One single event set the course of my professional life: the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
I was 11-years old when my Georgia classroom sat huddled around the television. Though tears and confusion followed the disaster, I was still transfixed by the notion of human space flight, the capacity of the human spirit, and the possibilities created by science and engineering innovation.
My perception of Aerospace Engineering included a strong passion and desire to design, experiment, test, and manufacture new ideas that would result in useful and safe products and solutions. As I earned my B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, I remember the excitement and rush I would get watching the shuttle launches just outside the Daytona Beach campus classrooms. When you witness such events with your own two eyes, all doubts are erased about the amazing capabilities of the human race. After graduation, I remember thinking I was finally on my way to becoming a part of the institutions that would fulfill my dreams.
Then I entered the real world. While working in the industry and earning my master’s degree from the University of Southern California, it became clear there had been a shift in American vision and culture that caused us to lose out on most real and applied training. In the background, political and social decisions were being made that changed how scientists and engineers work here in the US – global changes that in many ways negatively impacted the world and weakened our own domestic workforce. Simulations and computers became the norm for “building things,” along with any tools that averted risk. In short, our culture evolved from being the biggest risk-taking culture ever to arguably the most risk averse. My predecessors saw, understood, and explained the world in a different light. They were inspirational -- but my assigned projects were not. Though important, they focused on “sustained engineering” practices that were justified but mind-numbing.
I never got rid of that dream to become part of something bigger than myself. This something would have to allow – even encourage – risk taking. It would inspire change. And, it would allow engineers to design and build products for the sake of the experience as a primary channel for bigger idea generation and innovation.
Thus, edtric and edtrication were born. Our approach gives companies, educational institutions, and even determined individuals a low-cost and low-risk environment for hands-on exploration of new concepts while owning and designing products from the inside out, in conjunction with software and simulation. The concept is both newfangled and old-fashioned, basic and trailblazing. I believe it can help bring back the enthusiasm and ingenuity of many engineers and engineering students who are disenchanted by the constraints of our current system. I think it’s a great time to be an engineer!
Dream big, take risks, and build things,
Entrepreneur, engineer, and inspirational force
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