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Full text of "Why I chose engineering for my life's work"

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.