Tuesday, 4 January 2011

How I Became an Engineer

I became interested in geeky stuff when I was less than ten years old. I remember being given a toy wind up clock that you could open the back of and pull all the gears out and then put it back together to make it work. A sort or geek jigsaw. I was always interested in how and why stuff worked and in the 70’s there was no kids TV on early, only Open University programs. I would be playing on the floor while Dad watched men in odd jackets talking about calculating the curve or a cord. This all sinks into a six year old and was not long before I started repeating what I’d heard.

At the time my Dad was a TV salesman / repairman so when our TV stopped working or a neighbors then the set would end up on the kitchen table with the back off. The view when your only 4 feet tall of glowing valves and the warm sell a old TV set gives off is a kind of mystical magic. Dad would keep me well back as he poked about inside and adjusted the colour or fixed rolling pictures. Was a sort of magic and I just looked on in wonder.

In 1981 as the first NASA shuttle took of we got our first computer – A ZX81 by Sinclair. This was fantastic for me as now I had something that would respond to being given commands, draw pictures and play games and a year later with a ZX Spectrum I was soon writing my own stuff and finding out how the hardware and logic of a Kempston Joystick worked. By then Dad was working from home doing TV and HiFi repairs and I got to fix computers and help people with them and all at the age of 12.

It was then I had a dream job of being a service engineer that could fly into space and repair spaceships. Year’s later people repaired the Hubble telescope while still in space! That was the sort of stuff I'd dreamed of. Ok I may have never got off the ground but I went to college and got my HNC in electronics. By this point I had believed I was an engineer, however years later I still aspire to be better and greater at my job. I may never have a PhD or get a cEng but I know that being an engineer is not just about passing an exam, nor is it a way or life but it is a way of thinking.

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