Generations of Engineers

Author: Teresa Walker, Engineering Education
Event Date: November 4, 2019
This week we celebrate First Generation College Awareness with a twist! We asked our First-Year Engineering students, "Are you a 1st Gen Engineer?"

On Monday, November 4, FYE students received an email from our head, Dr. Donna Riley, with a guest message written by Associate Professor Senay Purzer:

Are you a 1st Generation Engineer? 
I have asked the question “are you a first generation engineer” many times over the years in my sections of ENGR 131. It is important to our school and program that we recognize our 1st gen engineers, as we are glad you made the decision to pursue a career solving the world’s problems through engineering! Did you know that you are not only impacting the world but also impacting future generations in your families – your siblings, cousins, parents and caregivers? You might not notice yourselves, but those around you will see your passion to fix whatever issue is before you. It will soon come naturally and all-inspiring to your close-knit community. Just think, your career path as an engineer might someday inspire others around you. 

Equally as important, are you from a family of engineers? 
What a privilege to be embedded in a network that values and understands what engineering is! You may feel that “engineering is in your blood” as you have grown up around engineer career relatives. We encourage you to ask questions about their daily work. Engineers typically work with all disciplines of engineering, so ask them to tell you more about their experiences in teams and multidisciplinary projects that require each to contribute their own expertise. Consider their stories as part of your career exploration, as their candid knowledge can be such a great tool for you and your peers as you share your family experiences with those around you right here at Purdue University. (Hence, that those before you in your family planted a seed for you that can now be shared with others!)



FYE students self-identified their generation as an engineering student with the opportunity to highlight who inspired them to pursue a career in engineering. Below are submissions with permission to share. Keep checking back this week as we will add more each day!

Helms Family
Diane Helms, Hunter Helms, Donald Helms (Electrical Engineering at New Mexico State University 1970) 

Hunter Helms, First-Year Engineering Student
From Plano, TX USA and a Multi-Generation Engineer

Hunter's inspiration: My grandfather, Don Helms, Inspired me to be an engineer.
"Ever since I was little my grandfather has told me his stories from his adventures as an engineer. Ranging from him working on Apollo 11 to designing power plants in India to him working on oil refineries in Louisiana, his stories have always encaptured my attention so readily. These stories quickly led me to try out engineering classes in high school and from there I have been pursuing engineering ever since. I'm so appreciative of my grandfather and the special bond we have from being the only engineers in a family of humanities majors."


Horst Family
Scott Horst (left) | Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale University - 1993 and Manager at Ford Motor Company 

Emily Horst, First-Year Engineering Student
From Brighton, MI USA and a Multi-Generation Engineer

Emily's inspiration: My dad, Scott Horst
"As a mechanical engineer and manager at Ford Motor Company, my dad has fueled my passion for mathematics, science, and technology. His influence throughout my life has lead me to pursue engineering at Purdue. Thank you, Dad, for cultivating my love for STEM and supporting my journey to becoming an engineer like you!"


Foss Williams, First-Year Engineering Student
"Army Brat" and a First Generation Engineer

Foss's inspiration: My older brother Brett. He always wanted to do engineering, but he didn't do very well in school. 
"If you're not doing something you love, then why are you doing it?" 



Katie and Ric Kosiba at the Engineering Fountain
Katie Kosiba, FYE, and her father Ric Kosiba, who earned his PhD at Purdue in Civil Engineering in 1991.

Katie Kosiba, First-Year Engineering Student
From Crofton, MD USA and a Multi-Generation Engineer

Katie's inspiration: My dad Ric Kosiba, my grandfather Rich Kosiba, my brother Chris Kosiba, and my FIRST Robotics Coach Amy Brunner
"I come from a big family of Purdue grads, most of them engineers. My biggest inspiration, my dad, has always encouraged me to be the best that I can be through both robotics and my studies. I have always looked up to him and could not be more proud to be following in his footsteps here at Purdue." 


Kazuhiko Nagata
Mr. Nagata, Auto Mechanic

Joseph Poulsen, First-Year Engineering Student
From Sussex, WI USA and a First Generation Engineer

Joseph's inspiration: Kazuhiko Nagata, he got me interested in engineering and was a mentor to me. 
"Mr. Nagata inspired me to chase my dreams, and to not listen to those who told me to give up." 


Muhammad Abdulbaqi

Muhammad Abdulbaqi, First-Year Engineering Student
From Rajshahi, Bangladesh and a 2nd Generation Engineer

Muhammad's inspiration: Abdulbaqi Sharaf, my father
"Originally my dad was a computer engineer. He did his PhD (Leeds University) on text mining, which I found very interesting - analyzing huge data sets and extrapolating relevant data from it. Ever since then, I've been hooked on computers. My dad is a senior statistician in a bank in Jeddah Saudi Arabia." 


Rachael Snow

Rachael Snow, First-Year Engineering Student
From Muncie, IN USA and a 1st Generation Engineer
"You don't have to know an engineer to become one. You just have to know what you enjoy. If you enjoy math and science and have a passion for problem-solving, engineering would be a great fit for you!"

Rachael's Inspiration
"My physics professor in high school, Stephen Schuh, was excellent, and caused me to pursue physics as a career. At a summer internship in particle physics at Taylor University with Dr. Ken Kiers, I discovered that I loved physics and math but also working with people. The professor I was interning with recommended that I look into engineering. I went to the Purdue STEP (Seminar for Top Engineering Prospects) camp to see if engineering would be a good fit for me and loved it! That last year of high school, I took as much science and math as I got excited to begin college as an engineer. Now that I am here at Purdue, I'm loving the discipline more than ever, and enjoy being challenged in math and science."