Best wishes on your future. Indeed you have been a mentor to many engineers via EDN, your articles, and I really appreciate your books from years ago. The books & magazines sure helped me get started and continue to grow in embedded systems design, where I had a wonderful career in teaching and biomedical product development. You'll be missed!
Thank you for sharing such wonderful insights (as is usual for you) in this, your farewell column. You will be missed! Not only have you blessed me with much electronics knowledge, but your parting words have also served to inspire me. I recently started teaching at the college level and have 30 freshman students entrusted to my care - I have often felt these past months the responsibility that a professor has, for these young men and women are at a pivotal point in their lives and mentors can have a huge impact on the decisions they make. Thank you reaffirming that role - it is what being a teacher is all about. Thank you also for your past articles and for recognizing your mentors and their influence in your life. While such people typically want nothing in return, knowing that they had a small part in your success is heartwarming. God bless you in your new endeavors!
@Nadine: Yes since without mentors there will be no such big success. You do need some good guidance to help someone to climb the ladder. Not always the path will be clear. When things do get rough you do need some guidance.
Very true a.saji, It will always will be a great push for the life by having a great mentor. Evan in our childhood also we have a mentor in the form or hero it may be a cartoon character. So it is very important to guide our child hood to the positive character in order to have a better future.
Great subject for an article. I clearly remember my 4th grade teacher who inspired me to push myself academically and develop a thirst for knowledge.
Congrats on your retirement and thanks for all of your contributions over the years!
"I write this column as my last in a long series for Design News. Time has come for retirement"
Jon, thanks for your inspiring story and all the best wishes for your retirement life. I think in retirement life also you can continue the freelance writing, which can inspired lots of peoples. Tomorrow you can be the mentor for many peoples.
It is interesting how someone who seems to walk into your life by sheer accident can go a long way in influencing or even totally changing how you think and work. Mentors are special people and everybody has one; although most people do not even know they have mentors or are simply too obstinate to admit to it and thank their mentors. Thanks for sharing your story Jon, brought out feelings of nostalgia from my early schooldays.
True Anandy We all has a mentor in our minds from the childhoods. These Mentors will have the same characteristics that we like to have in our lives. These Mentors can be either positive or negative; by associating the good/positive mentors we will also have the positive character.
When I read articles like this t reminds me to take time to help whenever I can because we never know when what we say will truly make a difference in someones career or even life. No one thing is too small.
I have been a keen and avid follower of your posts here and its sad to think that I won't have the pleasure of doing so for much longer. I sure hope you will still find time to post some of your informative pieces here once in a while. Thank you Jon, you have been very helpful to us all; a real mentor.
Congradulations John! You are getting out alive. I just retired in May @ 60 & 6 months. I'm so buzy I dont know which way is up. I worked 36 years - 25 years at Boeing. Just taking up Cowboy action shooting and I'm a real dude! ER drug store cowboy what ever. Partly rebuilding the 350 in my big truck. Just turned my rental around for the last time to the tume of $25K expense.
John, Thanks for the interesting post. I have had some teachers who made subjects interesting, one even made calculus interesting. And an eighth grade science teacher who did make things interesting, back a long time ago.
In addition, I have been a mentor of sorts to quite afew people who while having degrees were quite lacking in much understanding of how things actually worked in engineering. And several of them I had to explain somethin g that I learned from one college engineering teacher. I call it "the Maselowski criteria", and it consists of asking "is this answer reasonable?" One time we had to apply that to a very large servo system used to run truck rear axles under load. The engineer could not get the system to stablize, which I discovered was because the gain was set way too high. He showed me that math that he had used to determine the gain settings, and while I could not see any error, the number was an order of magnitude higher than it needed to be. So we set the gain down and the system was stable, and then he could advance the derivative gain as well as the proportional gain, and make it work in a stable and accurate manner. From then on I got questions from a lot of folks at that place when they had problems. And I always explained my answers.
At the school-district technology center nearby, the two engineering teachers both have engineering degrees. But I have known good technology teachers who did not have engineering degrees, but they could call on many years of practical experience. Some states have an accelerated teaching-certificate program, but I bet most of them require a BA or BS degree. Some smaller colleges might not, though. Talk with the people at your local school-district office and talk with teachers in high schools, vo-tech schools (if there are any left), and colleges with associates degrees in engineering. They know the lay of the land and can offer advice. --Jon
So true Jon. I also had the benefits of mentoring early in my engineering career. Bob Ditto was the very first person I worked for as a coop and was certainly instrumental in keeping me in engineering. As we all know, the rigor and focus needed to complete an engineering course of study is definitely there. While others were partying, we had to study. Bob was behind me all the way and was always available for counsel and a quick phone call. He was a mechanical engineering graduate from Perdue and one of very best teachers I have ever had. He passed away this year at the age of 92. I also mentor through "We Teach Science" and find it to be very rewarding. Excellent post.
@bob: Indeed, to make your career a success, you do need to focus and concentrate on it. You alone cannot do it. Its always good to give your thoughts to someone else and gain the output from there. Then you can compare and think which one to do.
@zeeglen I would also add that the student who feels inspired should go back and tell the teacher about his/her inspiration. I went back to my high school physiology teacher a few years later to tell him that his compehensive sex education saved a lot of us from making serious life mistakes. He taught us more about the human reproductive system than most adults know today.
My wife was a teacher in her early years. A bad boy stole a valuable glass globe from her desk. She walked into a very dangerous neighborhood to knock on his door and ask for it back. Then she forgave him and gave him a privilege or two. Another kid wrote an obscene word on her board. She called him to her side in private and asked him if he did it. He said, "yeah." It turns out that his mother was a drug addict and he had to get himself dressed and fed every morning to come to class. She forgave him and he became her willing servant for the rest of the term.
Go back and reward your teachers for what they gave you.
@78RPM (wonder how many know the ancient technology behind this?)
Another form of mentoring can be as simple as sharing a how-to with a neighbor.
Long, long ago I was trying to replace a broken cedar fence post. The remains were anchored into the ground with cement, and in spite of the big hole I dug my sons and I just could not get that SOB out.
My next-door neighbor was a retired farmer, and in his time had dealt with many reluctant fence posts. He came over with a chain, and showed us how to wrap the chain around the broken post and around the new post. Then use the new post as a lever to pry the broken post out of the ground. Following that I bought a chain, after that no fence post ever messed wih me again
A few years ago I witnessed my own neighbor struggling with the same problem, whereupon I brought over my chain and helped him remove his fence post.
That old retired farmer has probably long since passed away, but his wisdom lives on...
Having a good mentor is definitely a blessing. I worked in a research Lab in which sometimes things used to get very complex to figure out. I had a great mentor who was very kind enough to always spare some time to clear out the confusions. To have some senior guide to train you is definitely better than all the books and manuals out there.
I should tell Ms. Maurine Failey, my 10th-grade geometry teacher, how much I appreciate her giving me a failing grade in geometry. It was a wake-up-call. I took geometry during summer school, studied hard, and aced the NY Regents exam. That summer-school experience gave me new respect for math and its importance. If I had squeaked through Ms. Failey's class, my career would have taken a different and not-so-good path. Thanks, Mrs. F.
I just went to my mentor's funeral last week - Larry Dews 1942-2013 - he was only 71. In 1978 when I was 13 I worked for him in a Clock shop. I was 15 when my dad died and Larry became a mentor to me over the years.
He worked as a chemical engineer for many many years and had a business on the side fixing clocks. As a kid I was clumsy and foolish and probably cost him more money than I ever helped him make - but he made a point of saying to me "Jack , you can do Anything!" And I believed him because HE had such strong faith in me. And I did some amazing things back then that I'm not sure I'd tackle now.
A few years ago I read a devotional that talked about mentors and realized I had never properly thnaked him as an adult- so I searched him out and had a grand visit and talked of old times. I was shocked to hear of his passing, but glad I had taken the time to say "Thanks" for his care and kindness.
At his funeral his entire career as an Engineer was summed up in one sentence....because his mentorship and care for others around him was what people talked about. His availability and willingness to share, encourage, teach and explain to those around him regardless of their position or social staus - THAT is what people talked about and THAT to me was the mark of GREAT man and a great Engineer. While he may have had a patent or two , his greatest contribution to the world was passing on his engineering passion to another generation of engineers.
Best of luck, Jon. Although I never had the good fortune to work directly for you, I always knew of your tremendous reputation around our company. You yourself were a mentor to many. Enjoy your retirement!
Since the subject is mentors, I think it's fair to bring up Jon's pioneering construction of the Mark-8 Minicomputer (now on display at the Smithsonian Institition), which inspired countless engineers and computer enthusiasts of the time. Read about it here:
We have some things in common. I am also about to retire after 41 years as an engineer. I also have been married for 43 years. 1970 was a good year. I wish you well in all your future endeavors.
I am excited about my retirement and at the same time scared. It is a big change and I wonder how well I will adapt. I have worked for 5 companies in 5 different industries. No plans to return to work, even part time, unless I get bored.
Jon: Thanks for writing such a moving story. Your comments will be missed. Like everyone else who wrote, I had a mentor, but it was not always a soothing note of encouragement.
I was a highschool punk, but my older brother got me a job interview for an apprenticeship. When I began working, I still had many punky attitudes until one day my brother walked over to my bench. He was an ex-marine and proceeded to rip me up one side and down the other with a tenacity that would make a drill sargeant proud. Mostly it was about my attitude on the job, but he also demanded to know where was my pride in craftsmanship. Just like the teacher who flunked you, Jon, it was an incredible wakeup call. I remember him telling me how I was no longer just representing myself, but now also represented him and the whole tool & die industry.
Ever since I have tried to carry myself in a manner that will reflect postively on my family, my coworkers and my trade. I think of my late brother every day and just how much I owe him. He did not live long enough to retire so I head into my retirement in 9 days with mixed emotions. How have I been so lucky while he was so starcrossed?
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