Birth of an engineer

FresnoFebruary 20, 2014 

Ed Regier's letter on vocational education (Feb. 17) is right on. My father was a classic example of how far a high school class in car mechanics or carpentry can take a person, while instilling the self-confidence to pursue related college classes.

Dad was an A-plus student in the required classes, but he also loved carpentry, auto mechanics, astronomy and music. He pursued all of his interests, which led to a richly diversified life. He worked as an engineer on a ship in World War II, took correspondence classes toward a degree in mechanical engineering, which he completed in college after the war, and became a mechanical engineer with Bechtel Corp.

He was on the team that designed and built one of the first nuclear power plants in this country. He also was a great help when I was slogging through High School Physics II — the only girl in my class.

But his interests and success started with vocational courses and basic science classes in public schools. The people who decide what courses should be offered should think long and hard about just how important the hands-on courses are.

Elizabeth Weir


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