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vlsi_guy
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My son the engineer (chemical engineer)
vlsi_guy   8/9/2013 12:10:37 PM
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I was a child of an Electrical Engineer. My dad spent his career in the broadcast industry (TV to you and me). As a child I remember him taking me into the control room (this was in the 1960's) at the TV studio with all the blinking lights, monitors, etc. How could I not grow up to be an engineer after those experiences :-).

Well into my career I was blessed with three healthy children, first a son, then a few years later another son, and a few years later after that, my little princess (a daughter).

I don't think I consciously tried to steer them into STEM related jobs, but my enthusiasm for my career, my constant enjoyment over all things nerdy, science, and technology - yes, it rubbed off on all of them.

While my oldest just graduated with a Bachelors in Biology and wants to continue to med school. And, my youngest is pre-med and in college on a fully paid tuition. It was my middle son who I knew would be an engineer or scientist.

When he just started to walk, I noticed my prized stereo (that I've had since college days) started to sound a little off. Upon investigation, I took the cloth speaker covers off and noticed dozens of tiny little finger sized holes in the speaker cones. All at the exact height of my newly walking son. Yes, I knew his inquisitiveness was going to get him into trouble, and here was a prime example. When he was starting to talk (a year or so later), he was sitting in the family room resting in a pose that looked like the "Thinker" statue from Rodin. I asked him what he was thinking, he said "I'm thinking daddy". And I said, I can see that son, what are you thinking about? He said, "I'm thinking about thinking!". At which point I went, oh boy, that's too deep for me. And also realized he would definitely be an engineer :-)

Yes, a few years onward and he was the one that would burn his name into the side of the house with the magnifying glass, and carve his initials in his sister's nice bedroom furniture, and build models, and spend countless hours with Legos, conext, etc.

He excelled in school, straight A's mostly; it came naturally to him, without studying. Unlike his poor sister and brother who really had to work at it (like me).

In high school he found his calling, Chemistry, he volunteered in the lab, tutored other kids, and consumed everything he could read about the subject.

Sometime around then, my kids lost their mom, I lost my dear wife of 22 years to what's called "late onset schizophrenia". It was a tough road for my kids dealing with a mentally ill and absent mother. They each handled the pain in their own way. I think it has steered my youngest and oldest towards medical careers so they can help others, and possibly better understand what happened to their cherished mom.

This past spring semester, my middle son, the hopefully soon to be chemical engineer seemed more stressed them normal, I could not seem to help him in any way, my suggestions went unheeded.

At the end of the semester we were looking forward to his A's and B's that he had been making at community college and hopefully his acceptance into the very good state college. To our shock, and his honest dismay - he had straight F's.

We were devastated, he was honestly confused over how this could occur, I thought it was a clerical error, a computer glitch. No, he had not been turning in any work; he had failed almost all the tests. He didn't even realize this. My darkest fears that genetics had cursed him with what his mom has come to pass. Well, almost. My dear son has been diagnosed with Severe Anxiety disorder. I can't understand it, I can't explain it. It's like trying to explain the grandeur of the Grand Canyon to someone who has never been there. I only know he seems better these past few months with medication. I can only hope that as he starts back to college in a few weeks we will see that are new normal is OK.

Hug your kids - engineering bound or not, they are so very special.

Caleb Kraft
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Re: My son the engineer (chemical engineer)
Caleb Kraft   8/9/2013 12:17:28 PM
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This story is all too familiar. There is a correlation between the propinsity of analytical thought and, well, mental issues. It is said that mensa is the biggest autism support group there is. 

rick merritt
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Re: My son the engineer (chemical engineer)
rick merritt   8/9/2013 1:44:50 PM
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Thanks for sharing your story and best to your family.

rick merritt
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Author
My short tale
rick merritt   8/9/2013 1:47:09 PM
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I'm an English major, earning a tiny piece of an engineering degree every day as a reporter at EE Times. Its refreshing interviewing and writing for such a sophisticated audeince.

I would often talk to my kids about the neat people and things I learned at work. I took them to the Intel Museum just down the street once.

But I think the writing and music deep in my bones was more influential on them then my talks and the museum visit. They did not go into STEM.

betajet
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CEO
Skipping a generation
betajet   8/9/2013 2:40:49 PM
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My parents are both humanities types: Art History and English Lit.  They discovered that I would be an engineer when I was about 3 years old and took me to the Botanical Gardens.  They hoped I would love all the pretty flowers and plants, but I was only interested in tracing the paths of the pipes in the sprinkler system.  (This is good practice for working with multi-layer PC boards.)

My grandfather was an engineer, so it skipped a generation.  My two daughters are both technically adept and highly skilled in using computers, but neither showed any interest in becoming an engineer.  They went into Art and Art History, like my dad -- even though their other grandpa was an engineer.

binghe0
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Re: My son the engineer (chemical engineer)
binghe0   8/9/2013 3:33:29 PM
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God bless your son

junko.yoshida
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Re: Skipping a generation
junko.yoshida   8/9/2013 3:41:08 PM
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They hoped I would love all the pretty flowers and plants, but I was only interested in tracing the paths of the pipes in the sprinkler system.  (This is good practice for working with multi-layer PC boards.)

wow, this is a great story... that's definitely a clue!

junko.yoshida
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Re: My son the engineer (chemical engineer)
junko.yoshida   8/9/2013 3:54:32 PM
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Thanks for sharing your story @vlsi_guy.

What a story. I found myself captivated to your narrative and cruel outcomes life sometimes unfolds to all of us.

But I am really glad to hear your middle son seems to be better lately with the help of meds.

Medical science advances leaps and bounds every year. Let's keep faith in the development of science. More importantly, though, reading between the lines -- the way you told your story, I can tell what a great, caring Dad you are to your kids.

Hugs to you!

 

gah4
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Re: Skipping a generation
gah4   8/9/2013 6:40:19 PM
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Yes, it too was interested in sprinkler systems. When I was four, my father installed a sprinkler system in our new house. (New house, bare yard). When we went to nearby Sears store, I would go to the plumbing department to look at sprinkler parts, and even explain to other customers what to do with them.

In Kindergarten, I would design sprinkler systems with Tinker-toys (everyone here remembers them, right?).  My teacher didn't like that, though, and I was told not to do it.

Some time later when I had another one designed, she commented on how nice it was, and asked about it. When told it was a sprinkler system design, she then didn't like it anymore. And I still remember that 50 years later! 

Even before that, I was interested in electrical things, since I was about two. 

My father is a physicist, so he understood my pretty early, but not everyone did.

Bert22306
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CEO
Re: Skipping a generation
Bert22306   8/9/2013 7:03:54 PM
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Great story, Glenn, and it rings so familiar. The part about the teacher, especially. I too remember countless times, at school and even at home sometimes, when what I might have been obsessing over was deemed trivial. This is more common in grade school, I think, before you get to the more nerdy/techie teachers who might occasionally actually share your interests.

Which is what I find so refreshing about Caleb's attitude. Impressive. I too strived to show interest in and encourage my daughter, from the time she first demonstrated where her interests were. Which happens at an incredibly young age. Easily by the time they're 1 year old.

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