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...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Save energy with automation; Process control system upgrades; Dispelling controll myths; Time-sensitive networking; Control system integration; Road to IANA
Additive manufacturing advancements; Machine vision enhances robotics; Fieldbus evolution; Process safety; Advice from System Integrators of the Year; Road to IANA
Salary and career survey: Benchmarks and advice; Designing controls; Remote data collection, historians; Control valve advances; Hannover Messe; Control Engineering International
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
click me