Friday, May 27, 2005

The Engineer

I had the opportunity this week to tour the site of one of the leading high tech suppliers to the yachting industry. If you're a designer of America's Cup or Volvo yachts you know these guys and they know you.

The engineer who was my host was a tall, good looking, well mannered young man. Think Matt Damon only more handsome. He introduced me to his colleagues and showed me around the plant. He politely answered all my dumb questions as we visited the areas making the company's traditional product lines.

Then we entered the part of the building where he is installing the equipment to manufacture the company's next generation product. His face lit up as he enthusiastically demonstrated the equipment. It was fascinating to hear about the process of design and development and about all the details of manufacturing and product that have to be optimized. The engineer explained how this line will be technically superior to the competition's products and he proudly pointed out a couple of features that have some functional purpose but also add that special "cool" look that helps sell things in the real world.

The young man's energy and confidence were inspiring. He casually mentioned that he hadn't eaten lunch for weeks - because once he starts work in the morning on some aspect of commissioning he is just to engrossed to stop. So as it was now getting late I took him out for dinner.

It was obvious that the engineer was passionate about his work. Much more fun than spending 6 months redesigning a car door handle for Ford he explained. This was his first job out of university and he had always wanted to work for a small company, in an inherently interesting field, and build "cool stuff." He was living his dream.

How refreshing to spend time with a young person who has found his passion. A man who through sheer force of personality, energy, confidence or raw ability has persuaded his employer to let him run the sexiest project in the company. A guy who is clearly going places.

His parents must be proud of him. They are. The engineer is our youngest son.

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