Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Just One Question: How would you finish the sentence: "I'm an Engineer and..."

See how students finish that sentence at Thayer School’s "I'm and Engineer and..." video playlist.

I’m an engineer, a pilot, and a teacher. In the Air Force I flew fighter planes (in combat), biz jets, trainers, and bombers. I was an instructor pilot both in the air and in the classroom. On nights and weekends I also worked as an adjunct professor of business management for Embry-Riddle and worked for the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University. I was an analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency studying the Soviet threat. As an engineer I managed a team designing an intercontinental ballistic missile. I designed landing gear for fighter aircraft and wrote lots of design specifications for aircraft, aircraft instrumentation, and support equipment. I wrote and performed software tests and hardware acceptance tests for cockpit engine instruments and test cells. For a while I was supervisor of technical publications and wrote many myself. I wrote proposals for the Lockheed F-22 fighter and managed all the proposals for sustainment, as the aircraft was continually being updated. Currently I am trying to write a sci-fi novel. I think the breath of my experience at Dartmouth and Thayer prepared me well for my wide-ranging career.
It was a great career. On the flip side, the aerospace industry is very fickle. Through the years I’ve been out on the street looking for work five times for a total of almost two years. I had to study new subjects and reinvent myself, but I never missed a house payment so it was all good. Again, I think Dartmouth prepared me to be flexible and adaptive.

I enjoy photography, woodworking, skiing, and hiking but even in retirement I just don’t seem to have the time to do as much as I’d like to do.
—Ward Hindman ’65 Th’68

I’m an engineer and an educator. I’m an engineer with AB and MS degrees from Thayer School and a PhD from the University of Michigan College of Engineering and founded six technology companies during my career. I was asked to serve as the interim dean of education at the University of Toledo from 2008 to 2011. I accepted, and the faculty embraced my engagement with the college after less than a year—not because I was the best dean that ever walked into the college; rather, I was accepted because I brought a rational and people-oriented business perspective that helped the college forge a positive pathway during very challenging times in the world of teacher training. I attribute my success in the world of education to the liberal arts-based engineering education I obtained in the 1960s at Thayer School, where, in contrast to most engineering programs, we learned how to think creatively and to connect engineering and technology with the real world. That same philosophy works in the world of education and teacher training!
—Tom Brady ’66 Th’68

I’m an engineer and so was my father, so my excuse is genetic defect.
—David Dibelius ’68 Th’69

I am an engineer and innovator and I work with people to help them master and solve their own problems so that their lives are easier, more exciting, and uplifting. I am the director of the TESS Innovation Team at the University of Patras in Greece and a professor at the university.

After we finish our joint work, I’d like our clients to feel that they are more in charge of themselves, and they can better understand their needs and how to address them. To be confident that they can effectively use the solutions on which we worked together, and that they can then generate their own solutions. To be driven to innovation and a better understanding of the real questions, thus becoming happier for themselves and for their fellow human beings.

Yorgos Stephanedes
"I am an engineer and an innovator." Photograph courtesy of Yorgos Stephanedes.

Our team creates innovative solutions to problems in fields such as trip planning, fleet management, people and product transport, connected transport, safety and security for travelers and transporters, energy management, green- and zero-energy buildings, underwater buildings, and heritage preservation. For a teaser on one of our projects in green buildings, go to YouTube.com and search “GRASPINNO adjectives.”
—Yorgos Stephanedes ’74 Th’80

I’m an engineer and a youth sport coach. I coached more than 20 seasons of soccer, basketball, and baseball. My training as an engineer helped me be a better coach—making me consider how I am going to organize and convey information (in this case, instruction) to a group of people (youths) in a way they can readily absorb and utilize to meet an objective (play the sport). What is important to convey now, and what can wait for later? What is success?

For example, when I was coaching 5- and 6-year-old soccer players, we wore different colored shoestrings so our players knew not to try to take the ball away from a teammate with the same colored shoestrings. We also used wristbands—a green one on the right wrist for the right midfielder, a green one on the left wrist of the left mid. Same for the two backs, except in blue. Thus, the girls could see the wristband to reinforce which side was their side.

Mike Sulaver
"I'm an engineer and a coach." Photograph courtesy of Mike Sulaver.

In basketball and soccer, when I introduced the players to the concept of not being a statue but moving together and not bunching up, they wore a web of bungee cords as we moved the ball around. The kids thought it was silly and fun, but they got the concept. When teaching a new technical skill, breaking it down into smaller steps and sequentially introducing them helped in the player’s learning. I credit my training as an engineer with this approach.
And I also learned a lot from the coaching experience that has subsequently helped me with clients—although sometimes they are less patient and less attentive than the kids.
—Mike Sulaver ’74 Tu’77 Th’77

I am an engineer and an English-as-a-Second-Language teacher. I learned teaching skills as an engineering team leader, coach, manager, and technical subject matter expert. I learned how to teach a second language from Dartmouth’s late Professor John Rassias. Now retired from my engineering career, I teach refugees how to speak and read English.
—Scott Magelssen ’75 Th’76

I’m an engineer and a pastoral counselor. I took a mid-career turn from mechanical problems to people problems. I work as director of life groups at Grace Church in Fishers, Ind. I also enjoy singing in our church choir.
—Laurie (Kormornik) Hartman ’80 Th’80

I’m an engineer and I’m okay.
I sleep all night and I work all day.
Sorry, but I could not resist. Google it if you are not a Monty Python fan!
—Bob Mighell ’85 Th’86

I am an engineer and a mom.
I use my mechanical engineering skills to help with the most intricate of Lego designs.
I use my civil engineering skills to help build strong popsicle-stick structures.
I use my electrical engineering skills to install new vanity lights in my daughters’ bathroom.
I use my engineering economics skills to create budgets to guide family decisions.
I use industrial engineering skills to design, manufacture, assemble, and ship up to seven lunches a day.
I use fluids skills to get the hose water pressure just right for water fights.
I use my thermodynamic skills to help me as I change my spark plugs.
I use my organization behavior and negotiating skills to bribe, persuade, and influence my husband, Steve Hahn ’92 Th’93, and kids Brendan (Lehigh ’20), Clara ’22, Eveleen (age 16), Maeve (14), Delia (12), Quinlin (10), and Tilley (8).

I love my Dartmouth liberal arts engineering education and certainly use my Thayer learned skills daily in my mom passions.
—Maureen (McGrath) Hahn ’92 Th’93 Th’94

I’m an engineer and a crochet designer. I’ve been fascinated with both engineering and needlework for my whole life. I love materials of all kinds, and the design process is exciting, whether I’m designing something that’s useful, decorative, or both. I’d always thought of crocheting as a hobby, but I left full-time engineering when my kids were born. After a few years I opened an online shop to sell crochet ornaments. That shop led to a series of crochet pattern books—which turn out to be very much like the process documents I’ve written in my engineering life (only with much prettier illustrations). I’m mostly known as a crochet designer now (facebook.com/CaitlinSainioDesigns), but I still think of myself as an engineer first—and probably always will.
—Caitlin Sainio ’97 Th’98

I’m an engineer and a lawyer. I run a solo law practice (the Law Offices of H.W. Pfabe in Enfield, Conn.) exclusively dealing with intellectual property. The majority of my time is spent drafting and prosecuting patent applications, enforcing issued patents, and helping startups and early-stage companies come up with strategies built around their technologies. One of the reasons that clients come to me is that, in addition to my knowledge of patent law, they get the benefit of my engineering background and 15 years in research and development, product development, and manufacturing. Since once an engineer, always an engineer, I also run a small product development company (MetaMotive Product Development), helping clients with their design, engineering, and prototyping needs as well as developing products of my own.
—Hugh Pfabe ’98 Th’99

I’m an engineer and a ZillionMom! I started a financial literacy company developing financial literacy games for young children (elementary school age). I approach the education field with an engineering mindset—doing the product development to solve the world’s problems. “Zillionmom” is my blog name, and I have developed games such as Zillionaire Jr., Money Conversations with Your Children, and Money Cards. I am also writing a book on how to talk with your children about money.
—Katya Vert-Wong Th’02

Brian Mason
"I'm an engineer and a Dad." Photograph courtesy of Brian Mason.

I am an engineer and a dad who loves to do projects in the garage with my kids Lynn (7), Peter (4), and Andrew (1). Most recently, we built a “puzzle board” on which the kids can do puzzles and then store them under the coffee table in our small two-bedroom house in Menlo Park, Calif. We are thankful whenever we can be together and build and make and create together.
—Brian Mason ’03 Th’04 Th’05

I’m an engineer and I am drawing in preschool and elementary school kids to embark on the path of engineering and sciences. I am the founder of StemChef, a program that teaches young kids science through cooking. With that theme, I am writing a children’s book series and hoping to launch the first book in a couple months.
—Ashie Bhandiwad ’13 Th’13

Scott Lacy
"I'm an engineer and a cross-country ski coach." Photograph courtesy of Scott Lacy.

I live in Jackson, Wyo., and have a mixed career of design and building and ski coaching.

Both sides of my life balance the other and provide inspiration. It is amazing how kids think, and often I will explain what I am doing to them and hear their thoughts on it and get to see engineering through their eyes, which is often really helpful. When coaching, I love to use my Dartmouth and Thayer education to not just teach the kids skiing, but also answer anything they ask about (if I know it). It keeps me sharp and keeps me thinking about other things. Both the athletes and I keep the other looking at things in a different way, and I am very thankful for having that push regularly in my life. Plus, I get to be outside and active in coaching and be thinking mechanically. I am often less active when engineering, so doing both keeps my body and mind healthy. It is a pretty great life.
—Scott Lacy ’13 Th’13

I’m an engineer and a percussionist! During my undergrad years I played as part of the World Music Percussion Ensemble, Jabulani African Chorus, and Christian Union worship team.
—George Boateng ’16 Th’17

I am an engineer and a physician-scientist in training. I’m currently in my first year of training in the MD-PhD program at the University of Utah.

I was first interested in this career after having numerous surgeries as a competitive ski racer. I was drawn to the surgical techniques and tools used to fix parts of the human body. When I began my studies at Dartmouth, I kept medical school in the back of my mind and focused on finding a major I was interested in. The basis of what attracted me to engineering was using analytical processes to solve real-world problems. It was through biomedical engineering that I discovered that I could use this framework, but narrow the focus of its applications to bioscience. While many mentors and experiences were instrumental in helping me move toward where I am today, there is one experience in particular that stands out. In Dr. Jack Hoopes’ Introduction to Biomedical Engineering (ENGS 56) course, we toured the Center for Surgical Innovation at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. The center is a gigantic operating room equipped with MRI and CT machines that can move in and out of the room. This room perfectly encapsulated the intersection between medicine and engineering: Each technology had been designed and built by engineers, but was utilized by physicians for the care of patients. This experience solidified my decision to pursue a combined degree. It would provide the proper training to prepare for a career in designing, building, and utilizing medical technology to deliver and improve patient care.

The hardest thing about medical school thus far has been accepting that it is not engineering. The mode of learning (so far) is different within medical school. Education is not understanding-based, but rather fact-based and highly dependent on memory retention. I have had to trade my pencil and notebooks for electronic notecards. However, I am sure I will get my fix of engineering when I begin my PhD next summer.

While the content of engineering has not been applicable in the first year of medical school, I believe the framework I developed as an engineer will be highly valuable when I am practicing medicine. For example, accounting for all variables of a problem and understanding how each may affect the outcome, will be useful as I start treating patients. I also think every Thayer graduate has a sense of figuring something out if they immediately do not know the answer. As I’ve learned in my time away from Dartmouth, this innate characteristic we develop during our time at Thayer is not common to every college graduate. My ability to figure things out if I don’t know what is going on has already served me well, and I’m certain it will continue to do so.

In terms of how I plan to utilize engineering in the future, I am currently planning on pursuing my PhD within a bioengineering like-minded lab. My clinical interests are within the surgical subspecialties that are highly dependent on engineering. I plan to use the training within graduate school to inform my clinical practice to improve the care I deliver.
—Rose Caston ’16 Th’17

I’m an engineer and I work for corporate compliance at MacLean-Fogg in Mundelein, Ill., using problem-solving and data analytics skills in a totally unusual way. I am not using any of the standard engineering functions, such as drawing, designing, calculating, manufacturing process flow. For corporate compliance I am currently using data analytics and statistics to go through the different manufacturing process data. I am using a systematic approach, much like engineering, and then just have a different data set to work with, such as financial data, accounting data, inventory data, purchasing data, even human resource data, to make sure everything is on the up and up. We are also designing new ways of conducting audits and analyses, ensuring there is more uniformity and systematic approach between the different audits and analyses, so repeatability is possible. I think a lot of this approach is very engineering-minded, but a career in compliance is not something a graduating engineer often thinks about.
—Mariette van der Wegen Th’17

Olusegun Amusan
"I'm an engineer and I'm passionate about cooking. I enjoy cooking memorable meals for friends." Photograph courtesy of Olusegun Amusan.

My experience cuts across oil and gas, electric power, and energy storage. I got my bachelor’s in electrical engineering and worked for three years as a design engineer before joining Thayer’s MEM program in 2016. My exposure to large-scale and capital-intensive projects very early in my career made me to realize that engineering is serious business and got me very interested in learning about the business of engineering and technology. My focus area during the MEM program was in energy and the environment, and I chose this because the energy industry has a lot of socioeconomic impacts on the lives of ordinary people around the world. I’m currently involved in development and delivery of energy storage solutions to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Besides engineering, I’m also passionate about cooking. I cook the food I eat more than 80 percent of the time. I’m from Nigeria, which is a multicultural country and very rich in diversity, including in its food. When I was growing up my family was always trying out new recipes and cuisines from different parts of the country. By the time I left home for college, I could cook practically anything I wanted to eat, including Jollof rice (a very popular Nigerian dish). When I moved to Hanover for the MEM program, I couldn’t find many Nigerian food items in the grocery stores, but with the help of a family friend in the Upper Valley area, I learned how to cook different kinds of American food. Any time my friends visit me—whether they are Africans or Americans—my meals make sure they don’t leave disappointed. There is a lot of similarities between engineering and cooking because they both require a systematic approach, precision, and a lot of patience. To deliver a cutting-edge engineering product or service, you have to get your design and analysis right. If you want your friends to always remember the last meal they had at your place, you’ve got to get your recipes right.

To quote Orson Welles: “Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”
—Olusegun Amusan Th’18

Categories: Alumni News, Just One Question

Tags: alumni, M.E.M.

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