As an adult assistant at a local Boy Scout troop, we’re always hearing about focused “days” and “weeks” that crop up throughout the year. One – “Teen Tech Week” – is March 6-11, and it got me thinking. How did some of the engineers and other tech folks that work here get into the industry? How did that spark of interest in tech when they were young lead them here?
For me, tech was always something of a fascination. Astronomy was my first love, but it turns out that you need to be very good at math for that. That was very clear when I attended an info session for CalTech as a 14 year-old. Instead, I wound up chasing a different passion and became a reporter. Still, I learned quickly that I needed to be on top of tech to advance. I taught myself how to work with websites, starting with basic HTML and moving into (slightly) more advanced design work with CSS. I’ve always tried to continue to add new skills – data analysis, photo manipulation, etc. – because of my interest in tech.
Working here, I’m in awe of what the engineers and other tech types who work for us accomplish on a daily basis. I asked some of the contributors to this blog to share their stories of how they wound up here in such a tech-heavy world.
Eduardo Flores – Technical Sales Specialist, Kaman Automation
When I was a kid, I was always playing in the dirt and letting my imagination take over. I would imagine seeing things move, and imagine machines I could build. Those machines would move the dirt around and build things. I didn’t even know that was “engineering” until I went to college.
In college (at California State University, Chico), I was interested in high-level math. I also still had that interest in building and designing things, and told a counselor. They suggested that I take Intro to Machine Design, and it just clicked. We were using automated components and designed a testing machine. From that point on, I knew that was what I was going to do – and it’s exactly what I’m doing now.
That class pretty much got me [my job at Kaman Automation], even though it was a freshman year class. I got my degree in mechanical engineering – not mechatronics. But interviewing here, my experience in Automation was from that specific class, and it’s what brought me to where I am today.
Eduardo is one of the men who manages the Kaman Automation account on Instagram. Check it out here.
Matt Schatteman – Director of Strategy and Continuous Improvement, Kaman Distribution
For me, my start in this business and tech came when I was about ten years old. My dad owned a hydraulic distribution business. So from a pretty young age, I’d be hanging out there in his shop. When I was young, I’d help with inventory and pull parts. By the time I was 15, I was bending tubes, and by 17, I was making power units. Hydraulics for me was like tinker toys for other kids – that’s just what I spent a lot of time around.
When I first went to college, I studied Classics, but drifted back into the family business after graduation. That aspect of being able to make stuff and help customers is what really kept me here. I wound up getting a master’s degree in engineering, and eventually an MBA. Even though my career has drifted towards the business side of things here at Kaman, it really all goes back to me in that shop as a kid.
What has really kept me in this industry is the way that what we do here is a lot like solving a riddle for our customers. They bring us an application, and ask us to find them the solution – not just any one that would work, but the one that works best for that customer and what they do. Optimizing a solution is a challenge, but it’s also an immensely satisfying experience if you have a mind for engineering.
Brett Bannon – Product Specialist, Kaman Automation
Growing up I was naturally intrigued by my math and science classes. Looking back, it was no surprise: my father was a math major that did software development and my mother was a chemistry major working in quality assurance. My parents would always construct these pseudo-science projects to show me how the natural world behaved. We did baking soda volcanos, dying the color of flowers by feeding them water with food coloring, etc.
When it came to selecting a field of study engineering was a no-brainer. I loved math, physics, and problem solving…so what better path to take?
When I reflect back on thoughts of “how did I get here today?” The answer always circles back to my parents and the environment I grew up in. All that time they spent teaching me science had a direct influence on the person I’ve grown to be.
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