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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Touched by an engineer

As a brand new baby, everyone gathered around his crib to admire his newborn preciousness. He made some little hand movement, or perhaps he grabbed the corner of his blankie. I don't know what happened. My untrained eye missed it. But, one of the admirers gasped and pointed in amazement, saying, "oh look. He's going to be an engineer."

I've kept an eye on him ever since in the hope I would see an engineer. What an engineer looks like. What an engineer does. And, yes. I have seen exactly that. Many times, and in many different ways.

For his fifth Christmas I gave him a transistor radio. My mother was so mad, telling me, "a five year old doesn't know what to do with a radio." To which I replied, "yeah, but, an engineer does." In short order, he completely dismantled the thing and rebuilt it as a working radio. Just in a different shape. Yes, I do believe soldering was involved.

He introduced me to the concept of going "on line" with a computer, having connected with a kindred spirit at major engineering firm 1,500 miles away. He was like 8 or 9 years old. That may not sound like such a big deal. Except the year was 1980. And, the computer was made from scraps.

Someone once gave me an electric clothes dryer from an old laundromat. Unfortunately, the place I lived didn't have the heavy duty wiring required for such an appliance. He told me he could take care of that, if I'd just drive him to the hardware store. So I did. As he was heading into the basement to do the work, I called after him, "don't electrocute yourself." He just chuckled. He was 13 years old.

I could go on boasting about his many other engineering feats, before and since. But, I just want to say, he's my nephew and my godson. And in a few days he's moving to China. To teach engineering.

Bill, I am so proud of you! You have touched my life in more ways than you can possibly ever know. Be safe and stay in touch.

Posted by Marie at September 20, 2006 9:28 PM


What a great story! I am sure he is just as proud of his aunt.

Posted by: Don Ray at September 21, 2006 11:47 AM

Wonderful story, Marie. Made my afternoon.

Posted by: Rob at September 21, 2006 12:20 PM

Cool, Marie.

Posted by: Dan at September 21, 2006 12:30 PM

He belonged to the Battery of the Month Club at Radio Shack when he was 6 or 7. He cut the cord on his balloon/clown lamp to "see what would happen" around the same age. Hooked up cable tv in my bedroom when he was 8 (thanks to Radio Shack). 26 years later it's still working. Made a light dimmer from scratch when he was 9. Learned it from a science book that he would take out from the school library every week until they finally told him to stop. Installed a garage door opener when he was 11 and instantly became the neighborhood garage man whenever anyone need their garage door opener fixed or installed. And finally my favorite. Put his brother's Big Wheel together Christmas Eve in about 20 minutes without reading any instructions. He was 9. Thanks Marie for jogging my memory.

Posted by: Bill's Mom at September 21, 2006 7:13 PM

Great story. Engineers don't always engender such sentiments.

Posted by: Kem White at September 22, 2006 9:40 AM

I took everyone's favorite engineer to the airport bright and early this morning, and it was difficult. For the past two years my amazingly talented engineer has been building me a magnificent house, only for us to relocate to China. He did all the plumbing and electrical hiself and not once did we fail an inspection, in fact we received nothing but the highest remarks from all the county inspectors who came to our home.

When I was a girl my Mom always told me to marry someone who was handy so he could do stuff around the house. I thought it was weird she wouldn't say marry a doctor or lawyer (like my sister did). What she really meant was to marry an engineer. I wouldn't trade the life we have for anything, I just hope I am able to make it to China by October 23, our 6 year anniversary. But first I need to sell the castle he built, and yes, it has all kinds of neat little electrical features that only a creative engineer would think of doing...

Posted by: Mrs Engineer at September 22, 2006 10:49 PM

What about the hydrogen bomb he made when he was about 14. He made the hydrogen himself. I don't remember how he did it, but it involved a battery, one of Mom's cooking bowls, and some wires. The neighborhood kids were impressed...

Posted by: Engineer's Brother at September 26, 2006 8:18 PM