In honor of Engineers Week, DiscoverE asked its 2015 Thought Leaders -- from Boeing, ExxonMobil, Shell, Northrop Grumman, and 3M, among others -- this simple question: Who inspired you to be an engineer.
Here are two of my favorite responses:
Dr. John Tracy, CTO, The Boeing Company
I became interested in aerospace when I was very young. When I was about 5 years old, my dad gave me a model of a plane called the X-15. It was a rocket plane developed by North American Aviation (which later became part of Boeing), where he worked, and NASA. The X-15 was only 50 feet long and had a 22-foot wingspan, but it could fly at hypersonic speeds at over 300,000 feet altitudes. The flights it made helped pave the way for manned spaceflight. I couldn't believe that this plane with such small wings could do so much. I had this X-15 model hanging over my bed by threads, and I would stare at it every night when I went to sleep. And I know there are a lot of people here at Boeing who fell asleep every night staring at airplanes hanging from their ceiling. We have a passion for aerospace and engineering, and we're inspired by our creations because they still evoke a sense of awe within us - just like when we were kids. As children, we were all sketching new airplanes that could go faster, farther or higher. Today, as engineers, we're turning those visions into new wonders of technology and innovation.
Sara Orwein, president, ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company
My path as an engineer was forged by my passion and commitment to make a difference in the world ... a real, tangible difference to contribute to solutions that make the world a better place -- for all. Every day, since my career began as a drilling engineer in 1980, I am inspired by my colleagues and our mission to meet the ever rising global demand for energy. As an engineer I get to work on some of the toughest challenges in the world, and so my commitment to my profession and my colleagues is unwavering. Programs like 'Introduce a Girl to Engineering,' which is designed to create excitement and interest in math and science among middle school girls, are a wonderful first step in sparking that passion for our young women. Women looking for more opportunity in the workforce and a career that allows them to truly make a difference need to look no further than careers related to STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math. My own career as an engineer at ExxonMobil is just one example of what you can do with a strong STEM background. Engineers do indeed make a world of difference.
Go to http://www.discovere.org/ to read more of these inspiring stories. Then, come back to Design News and share your own.