It is amazing what you can learn apprenticed to someone who knows how to teach and mentor.
Author Harry T. Roman’s father loved to solve problems, and invent things on the spot. And in IEEE-USA’s new, free audio book for members: Valuable Career Lessons I Learned in Dad’s Workshop — Vol.1: Be Creative; Plan Ahead — Roman pays tribute to his father by gathering vignettes from more than 40+ years of these lessons. He demonstrates how they are very relevant to modern day engineering.
Always inspiring and often humorous, in Volume 1 of this two-volume series, Roman concentrates on what he learned from his father about creativity and planning. Describing his boyhood as his “wonder years,” the author relates, with both admiration and insights, how he learned valuable career lessons while helping his father in the large basement workshop of their home. His dad, a master of what Roman calls “unstructured problem-solving,” discarded almost nothing. At the same time, his father always found new, repurposed uses for the most mundane items–including used-up batteries and the cast-off foot pedal for a sewing machine.
Roman explains that his father honed his skills during World War II — making repairs with whatever was on hand. His naval detachment in the South Pacific jungles fixed anything the enemy had blown up, and the military wanted fixed. Before enlisting, the elder Roman had grown up on a farm, where he learned to repair broken farm equipment with what was readily available.
In a humorous anecdote, illustrating the need for thinking creatively, the author relates an incident when his father repaired an old toaster that his mother wanted to replace. Roman’s dad spot-welded the connection back to the heating element — using two carbon rods that he had scavenged from old batteries.
The elder Roman also taught his son that having the right tools on hand to perform a job, was necessary for planning for a successful outcome. For example, when preparing to work on the family car, Roman’s dad insisted on laying out all the necessary tools and parts the night before.
“The penalty for not having the right tools was always the same,” Roman says, “If I caused the work to stop for want of a tool, I had to put all the tools back in the tool box, lug it all the way back to the workshop, get the right tool, and lug everything all the way back again.”
He notes, “Learning to have the right tools stayed with me my entire engineering career.” That particular lesson taught him to plan and organize well. He points out that if his planning and organization skills had been sub-par, he would not have survived, or thrived, in his chosen profession.
Such skills maximize scarce corporate resources, and demonstrate to senior management an appreciation for taking care of the company’s property.
“In 36 years on the job, I never overran a budget,” he says. “I attribute that to my dad, and the lessons I leaned in the old basement workshop.”
IEEE members can download their free audio book in MP3 format, by going to: https://ieeeusa.org/shop/audiobooks/.
Just follow the instructions for your free download — no promo code is required! Don’t miss this great free gift from IEEE-USA — a $2.99 value — to add to your personal listening resource library.
You can also purchase the companion e-book at: https://ieeeusa.org/shop/careers/valuable-career-lessons-learned-dads-workshop-vol-1-creative-plan-ahead/ for only $2.99 for members. Non-members pay $4.99.
Georgia C. Stelluto is IEEE-USA’s Publishing Manager; Manager/Editor of IEEE-USA E-BOOKS; InFocus Department Editor for IEEE-USA InSight; and Co-Editor of the IEEE-USA Conference Brief.