Students participating in TE's STEM programs and internships remind their future self about the passion that inspired them to become engineers.
Vision is the pathway to a better tomorrow. Students see the world with fresh minds capable of imagining new solutions for long-standing challenges. But sometimes, in working to become established professionals, engineers can lose sight of the aspirations which were the inspiration to pursue a career in engineering. In the stories below, the next generation of engineers write letters to their accomplished self, reminding the professional-they-will-become about the challenges they currently aspire to surmount and the way they expect to help the world become a better place.
Dear Parth, Engineering for me has always been about building upon the best of our childhood instincts – curiosity. Never forget that the world is shaped by the pursuit of new technologies in materials, information, transportation, and more. Always remember your humble beginnings: It was the joy of taking things apart and DIY projects, all culminating in a relentless pursuit of perfection, which you had the chance to chase as the Chief Electrical Engineer for the Formula SAE electric race team at the University of Pennsylvania. Remember the excitement and the reward from both the utility of the project and the experience of fast-tracking your path to success. Success was, and I hope still is, driven by my race-team mentality in engineering as ultimate win – do something better, faster, cheaper, bigger, than anyone else out there – and achieve it with the knowledge and teamwork of many. I trust you are now focusing on the big picture. I know you have a scrupulous eye for detail, but sometimes, (with discretion) a dirty solution to a problem is good enough to move onwards! Keep focused on the big picture goals including timeline and resource management. I look forward to meeting you in the future! The engineer you were as a young man
Simona de Silvestro, Andretti Formula E driver and TE brand ambassador, talks about the influences that have inspired her and the experience of working in a highly competitive field where very few of her peers are female.
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My dad always used to say
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as a baby I was only quiet
when racing was on TV
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When I was in the Go-kart
I just knew it was my Happy Place.
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And that's what I wanted to do.
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I started racing
when I was six years old.
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I think I'm a little bit of
a role model nowadays,
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because I'm racing a Formula E
and am the only female in that series.
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It takes a lot of effort, a lot of
learning also to what you're doing.
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Even if sometimes races
don't really go the way you plan
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you keep at it and keep working on it.
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I think we have to prove ourselves
a little bit more as a female
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because it is a male dominated sport
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and I would say,
if we have a bad result
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maybe it's easier for people to say,
it happened because it's a girl.
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I think just people are watching us
a little bit more on our racing career
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than they would for a boy.
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And maybe that's
a little bit the tougher part
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we have to prove ourselves
every time we're out there.
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I know how to drive a race car fast.
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When there are races, why shouldn’t I get
the job to be driving the race car?
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And I think that applies
to pretty much any industry out there.
Remember those blustery winters of Ohio State sorority recruitment when young women would ask you, their recruitment guide, why you joined Greek life? For some people, the hesitation to this question comes from the impression that their reasons for joining evolved into different reasons in staying; the adventures amidst the classwork blow initial perceptions out of the water. In a way, I think that is also how you approached your major. Ohio State's Buckeye Current team not only designs, builds, and races electric motorcycles – it is the reason you fell in love with electrical engineering. If we really are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, I am honored to be surrounded by this team – a collection of passionate, driven, and talented individuals. With peers mentoring peers in hands-on experience, those countless hours spent at the Center of Automotive Research cemented your trajectory at Ohio State. Those nights logging hours at CAR working on a printed circuit board design and staying caffeinated in the hardware cabinet nook were to prepare the year’s models for Pikes Peak – but do not let it stop there. I implore you to find a niche like this in the professional world and become an expert in whatever it is you end up doing. So, do me a favor: Fulfill my aspiration (and my definition of engineering success) of being the mentor that you were gifted with at this time, especially when the days turn gray and lackluster and the grind begins to wear you down. Be good at it. Remember, you checked the box that said electrical engineering because it was what the cool kids were doing, but the experiences from then on were the reason you continued (and plan to graduate in May!).
Dear Future Annie,
As you may – or may not – recall, I am writing this letter to you from the past. As of this writing, you are a sophomore in college, discovering new things about the world and about yourself. Remember how, even as a child, we could not help but to take things apart and (try our hardest) to put them back together? You chose to be an engineer because you loved understanding how these components worked together. I expect our innate curiosity and discontented restlessness have not been lost, for that is the soul of a great engineer. Your favorite quote from the past year was from Bruce Sterling, who said, “Don't become a well-rounded person. Well-rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle.” A successful engineer is one who solves problems that she is passionate about. Mere all-around competence will never trump real, focused passion. Thus, my goal as an engineering student is to find that passion, and to pursue it to the uttermost. So far, you have been most captivated by the myriad applications of interdisciplinary research. It presents the challenge of learning portions of another field with each new project, while maintaining full grasp of your own field. For now, I am not certain what I want you (my future self) to have accomplished, but I know that it is still early. I still have time to find something that I love doing, and I hope that, once I do, I am lucky enough to find a career doing it.
In 2015, Annie was an intern on TE's Advanced Electronic Solutions team, within the Industrial segment.
A successful engineer is one who solves problems that she is passionate about...Thus, my goal as an engineering student is to find that passion, and to pursue it to the uttermost.
I hope you have never forgotten your roots and always remembered where you found the inspiration to become an aerospace engineer. In high school, you discovered many science clubs that helped you find your passion. You enjoyed designing and crafting rockets, Rube Goldburg machines, and pumpkin-chucking trebuchets. Keep the passion I have today in mind whenever you need to find the motivation to do an overwhelming task. Remember the success you have had – and the journey that has put you in the position you are in when you read these words from your younger self. Just like in high school and college, when you faced an insurmountable amount of work, you faced it boldly and overcame the challenge. You decided to major in aerospace engineering with the hope of fulfilling your vision of where you would build a career that would enable you to realize your goals. You dreamed of landing a job at NASA so that you could work on the new Space Launch System. You also dreamed about working for SpaceX, Lockheed, and Boeing. I hope you have not forgotten these dreams, and that you are doing – everyday – whatever it takes to accomplish them. I know these are in reach and I am sure that you are finding success in your career. Remember that engineering is always a group effort, and that you are never alone in your struggles. And if you are struggling through the concepts and designs and are losing the drive to work harder, just think about the final product. Just like when you were younger, I know you are finding much satisfaction in the end result – in seeing the rocket you helped develop soar a mile high – despite all the many challenges you faced and the time you spent in creating reports and attending teleconferences. It is the same feeling you had after watching a pumpkin fly across the field after long nights of construction.
Good Luck, Wyatt. I am looking forward to meeting you.
Your Younger Self
While in high school, Wyatt participated in the TE STEM collaboration with Spring Grove High School (PA, USA).
Being a full-time engineer and mom is not an easy task. But I know there is not a day you regret either one. The two things I am most excited about experiencing in the future are these two things that keep you busy. I am sure you will feel exhausted now and again, with kids and coworkers probably driving you nuts! But remember this is a good balance of chaos and control. I always imagined there would be a boundary between work and home life but cannot picture that boundary staying set in place. Just do not let there be too much overflow, because kids and engineering do not mix homogenously, so it is best to keep them separated as much as possible. I am not worried about you ever being done with engineering and settling down as a housewife, because I know that will never happen. As stressful as it is going to be, I am confident that you have achieved success in your engineering career, that you have found that one thing you love to do above everything else – and are doing it often. And I am confident that you love being a mom and that you will never forget your first love: engineering. Engineering has and always will be the adventure of figuring out how things work and how to make them better. I know somedays feel dreary and mundane – but you will get through them.
I am looking forward to becoming you,
Your Self, When You Were a Penn State Student
To My Students, When You Are Accomplished Engineers:
As you graduate and walk out into the world, always remember the aspiration that motivated you to become an engineer. Remember why you fixed broken pieces of machinery, why you tinkered with things even when they did not need fixing, why you always dreamed about making things better. Although we have made enormous progress in making our everyday life better by inventing products that let us do more with less, we have not even come close to solving a lot of humanity’s pressing problems – providing everyone with access to clean water and livable spaces, improving urban infrastructure, protecting the environment, and improving quality of life for the disabled, among others. As engineers in the 21st century, you will need the right skills to make a difference where it is needed the most. You are better placed to make that difference than almost everyone else. This world will truly be a better place if engineers like you make it their passion to design and develop products and systems that solve the grand challenges of this century. I hope some of you will make working for the underprivileged in society and working for the environment your calling in life. I also call upon you to be humble and respectful of others. As you climb up the societal and corporate ladder, sometimes you may lose sight of the ground. At such times, pause and remind yourself that a big part of who you are is how you treat others, and how you behave in times of adversity. Admit mistakes when you make them because it is human to err. Be open to the opinion of others. Take time to self-reflect and know yourself from inside-out. Because not only does the world need good engineers, it also needs better people. Be that better person. I look forward to seeing you grow into the engineer and the person I know you can be.
Amit serves an Advisor for TE Connectivity/Penn State University Capstone Projects.
This world will truly be a better place if engineers like you make it their passion to design and develop products and systems that solve the grand challenges of this century.
As you probably know by now, there are periods where things feel as if they are stagnating. Maybe it is a project that seems to go on endlessly or the redundancy of mundane tasks that can drain one’s zeal. It is times like these that you need to remember why we became an engineer. As an engineer, you have the ability and – in my opinion – the duty to help improve the lives of others. The basic needs of life are scarce in many parts of the world. Helping people to develop resources so that they can provide for themselves means they need clean water and power. These can have a profound impact on their lives. Through organizations like Engineers without Borders and various mission programs, you can use your abilities to touch the lives of those who need it most. So while what you do for work may be dry at times, take time to re-energize yourself by answering challenges that provide meaningful change in peoples’ lives. A fulfilling career as well as a fulfilling life comes through service to others.
I am looking forward to meeting you!
Your Younger Self
Kyle: Passion. It is the one thing that everyone hopes to find during their lifetime and to spend their life doing what they are truly passionate about. You had the opportunity early in career to discover your passion, in a program few high-school students get to experience, thanks to the guidance of your teachers at Spring Grove High School and mentors from TE Connectivity. Do you remember working with your Spring Grove Student Launch Rocketry Team during your senior year? You had the chance to work with NASA and diagram a rocket through the entire design phase – with the bonus of building and launching numerous rockets in your team’s efforts to reach a target attitude of one mile. Through the numerous reports that NASA required, and the process of building a nine-foot-long rocket, you encountered challenges that you learned overcome, and in doing so found your passion. The world of engineering opened up to you, and the challenges that came with it opened doors to opportunities that allowed you to earn the title National Champion by winning the 2015 NASA Student Launch Challenge. It was while working late into the evening on this project that you found the joy which tackling problems and discovering solutions can bring. As I think about you today, you the engineer I will become in the future, I am sure that each day you live with a passion for finding big and small opportunities in all that engineering offers you. And I expect that you are continuing to try new things and looking to find solutions to major problems that could change the world. As you learned in college, collaborating with others and sharing your thoughts will help you adapt and create better, stronger, lighter, and safer pieces of machinery, aircraft, bridges, and everything else in between. As I write to you today, I hope you continue to embrace these words from Paul Arden: "You need to aim beyond what you are capable of. You must develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end. Try to do things that you're incapable of... If you think you're incapable of running a company, make that your aim... Make your vision of where you want to be a reality. Nothing is impossible." I know that in pursuing your passion for engineering, you are using your skills to overcome the challenges you face. Sincerely, Your Younger Self
While in high school, Kyle participated in the TE STEM collaboration with Spring Grove High School (PA, USA).
As I think about you today, you the engineer I will become in the future, I am sure that each day you live with a passion for finding big and small opportunities in all that engineering offers you.