Engineering, University of Evansville
Engineer, performing finite element analysis of computer printer
components; makes recommendations to designers for modifications
"When you're in
college, it's hard to imagine what the workplace is really like
or what you can learn by actually being there. It was valuable
for me to see how people actually work, communicate, and
interact in an office, and I quickly had to acquire and use
those same skills."
"The best thing you
can do for yourself is to make contacts in a professional
setting. Often it's not necessarily what you know, it's more who
you know, who they know, and whether they can put you in contact
with people and companies that have jobs more suited to you."
"I was a theater major for, I guess, a year and a half, and then I
realized that while theater was fun and I enjoyed doing it, it wasn't
some-thing that would really feed me. I switched to business originally,
and then decided that my best bet was engineering and I chose mechanical
engineering because it's the broadest base of the engineers."
"As a mechanical engineer, I think the machine design class and machine
that I took - and the finite element class also that I took - pretty much
encompasses everything that I do in the normal course of my day. In terms
of non-engineering classes, I guess just any class that you had to
communicate in is helpful. English classes were also helpful, because we
end up writing a lot of reports as mechanical engineers; and sitting in on
meetings and giving presentations."
"It tends to be intensive. The work that we do, depending on the design
cycle, is either really, really heavy, or it's really, really light, and
so you end up putting
in a lot of hours one week, and then maybe not so many the next week."
"So as soon as I graduated, I decided, well, I definitely want to go back
and get my master's at some point, and that was also a big consideration
with me taking
the job at Lexmark, was that I could attend UK and they would help me out
with it. I thought it was important for me to start grad school right
away, so I wouldn't lose that momentum."
Q: Bob, why don't you tell
us a little bit about what made you decide to become a mechanical
engineer? Was that a decision you made in high school, or is it something
that evolved in college. How did that come about?
When I was in high school, I thought that I might want to become an
engineer, and so when I was applying to colleges, I looked at a lot of
engineering schools around the area, and I guess about halfway through my
senior year, I was in some advanced physics classes, in calculus and
whatnot, and I decided there was no way that I wanted to do this for the
rest of my life. And so I decided to major in theater, and I started
college out as a theater major. I was a theater major, I guess, a year and
a half, and then I realized that while theater was fun and I enjoyed doing
it, it wasn't something that would really feed me. If I wanted to eat, I
should probably get a real job. I switched to business originally, and
then decided that my best bet was engineering and I chose mechanical
engineering because it's the broadest base of the engineers. My thought
was at that time was that I wanted something that gave me skills, that I
could use, and no matter what job I ended up with when I finally graduated
from college, I would have a good background, and I would be prepared to
enter the workplace. And the other side of that was that I was interested
in how things worked. I mean I didn't know how a refrigerator worked
before I got to college and took thermodynamics, and it's just little
things like that. I guess that's the reason I chose engineering as a field
Q: How difficult was that
transition for you?
Well, I guess in high school I didn't have to study
a whole lot. I just kind of skated through it. It wasn't any big deal. But
when I was a theater major, we put in a lot of hours, but the work wasn't
brain-intensive. I don't know if that's a good word to use or not. But I
ended up probably spending as many hours in theater as I did in
engineering, but hours spent in doing different things. Engineering was a
lot more intellectually intensive and a little more frustrating. The
transition wasn't too difficult because I wanted to make the transition
and it was something that I decided I was definitely going to go do. But
it wasn't hard, but it wasn't necessarily easy either.
Q: So how long did it take
you to finish school in total?
In total? I graduated in five years. So I got out
easy. I didn't do a co-op or anything. I interned over the summers. But I
didn't have a co-op, and so I went pretty much five years straight
Q: What about your
internship? What did you do for your internship?
For my internship, I spent the summers between my junior and senior year,
and the summer before that also, interning with ASME in New York and I
guess that was sort of an office-type position. I did some programming and
some spreadsheet designs and forecasting and whatnot. That was a really
good experience. Just being in New York was a good experience.
Q: And what skills did you
acquire, that were a taste of the real world? What do you think you got
out of all that?
When you're in college, it's hard to imagine what
the workplace is really like, and no one can really tell you what it is
until you're actually there, and so in that regard, it was really good. It
let me see how real people actually worked, and I also think the
communications skills, and the interaction, that take place in an office
were really valuable for me to learn and to experience.
Q: How well did you feel
prepared to go into the working world?
You know there's nothing quite as scary as
graduating from college and actually having to face the real world. I
think college did a good job in giving me skills and a background that I
could work with and use in my professional career, and I guess I was ready
when I graduated. I mean I'm still learning now, and I probably will
continue to learn until I find a different job or move into something
Q: What subject areas that
you studied in college as an ME do you use the most? Actually, it doesn't
have to be limited to your engineering degree. What do you find you draw
on the most from your formal education?
As a mechanical engineer I think the machine-design
class and the machine-analysis class that I took, and the finite-element
class also that I took, pretty much encompasses everything I do in the
normal course of my day. In terms of non-engineering classes, I guess just
any class that you had to communicate in is helpful. English classes were
also helpful because we end up writing a lot of reports as mechanical
engineers, and sitting in on meetings and giving presentations. I guess
it's more of a broad-based background that you get in college, as opposed
to one specific area.
Download Full Profile as PDF