***Editor’s Note: The “I Became An Engineer” blog runs every friday. To share you story email email@example.com***
This week’s story is brought to us by reader Raymond Mack:
My journey to being a software engineer specializing in medical devices was circuitous.
I grew up in the late 50’s and 60’s when so much was changing. I remember being probably 8 years old and reading about the brand new nuclear powered submarines. I read everything about the nuclear industry at the time and there wasn’t much. What was there pointed that the navy needed nuclear engineers for the emerging nuclear fleet. “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” helped cement that I wanted to be a nuclear engineer.
In 1969, I found my maternal grandfather’s ARRL Handbook and read it cover to cover. I still have that book which is missing a few pages and the front and back covers. My grandfather started as an amateur in the days of spark gap with the call sign 9GU. He ended up studying mathematics and teaching school, but passed the flame on to me. After reading the Howard Sams set of basic electronics books, I discovered that electrical engineering was much more accessible. About that time I earned Electricity, Electronics, Radio, Computers, and Atomic Energy merit badges. I was hooked and started building fun electronic projects and got my license in 1970. In 1971, I was on my way through math and science at community college moving towards a general EE degree perhaps focusing on radio work, but mostly undecided.
My father got out of the Air Force and started working at the local hospital in the engineering department fixing medical equipment. He helped me get a part-time job as janitor at the hospital where I worked in surgery around all the really cool instrumentation. A year later he brought home information about a new field of engineering called Bio-medical engineering. At the time only MIT and Purdue had degree programs. This was a chance to actually build new versions of all the equipment I had seen while cleaning up after surgeries! My grandfather was quite pleased I chose to follow his footsteps and be a Boilermaker. I was part of the initial class of Bio-medical engineers.
I worked for many years at DuPont doing clinical chemistry analyzers. The next gig was making heart pacemakers and implantable defibrillators (working with 5 other engineers who had followed me through the program at Purdue). The next gig was building RF generators for a technology called Coblation that is used for arthroscopic surgery. The highlights of my career are my dad using implantable defibrillator technology we developed for congestive heart failure and the doctor using a Coblation device with my software to repair my son’s torn ligaments from a high school football injury.
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