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Pittsburgh Philadelphia, December 12, 880.

In the southwestern part of Philadelphia lies the county of Allegheny. There, a new factory was being built. Despite the snowy weather, the construction workers were busy moving about in the scaffolding, carrying buckets of wet concrete and tools as they currently build a four-story apartment where the workers of the Axelsen & Nielsen Air Brake Company will be staying. Adjacent to the apartment was the future cafeteria where workers can purchase food during break time. A clinic was also being built ten meters to the right of the cafeteria for emergency purposes.

In the rutted streets, horse-drawn carriages carrying construction supplies such as concrete, steel beam, pipes, et cetera drove in a single line as the next line was being dug by forty laborers to make way for the water and sewage system of the town the company is building for the workers.

Next to the main street was the seventy thousand square feet factory that is nearing completion. Engineers and construction workers coordinated with each other as they installed six overhead cranes and placed various factory equipment for the production of the company product.

Fifty meters north of the factory was the steel mill. Seven horses worked together to pull a fifteen-ton pearl-shaped Bessemer converter that would allow the mass production of steel, a raw material for the air brake, locomotive draft gear, and for the future invention of the company.

Yes, despite the snowy weather, where everyone was shivering from the cold, they still continued working around the clock as they were meeting a deadline. A deadline that could decide the fate of the Axelsen & Nielsen Air Brake Company.

Speaking of the company, the founders were in their offices. Compared to the last site in Columbus where the office is located inside the factory, in this county, their offices were located outside. It was a two-story house, a two-minute walk away from the factory.

This is to lessen the impact of the noises from the pneumatics and hydraulics of the equipment in the factory that was disturbing them.

In the office space of the house, Poul was lying on the sofa, reading newspapers while having a bite of steamed corn on the cob. His mouth munching on the delicious kernels as his eyes are scanning the pages of the paper.

"Hmm…" Poul hummed as one piece of news piqued his interest. He lifted his upper body up to take a better look at it. It seemed that he found a new article. The headline reads 'The Saint of London'.

He took another bite of the corn and continued reading the article. "The daughter of the Prime Minister of the British Empire, Princess Penelope Ascart, was awarded the highest honor, the order of merit, after successfully ending the cholera outbreak that plagued the capital city, saving hundreds of thousands…Interesting."

Poul took his third bite and resumed reading. From there, there was a brief introduction about the Princess. At the age of sixteen, she became a doctor in the Royal London Hospital and saved numerous lives which earned her the title, The Saint of Britain.

"At the age of sixteen…this princess is sure to be impressive," Poul muttered while chewing.

When he was about to turn to the next page, a door suddenly opened. Jonathan entered the room, looking at him with narrowed eyes.

"What are you doing?" Jonathan asked calmly but it carried a tinge of irritation.

"Nothing important. Just taking a leisurely break. Is something wrong?"

"I was supervising the construction of the apartment for our workers. It was doing fine until one construction worker made the mistake of pouring the cement too early. How many times did I mention that they have to take into account the temperature? It was thirty-five degrees Fahrenheit outside and the optimal temperature for pouring concrete is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Now we have to set up a bonfire near it and maintain it until it hardens," Jonathan explained sternly.

After some moments, he added, "How about you? How could you have a leisure break when we are working on a deadline? Do you know what's at stake here? Our company."

Jonathan chided in an almost scolding tone. Poul chuckled at his partner's annoyance.

"Okay okay, don't get too fired up, Jonathan. Come on, cool your head a bit. Here, have some cold distilled water," Poul offered him a glass of water.

Jonathan merely stared at it and spoke. "The applicants for an engineering position are already outside. You have to supervise the test."

Poul brought the glass of water down on the table as he let out a sigh.

"Fine, if that makes you feel better. Seriously, we are on schedule, there's nothing to be stressed about."

Poul walked out of the office and closed the door behind him, leaving Jonathan alone in the room.

Outside, Poul took a peek and saw a line of nervous gentlemen preparing themselves for a test. According to the application form that they passed a week ago, those gentlemen graduated from an esteemed university. Meaning they are taught by the best of the best engineering professors in the country and are equipped with the knowledge to contribute to society.

Poul stepped outside and the young ambitious group of men promptly stood.

"I'm Poul Nielsen, founder of the Axelsen & Nielsen Air Brake Company. I see that there are forty of you. Sadly, we only accept twenty. So to sort that out, you are all going to take a test that will determine whether you will have a job or not. Think of it as your final exams. Now, before we proceed, does anyone have questions?"

When Poul asked that, no one raised their hands. He'd take that as a no.

"In that case, follow me."

The engineers followed Poul as he headed towards a makeshift classroom. Purposely built for the test only. Inside were forty sets of chairs and tables. On the table were pencils, erasers, and sheets of paper.

"This is taking you back huh?" Poul glanced behind him and saw them chuckling nervously. Although it frightened them a little, some applicants looked confident.

"Okay, go take a seat. You can sit wherever you want unless taken first by someone else." Poul instructed and immediately, the applicants took a seat on vacant seats.

Once everyone had seated themselves. Poul began.

"As you can see, there's a sheet of paper. It contains ten pure mathematical equations problems, ten multiple choices, and ten problem-solving. The passing score is twenty-two. Now, here's the catch. If you answer them all correctly, you are instantly hired. You don't have to show yourself in the interview, you go straight to the seminar. To those who pass, congratulations, you are in the second stage. If you pass the interview, you are hired, if not, you will have to go. Now to those who failed, don't lose hope, I'll check your papers and see how you approach the problem. If it's unique and interesting and makes sense, you will pass, regardless of your score.

"Here's the fun part. If I see you copying, I'll walk up in front of you, grab your paper, and tear it. And then, you will have to leave. See, just like your good ol' exams. Now, if you have questions, raise your hand."

One of them raised his hand. A good-looking man in his early twenties with short and curly gray hair and eyes stood.

"Pardon me if this is going to sound rude, Sir. Based on what you have said thus far, in order to get hired, you have to be above the passing score and pass the interview, or get a perfect mark on the test, right?"

"You literally repeated what I just said," Poul said.

"I was making it clear for everyone," the man defended. "Now, for the reason why I said pardon, as what I will say might sound rude to you. How are we going to take you seriously? You are an Albian, and most of your kind didn't have formal education. I looked at everything about you and your co-founder and nothing showed up, making you uneducated. Oh before I proceed, are the questions in this paper, are you the one who made them?"

"I am," Poul confirmed.

"I see…going back. You haven't had a formal education and yet made mathematical questions that will test our knowledge in the field we have studied for four years. I'm sorry, is this going to be an addition or subtraction question? Because if it is, this will be a waste of our time."

"I understand where you are getting with this, Sir?"

"Timothy, Timothy Anderson."

"Timothy. Why don't you flip the paper and see for yourself?" Poul said.

Timothy flipped the paper around and the moment he saw the questions, his eyes widened in shock. Calculus questions that involve differentiation, integration, and multivariate problems can be seen in the paper. Definitions and functions on multiple question parts. And the problem-solving part requires understanding and conceptualization.

Timothy can tell, they are difficult questions. It was as if a professor made them, because of how professional it looked.

The other applicants flipped their test sheets and started trembling all over and scratching their heads in puzzlement.

"Oh by the way. I have the answers to all the questions there," Poul said and continued. "Now, we have wasted a lot of time. So we will begin the test now. You have three hours."

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