I’m taken back thirty years ago, as most of us with Internet or television access have been the last couple of months. 1981. Diana became a princess and this engineer took a transfer that meant a physical move from North Carolina to South Carolina.
My first transfer, eighteen months earlier, moved me from corporate headquarters to the tobacco area of North Carolina. I accepted this assignment to mature in my engineering skills with the promise of bringing my experience back to corporate headquarters when the assignment completed.
I took on the role of a very green construction engineer, overseeing the building of a mid-sized chemical plant as it rose from amid the cornfields outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Over the course of the construction, I absorbed as much information and learning about how things worked as I could.
Soon the plant neared completion and it was time to look for another place to land. I scoured other company openings after I was told I could return to St. Louis where I started my career, but would face certain layoff. A new plant in South Carolina was coming online and after inquiring and interviewing, I accepted their job offer. My second relocation started a few weeks later.
A realization that engineering meant being on the move soon hit me. It didn’t bother me; I was up for the adventure of meeting new people and experiencing new surroundings. I also didn’t have a family with kids in school to worry about uprooting and causing irreparable harm such that they hated their childhood. Not that that ever happens.
Most of the projects and programs I was assigned to were considered development programs. These programs utilize new technologies and there are opportunities to innovate and design new uses for the technologies. I’ve discussed in previous posts the advantages to being part of a development effort. Brand new stuff and finding new applications for the brand new stuff. Creative juices flow.
As those development projects completed, my insatiable desire for other opportunities to innovate and create led me to seek out similar projects. In thirty years I’ve moved six times. Probably about average for most engineers, I would think.
In addition to building the chemical plant, other development programs included designing new processes for silicon wafer cleaning, developing requirements for the International Space Station and redesigning components for an aerial refueling tanker prior to delivery.
Moving day in 1981 arrived on the same day as Diana’s wedding. I arose at four in the morning to watch, as the girl became a princess while I finished packing. Next week, the princess’ son is due to be married and bring another princess into the family. Thirty years fly by. Make sure they count for you as they did for me.