***Editor’s Note: The “I Became an Engineer” blog runs every Friday. To share your story email firstname.lastname@example.org***
This week’s story comes to us from ECN reader Abdel Hezzini, senior electrical systems engineer, Veeco Instruments.
I think my engineering story was written before I was born. It began in the 1980s when my parents migrated to the United States from Aleppo, Syria. My father was an electrical engineer and landed several jobs as a technician in order to support our family of seven. I found myself working alongside him almost daily by the age of six. Instead of Saturday morning cartoons and playing with toy race cars, I had multimeters, oscilloscopes, and soldering irons. By the age of 16, I was working as an engineer tech at a company that worked with X-ray, MRI, and CAT scan equipment.
I learned something about myself during those years—that my curious nature propels me toward continuous growth. I knew that with the right approach, design, and idea, I could engineer the future that I wanted for myself and those around me. The defining moment came at the age of 18, when I needed a car, but couldn’t yet afford one. Instead of accepting that fate, I forged my own. I went to the junkyard and bought the parts. In 2 months, I built a working car for less than $700.
This success inspired me to create innovative solutions to life’s problems on a broader spectrum. I decided that I needed better tools to aid my goal, and enrolled in the undergraduate electrical engineering program at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) while working full time. My time at NJIT validated my decision and I knew that I’d chosen the best career path for myself.
At the time, gas prices were the highest they’d ever been, sparking an idea for which my passion for electrical engineering and hobby for building cars served me well. My design, which improved the efficiency of gas mileage by taking advantage of the car’s losses, like heat from the engine, won first place. It was one of those “aha” moments when I truly understood how engineers can be agents of positive change.
After earning my degree at NJIT, I worked as a controls engineer for a few years, but wanted to get more involved in the overall design of an entire system. In my current role as a senior electrical systems engineer at Veeco Instruments, we have a high level of responsibility and accountability associated with our tools. When you’re an engineer, upper management trusts you to be able to find an answer that others haven’t been able to find. This requires a careful balance between managing tight deadlines, while always maintaining structural competency and efficiency. These intricacies built not only the trust and confidence my colleagues have in me, but the same confidence I have in them.
My favorite part of being an engineer is that I am not just an engineer: I am a scientist, planner, innovator, designer, developer, and may take on even more roles as the scale and impact of our tools continue to evolve. I enjoy the challenge of solving problems and having a hand in the innovative world that allows us to operate more efficiently and make our environment more sustainable. It’s imagining the finished product that you conceptualize in your mind, and then later seeing it built. There are no words to describe that feeling!
Creativity and curiosity are at the core of how I perceive the world around me, which is how I know I’ve always been an engineer at heart. My experience thus far has taught me many things, but what provides the most powerful affirmation for me is that being an engineer gives me the power to solve real-world problems we’re facing as a society. We, as engineers, can truly make a change for the better.
Read other stories, here:
- A Note From The Editor: An Engineer’s Story
- I Became An Engineer: Despite Being Bad At Math
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Couldn’t Stop Tinkering
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Grew Up In Kenya
- I Became An Engineer: By Just Being Myself
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of MacGyver And Comfortable Clothes
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A Model Airplane Contest
- I Became An Engineer: So I Wouldn’t Have To Go To Vietnam
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of Sci-Fi Novels
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A Watch
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A 1930s Vintage Radio
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Kept Asking “Why?”
- I Became An Engineer: By Studying The Fundamentals
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of Microscope Modifications
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Drew A Flower
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of A Paperback Book On Electricity
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Wanted To Travel
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Tinkered With A Radio
- I Became An Engineer: Because Of Math, Science, And Serendipity
- I Became An Engineer: Because I Loved Discovery And Fixing Things
- I Became an Engineer: Because It Was Hot That Day
- I Became an Engineer: Because of Viktor Frankl and Existentialism