Today’s “Why I Became An Engineer Story” comes to us from ECN reader Bob Hofmann:
I knew from the age of 8 that I wanted to be an engineer, even though I did not know that was what that kind of a person was called.
The earliest manifestation occurred in 1944, when I was eight years old. My grandmother took me to Macy’s department store in New York City to buy me a Christmas present. She was very upset when all I wanted was several strings of Christmas lights so I could play with the wires and the bulbs. But, I did get them and the rest is history.
The next occurrence was in late 1945 or 1946, when all the war surplus started being sold along Canal Street in New York City. My father brought me with him and we walked along Canal Street looking at the “treasures” being sold. Again, I wanted anything that had wires and lights. Fortunately, my father knew enough about electricity to steer me to lights and wires that could be battery operated so I only received minor shocks while learning what could and could not be connected together.
About 1947 or so, I also built electrical buzzers by winding wire on large nails and using a piece of a tin can as a sounder and a piece of wood to hold the nail and the sounder so the sounder struck the nail when the coil was connected to a battery. I put two pieces of tin can under the wooden door threshold to my bedroom, arranged so that the two pieces of tin can touched each other if someone stepped on the threshold. Two wires ran from the threshold to a battery and buzzer under the nearby bed. Whenever someone entered the bedroom, they invariably stepped on the threshold, sounding the buzzer.
Since this all occurred well over 60 years ago, I am sure there were other things that happened, but these three examples from way back when are still fresh in my mind.
I went on to become an electrical engineer, working at Bell Labs for 44 years. I also was president of the IEEE EMC Society in 1992-1993.
***Editor’s Note: To Celebrate Engineer’s Week (Feb 22-26) ECN will be publishing one engineer’s story per day and starting a new weekly section called “I Became An Engineer”. To share you story email firstname.lastname@example.org***