Shout It Out Loud! Engineering Is a Great Profession!

In celebration of Engineers Week, Design News invited its engineer contributing writers to tell their personal stories. In this installment, contributing writer Nancy Golden writes about her gratitude to engineering and why it's beneficial more than just for one's career.

February 26, 2016

7 Min Read
Shout It Out Loud! Engineering Is a Great Profession!

[Editor's Note: In celebration of Engineers Week 2016, Design News invited its engineer contributing writers to tell their personal stories. And don't forget to read our special readers submission series: Why I Became an Engineer.]

Being an engineer has been great. It touches on all aspects of my life. The skills of problem-solving carry over to just about everything.

Engineering is more than a job –- it is a mindset on how to approach all of life’s challenges. I am so grateful for what engineering has done for me, both in my career and my personal life. Not only did it provide a way for me to contribute to and support my family, it provided an outlet for my creativity and the joy that comes with successfully solving a problem or accomplishing a difficult task.

Engineering also brought me into contact with lots of great folks that have enriched my life, as we partnered to work toward common goals. I have made lifelong friends with many of the people I worked alongside during my engineering career. Another advantage is that, as an engineer, I have never been bored at work. I get to keep constantly learning new technologies, as they emerge, or work on old technologies that need some troubleshooting. I never know what each day will bring.

As a test engineer, it is an extremely satisfying feeling to design and build a test set that is used for production -– knowing that something you built is instrumental in the success of the company. It is an important part of manufacturing because if you can’t test the product, you can’t get it out the door.

Providing solutions when new scenarios arise is also very rewarding. While it can be somewhat stressful when you are asked to provide that solution very quickly, it is also stimulating, and when you rise to the challenge you have the opportunity to be a hero. Whenever I am successful at solving a particularly difficult and pressing problem, I tend to play the Peanuts Happy Dance.

snoopy happy dance photo: Snoopy Dance mysnooop2.gif

One of the greatest joys in my life is getting to partner with my husband, Phil, in our engineering endeavors. Together we have designed a portable IR heated back support. Phil designed the hardware and I did the software. We had a lot of fun working on the project together and felt like proud parents when our product was UL approved and went into production.

Since then, Phil and I have partnered in several mechanical designs. That is what is so much fun about engineering. I mentioned that it touches on all aspects of my life, and this is definitely one of them. I have always enjoyed horses, and I have a wonderful quarter horse named Pistol. One of my favorite things to do is trail obstacles on horseback. This led Phil and I, along with our son Josh, to design several different types of trail obstacles, which grew into the establishment of my small business, Golden Cross Ranch LLC.

(Source: Nancy Golden)

Every trail obstacle presented unique challenges that had to be overcome. We prototyped each obstacle, and Pistol and I tested each one. Our portable gate took several revisions to get it to work properly without coming apart by enthusiastic riders refusing to let go if their horse decided not to be cooperative. We had to change to a different type of connector when we found wasps liked to nest in the opening that existed in our initial connector choice. Safety factors for our products included determining the material to be used that would withstand the weather while not shattering under the shod hooves of a 1,200-lb horse.

Finding suppliers resembled the same process that I undergo every time I build a new test set. So much of my professional life as an engineer crossed over to our trail obstacle business. Ultimately we decided to stop carrying physical inventory and rather sold the plans for them instead. I knew how to find someone to do the needed CAD work and could understand the technical terms required to discuss what I wanted for the end product. I am not a Web page designer but because of my technical background, I could use Dreamweaver and muddle through the needed HTML to do my own business Web page. You can find us at

(Source: shirophoto at

Engineering has also been a powerful influence in my writing. I am very proud to be a contributing writer to Design News. My other writing endeavors include an MG fantasy novel that I hope to see published and a sci-fi novel where I will be drawing heavily from my engineering experience. Between engineering projects, I write fiction and nonfiction for different venues, and I have a blog at

Going one step further, being an engineer means that you often have an obstacle or multiple obstacles that you must surmount. Maybe you have a design challenge or a troubleshooting problem. Whatever it is, you are determined to find a way to solve the problem.


Carrying that philosophy over to your life is a wonderful benefit of the engineering mindset. I’m not just talking about figuring out how to change your toilet tank flapper yourself (which is very handy since it will save you a ton of money not having to call a plumber) but life in general. Whenever you encounter a problem in life, your engineering mindset will lead you to seek solutions, rather than give up. The solution may not always be what you want, and sometimes you just can’t fix it, no matter how much you want to. But at least you know that just like in engineering, you need to evaluate all of your options and select the best one available.

Being an engineer is beneficial both in work and in life, and I am proud and grateful to be a part of the engineering profession.

Nancy Golden started her electronics career at Dallas Semiconductor and moved to Optek Technology where she was a test engineer for several years, eventually moving up to test engineering manager. Nancy became especially experienced in hall effect characterization and test and also gained experience with photologics, LEDs, VCSELs, and fiber optic transmission. The first person to become a Certified TestPoint Application Specialist (CTAS) by Capital Equipment Corporation, she has done contract work for Hitachi and Andrews Corporation and control room software for NBC in Testpoint. Nancy owns a small business called Golden Technical Creations, a service oriented company that provides consulting, teaching, PIC programming, curriculum development and web design for its customers. Between engineering projects she writes fiction and nonfiction for different venues. You can learn more regarding her writing efforts at novelwrites. Nancy also owns a small business where she and her husband Phil, who is an electrical engineer, design trail obstacles for horses, which can be found at Golden Cross Ranch and she is an adjunct faculty member at Dallas Christian College.

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