And the engineering beat goes on

Finally—one of the kids sees the engineering light.

11/22/2013


Tom Brown is an executive vice president for The RJA Group Inc., the parent company of Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc. Based in the Baltimore office, Brown heads up the RJA Practice Group that sets the technical standards and best practices for the firm. CoMy career in fire protection engineering has spanned more than 25 years. The profession has always given me the opportunity to live a comfortable life. By no means would I consider myself rich in a financial sense, but my wife and three children weren’t left wanting for much. My kids were able to go private school through the 12th grade and my wife enjoys playing tennis at the local country club. It’s a pretty good life.

My oldest two children, ages 26 and 22, are both college graduates who did well in school. My daughter graduated from an honors program with two degrees and many academic honors. My son was a NCAA Division 1 athlete and also received several academic awards.

Both did well in math and science in high school, but after years of encouragement (they might say badgering) from me, neither one wanted to go into engineering. I started the encouragement/badgering of my youngest daughter earlier in hopes that I could get one of my three children to continue our family engineering tradition. I should mention that my father is a retired electrical engineer.

During her last year of high school, like many of her friends and classmates, my youngest was busy applying to a variety of colleges and universities. When she selected the school of her choice, she was accepted as a communications major. I stopped the badgering and resigned myself to having no children in the engineering profession.

But then one day, out of the blue, she asked, “Dad, what do you really do at work?”

I’m pretty sure my kids believed that all I did at work was talk on the phone and entertain clients over lunch. I saw the door of enlightenment open a crack. We sat and talked for a couple of hours. We visited engineering websites of the school she selected and explored online information about engineering professional societies. We reviewed salaries and job opportunities that a graduate engineer could expect to earn upon graduation. We even discussed intern programs, such as the one our company offers to students studying fire protection engineering.

At the end she said, “I might want to do that.” I took the bait and offered to set up a meeting with the head of the engineering department at her soon-to-be school. Fortunately, she had picked my alma mater so we were able to schedule a meeting with the chairman of the engineering department.

After the meeting she immediately changed her major from communications to engineering. Of course, I am thrilled.

I have already warned her that I probably won’t be much help with her homework. But I’m not sure what to do now:

I think I still have my remote computer workstation with an acoustically coupled 300-baud modem and a thermal printer, but I don’t think that would be much help in the new world she’s entering.

Times have definitely changed, but engineering is still an honorable and well-paying profession. I hope my daughter will enjoy it as much as I do. I do know one thing for sure—she’s now on the fast track to becoming my favorite child. 


Tom Brown is an executive vice president for The RJA Group Inc., the parent company of Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc. Based in the Baltimore office, Brown heads up the RJA Practice Group that sets the technical standards and best practices for the firm.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.