An Unconventional Engineer

 

EngineeringMug

How did a mechanical engineer like me get into writing? Sometimes I wonder that myself. Considering there are precious few engineers who write anything more than design instructions or e-mails, being a novel-writing engineer is, well, novel. But my seemingly incongruous interests have produced a unique and enjoyable fiction filled with action, romance, intrigue, deep characters, daring exploits, space battles, and eternal truths, all woven together in a page-turning story with an unexpected ending.

But anyway, how did I get here? Well, I’ve never really fit into the typical engineer mold. I don’t work on cars, I’m not a huge fan of math, and the only AP courses I took in high school were in History. Like other engineers, I played my fair share of computer and video games, but the ones I loved were the ones with outstanding stories —Homeworld, Final Fantasy 6, Metal Gear Solid. Given a choice between a typical first-person-shooter and a good novel, I’d pick the book.  So why major in mechanical engineering and not writing?

That’s actually the question my college English professor asked me after one of our many creative writing exercises. To frame this properly, you have to understand this came from a woman who disagreed with me on almost all matters of significance. But Professor Christina French was one of those classic liberals that are going out of style these days. Regardless of people’s worldviews, she saw value in others’ talents and abilities. Three days a week, my classmates would watch the two of us spar on spiritual, political, and socioeconomic points. But she seriously took me aside one day and told me I ought to quit engineering and switch my major to writing. I took it as high praise, but told her engineering was a more financially stable way to spend my creative abilities.

After graduating with a BS in mechanical engineering, I got a job at General Electric designing components for Heavy Duty Gas Turbines. Then, after six years, three patents, and countless design reviews, I quit engineering.

And took up writing.

Well, not quite like that. First I became a stay-at-home dad of three rambunctious boys, designed a couple of board games, and planted a 2,500 square foot garden. And I’ll get to all of that in future blog posts.

Still … part of me wishes I could get back in touch with my professor and let her know.