WHY I CHOSE ENGINEERING FOR MY LIFE'S WORK THESIS FOR MARYLAND BETA GRAFTER TAU BETA PI BY Vaiil E. Underwood V SUMMARY I have tried to explain throughout this thesis that my choice of a life's occupation was due to environ- ment and an inherent curiosity to learn what made things work. THE AUTHOR -?- Why I Chose Engineering For My Life's Work. / Engineering- as my life's work was not a matter of choice but one of necessity. I have always been possessed with an insatiable desire to know how ana why things worked. At the age of three I was punished for besting out the plaster brains of my siBter's doil to find out how it opened and closed its eyes. While I was in grade school we Uvea next door to the man who owned the pov/er and light system in our town, and about cnce a month he would take me to the power plant with him. These periodic visits were the greatest events in my ilfe^and I can still rememDer how I felt on my first trip. I stood in the door listening to the noise of an oid Corliss engine, hail' afraid to enter, w ; .iie cold chilis of fearful delight raised goose pirnpiee all over me. When he took me by the hand and led me to within three feet of the big flywheel, I was almost overcome with both fright ana happiness. When 1 was a little oiaer I reaa that Ell Whitney, while a boy , haa taken a watch apart and put It back together, and no one had known the aifference until he tola them. Not having a watch hanay, I took the alarm clock ana went to the coal shea. History falls to relate how Eli got the mainspring back. The case of the missing alarm clock was unsolved for years . -3- , iVhen I was twelve, a ooy, who was sweet on my sister, taught me to drive a IK c a el T Ford. This was my first experience at actually operating machinery, ana I've never gotten over the thrill it gave me, notwithstanding the fact that I tore up the front end of the Ford on a telephone pole. After I graduated from high school I got a job work- ing for a power company. The old local company had sold out to a digger company, and the o±d steam plant had Deen replaced with oil engines. This plant was operated as an auxiliary piant from Key to December. There were only two of us working at the plant, and I received my most rapid promotion on that joo. During the two years I worKed there I was promoted from oiler, to maintenance man, to operator, ana just oefore the plant was permanently closed the other fellow quit, and I oecame chief engineer; all of these at the same salary. The following winter I worked at different oaa joos, but when summer came I went to Kansas City and pot a job with a pipe line company layinp wfter mains in a new subdivision. My new job w ; s oiling a ditch machine. The weather was hot, and my operator was lazy, so the only time he aian't set unaer a tree was while the doss was arou d. That fall I got the opportunity to go to school. My choice was odvioue. Even with mathematics and drafting I had to study mejhanicai engineering I'm not certain whether I chose engineering or it chose me.