was on saddle makers in Utah, which both fascinated and saddened me.
Utah's a very Western place. Western horse saddles are symbols of our culture.
Someone has to make them, and Kelsey wanted to do an oral history project on saddle making as folk art. With a grant from the Chase Home Museum of Folk Art in Salt Lake City, she started interviewing and made some discoveries.
"I realized the saddle makers I was interviewing held this romantic image of the West," she said. To them, the saddle, and the cowboy on it, represented freedom and independence and all that.
"But it really represents conflict and destruction. We won the West, but the land was already settled" by Native Americans, Kelsey said.
Plus, "a lot of saddle makers are reluctant to admit that saddle making is art," which is ironic, because saddle making, at least on the individual artisan level, could be a dying craft.
The Utah Folk Arts program used to give $1,500 grants to people who wanted to learn saddle making. That's just enough to buy the leather, Kelsey said, but it's a huge help to someone trying to learn.
"The Utah Folk Arts Council recently dismantled because of budget cuts," Kelsey said, leaving her concerned that future saddle makers are going to have a harder time.
Anyone else saddened that Utah, the most western of Western states, can't find money to preserve quality saddle making? The ghosts of Read Brothers or Charles and George Cross, Ogden saddle makers who worked for more than a century, are going to haunt someone, and they should.
"I met this individual in Randolph who was anxious to teach leather working at the local high school" in the hopes of sparking interest in the skills of his trade, Kelsey said.
But the school said no.
Oh well, it's only our culture. No biggie.
For her graduate work, Kelsey is deciding between the University of Utah or the Chicago Institute of Art.
Whichever one gets her is lucky. She'll be a new voice speaking out for art and culture, and we need more like her.
The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232 or email@example.com. He also blogs at www.standard.net.