As Adult Sheldon talks about the rich and storied history of engineering, he starts to say some consider it the single most important field of study. Sheldon stops himself and tells his friend Howard Wolowitz that he can’t say this. Howard points out Sheldon wanted him to write an introduction to engineering, but Sheldon says if he wanted comedy he’d have turned to Billy Crystal. Howard takes over and reads the introduction he prepared. After Howard discusses the International Space Station and casually mentions he went there, Sheldon says this again? Howard argues Sheldon is always going on about his Nobel prize, but Sheldon says it’s not his fault people always ask about it. Howard claims that’s because he’s always wearing it. Howard orders Sheldon to just tell his story.
Adult Sheldon explains his introduction to engineering began the spring semester of his freshman year. Professor Boucher enters his class room, introduces himself and closes the door at 0900. When a student knocks to say he’s in this class, Boucher says he’s not as the class has already started. As Boucher turns back to the students who did make it in time, Sheldon raises his hand to mention his appreciation that Boucher is using 4-digit time, often mistakenly referred to as military time. Boucher notes that because of Sheldon’s interruption, class is now starting at 0901.
Back in Professor Boucher’s class room, he tells his students that this course is about practical applications, not about fancy theories that work in a classroom. If a tunnel collapses, the only math that’s going to matter is the body count. Boucher calls on Sheldon after he raises his hand. After Sheldon says his name, Boucher tells him he’ll learn his name if he’s still there by midterms, but until then he’s just a number. Sheldon asks if he can be number one as that’s what Captain Picard calls Commander Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Boucher tells Sheldon he needs to listen more and talk less. Is that clear, number one? Aye, Captain.
When Dale answers his office phone, it’s Meemaw, who says she just called to say hello. Dale admits he’s never done that in his life and isn’t sure what happens next. When Meemaw gets another call, she switches lines, leaving Dale waiting. Dale’s ex-wife, June, tells Meemaw her hair appointment has to be canceled as she busted her knee up pretty bad. When Meemaw asks if Dale knows, June says no. Meemaw switches lines and tells Dale about his ex-wife’s injury. After Dale wonders how bad it is, Meemaw switches back to June to ask her. June tells the embarrassing story of how she slipped on a glob of hair gel at the salon. After Meemaw turns back to Dale and tells him about June’s injury, he laughs and says it was worth the wait.
Back home, as the family eats dinner, Sheldon is telling his family about his first engineering class. Sheldon explains how Professor Boucher closed the door at nine o’clock and wouldn't let any latecomers in. Although Mary thinks that sounds a little harsh, Sheldon says Boucher is impressed by how intolerant Boucher is. When Sheldon says Boucher refers to him by a number instead of his name, Mary doesn’t like that either. After Sheldon asks them to guess which number he is, Georgie jokingly suggests Number 2, although Sheldon misses the joke and claims that would be good on account of the pencil. Mary is at least glad he enjoyed his first class. Sheldon says their first project is to design a bridge, adding that Boucher built bridges across the world when he was in the Army Corps of Engineers. After George mentions out he was in the army, Sheldon wonders if he trudged across one of Boucher’s bridges. Missy is sure her father did cool stuff in the army too, but George says “trudging” sums it up.
When there’s a knock on her door, a laid up June says come in, before warning potential robbers that she has a gun. After Meemaw says it’s Connie and Dale, June tells them they didn’t have to come by. Meemaw explains they wanted to see how she was doing. When Meemaw asks if June’s doing all right and has anyone to help her, June points to the little bottle of pills, saying Elvis was onto something. Before he keeled over on the toilet, Meemaw adds. Seriously, Meemaw tells June they are there for her. After Dale says “That’s right. 100%”, Meemaw slaps him for being sarcastic, but Dale insists he was being sincere. June smiles as the pair of them bicker.
At the university, Professor Boucher tells his students for their design project they can decide between suspension bridges, truss bridges, beam bridges, just not Beau Bridges. Sheldon raises his hand to ask “What are Beau Bridges?” After the rest of the class leave, Sheldon tells Boucher he stayed up past his bedtime to finish the assignment early. After Sheldon places his work on Boucher’s desk, the professor slides it back and says he’ll have to do it again as it’s wrong. Sheldon insists it’s not and slides it back to Boucher. As they slide it back and forth, Boucher says he’s giving him another chance before it’s due. After Sheldon asks what’s wrong, Boucher says that’s his job to figure out. Sheldon argues it’s Boucher’s job to teach him. Boucher says, to start, Sheldon’s bridge is in pieces. What does he mean? Boucher rips Sheldon’s work in two and gives it back to him. Two can play that game, Sheldon says as he tears it up again and slides it back to Boucher, who places it in the trash can.
As Mary drives Sheldon home from college, he tells his mother that Professor Boucher ripped up his paper right in front of him. Mary wonders what that guy’s problem is. Sheldon points out that Boucher didn’t even use a ruler, he just ripped it up willy-nilly. After Mary asks Sheldon if he wants her to call the school, Sheldon says Boucher was in the army and he wants him to think he’s tough. After Mary suggests a trip to RadioShack, Sheldon says a trip to RadioShack isn’t going to make this better. But it’s not going to make it worse, so okay. After Sheldon wonders if Boucher was intimidated by his intelligence, Mary suggests he’s just a bully taking out his frustrations on a little boy. Sheldon says he likes his version better, where he’s intimidating and not a helpless child.
As a laid-up June watches TV, she struggles to get the footrest to decline. After Dale gets another phone call in his office, June says she needs him to come over as she’s stuck in the chair like a damn fool. Dale says that is a situation, and wonders how long she’s been there. When June asks if he’s gonna help her out or not, Dale wants a moment just to enjoy it. After June points out he can laugh at her in person when he comes over, Dale says he’s on his way.
As a glum Sheldon watches TV, Adult Sheldon says you know it’s bad when a trip to RadioShack couldn’t lift his spirits. When the Professor Proton show goes to a commercial break, a recruitment commercial for the U.S. Army airs. Sheldon is inspired by the slogan “Be all that you can be”. Adult Sheldon says he realized Boucher was just pushing him to be the best he can be. Later, Sheldon redoes his assignment at his desk.
The next morning, Sheldon goes to Professor Boucher to say he thinks he’s going to like this one. Without looking closely, Boucher once again rips it up and hands it back to Sheldon. Do it again. Yes, sir. Later, Sheldon hands it to Boucher who rips it up again. Later, Boucher doesn’t even take the design from Sheldon, who rips it up himself. Another day, as Boucher goes to rip Sheldon’s work by hand, a cheesed-off Sheldon tells him to at least use a straight-edge. Boucher complies and cleanly rips it in two. Montage of Boucher ripping up Sheldon’s work and placing it in the trash.
After Professor Boucher goes to President Hagemeyer’s office as she requested, Hagemeyer wants to have a little chat about Sheldon Cooper. Boucher is silent so Hagemeyer begins. Sheldon is a very important asset to the university and they want to make him happy, but it seems Boucher’s teaching methods are making him unhappy. Does he understand? Boucher says yes, she wants him to turn Sheldon’s frown upside down. Hagemeyer thinks it sounds more chilling than fun when he says it. After Hagemeyer asks if he’ll take it easy on Sheldon, Boucher says he can’t do that. After Hagemeyer emphasizes that she’s his boss, Boucher points out he has tenure.
As Meemaw and Dale sit down to eat, Dale mentions that he tweaked his back helping June out. Meemaw thinks he’s sweet and wonders what June had him doing. After Dale is vague, saying this and that, Meemaw asks if he doesn’t want to tell her. Since there’s a risk June might tell her anyway, Dale reveals that he helped her get a shower. Meemaw is shocked that he took a shower with his ex-wife. Dale says June got the shower, he was just assisting. After Meemaw asks if June was naked, Dale says they were married and he’s seen her naked a million times. Meemaw doesn’t think that’s helping. After Dale regrets being honest, Meemaw says he shouldn’t have been playing bathroom attendant. Dale insists there was nothing sexy about it. It was like washing a car. A rusty old car. After Meemaw asks if Dale “scrubbed her windshield”, he wonders what that even means. “Her boobs, genius”, Meemaw says. Dale insists he was just helping June in the shower so she wouldn’t fall down. And boobs are headlights. Everybody knows that.
At the kitchen table, Sheldon pulls another sheet of paper out of his pad and scrunches it up, joining the rest of the discards on the table. After George asks Sheldon what’s going on, Sheldon explains he can’t figure out this engineering project and his teacher keeps ripping up his work. George thought this was the guy Sheldon liked. Sheldon says he did when he thought Boucher was pushing him to be all he could be, but now he thinks all Boucher can be is mean. After Sheldon asks his dad if he’ll talk to his professor, a reluctant George thinks Sheldon should fight his own battles. Sheldon asks again, pointing out they were both in the Army and they’re both crabby and impatient, so there’s a lot of common ground. George figures Sheldon really got under this guy’s skin. Sheldon says it would appear so. A lot of common ground, George agrees.
When June answers the phone, Meemaw asks if she needs anything. After June says no, Meemaw asks if she’s sure. Groceries? Dishes? Help in the shower? “Damn it, Dale.” Later, when Meemaw visits her, she tells June she’s just not comfortable with Dale helping her shower. June says she isn’t either. Last time Dale saw her naked, gravity was on her side. After Meemaw wonders why she asked him, June questions who else she is going to ask. She’s got acquaintances, clients, but those aren’t people you want seeing your hernia scar. June apologizes if she crossed the line, but insists Meemaw has nothing to worry about. June admits she’s jealous of Meemaw, as she has the Dale that she never got. June put a lot of work polishing that turd, and now Meemaw’s getting all the benefit.
At the university, George goes to see Professor Boucher in his classroom. Boucher guesses George is going to say he’s being too hard on Sheldon and should lighten up. George admits Sheldon is having a tough time, but Boucher argues it’s a tough class. George says he was in the Army too and is all for being strict, but points out Sheldon doesn’t even know where he’s going wrong. Maybe Boucher could point him in the right direction? You mean give him the answer? No, no. Would you? After Boucher asks what he thinks, George says no. See, Boucher says, he didn't give George the answer and he got it anyway. Boucher says Sheldon is obviously brilliant but being coddled won’t help him in the real world. After George says he’s been saying that since the day Sheldon was born, Boucher argues sometimes you have to break them down to build them back up. George agrees, saying that’s what he does with his football players. At least, he tries to, until the parents get bent out of shape and come to his office. After Boucher says you don’t say, George starts to say he would not believe… until he realizes Boucher is talking about him.
When George goes to Sheldon’s room, Sheldon asks if he talked to his teacher. George did. Sheldon wonders if his professor is going to tell him what he’s doing wrong? No, George says he is. George tells Sheldon he’s sitting there waiting to be given the answer and life doesn’t work that way. He’s got to work at it. Sheldon says he doesn’t want a football pep talk, but George insists this isn’t about football, this is real. He tells Sheldon his professor is right. Instead of pouting, he should take charge of his own life.
Adult Sheldon explains he realized his dad was right that he had to take charge. And after twenty minutes more of pouting, that's exactly what he did. Sheldon stays at his desk late into the night working on the design, but despite his best efforts he was no closer to figuring it out. The next morning, Sheldon continues working on the design on an outdoor table on campus. As he was facing the prospect of his work being torn to pieces one more time, the wind blows the pages of Sheldon’s notebook over, triggering a realization. He’d been so focused on mathematical perfection that he hadn't taken into account real-world elements. Wind can trigger vibrations. If these vibrations occur at a system's resonant frequency, then oscillation generates excitation and a bridge can lose its structural integrity. Sheldon is relieved he’s a genius again.
Adult Sheldon says he couldn’t wait to hand in his paper and see the proud look on Professor Boucher’s face. Unfortunately, when Sheldon tries to open the classroom door, it’s locked. Sheldon shouts to say he figured it out. As he bangs on the door, Boucher points to his watch. “It’s wind! It’s wind”, Sheldon proclaims to no effect. As he turns away from the class, Sheldon declares “I hate engineering.” Howard Wolowitz asks if after all this time, that was his problem with engineering. Evidently, Adult Sheldon admits. So all the teasing and the abuse directed at Howard over the years had nothing to do with him> Sheldon admits that at first had a chip on his shoulder because of that class, but then it was mostly Howard. Unbelievable, Howard says.
Professor Boucher is once again called to President Hagemeyer’s office. She understands he locked Sheldon out of his class. Boucher says that’s his policy. Hagemeyer wants him to do her a favor, asking Boucher to tell her exactly what Sheldon’s face looked like when it happened. Seriously? Hagemeyer tells him to paint her a picture. She wants to feel like she was the one who closed that door. Boucher explains Sheldon approached the door with that smug look he has. Then, when he realized it was locked, Sheldon’s face fell into shock and disbelief. Hagemeyer laughs as Boucher acts out the look on Sheldon’s face. After Hagemeyer tells him he turned her frown upside down, Boucher says she’s welcome.