He had returned to snowy Michigan and was determined to complete his program of study. He told me, “Engineering helps produce a lot of stuff. And for the most part, it’s stuff we don’t really need. But I know I want to finish my degree.” He looked at me for answers.
I had just participated in an on-campus workshop that focused on developing an entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineering students. The workshop’s focus on creating value influenced my advice — and prompted me to ask a question I
had never asked students.
“Ben, forget about electrical engineering. How do you want to create value for others?”
First & Second Reactions
It didn’t take long for Ben to describe his interest in hydroponic and organic farming. He was passionate about the idea of sustainability.
My first reaction was concern. I’d opened Pandora’s box. Where was the focus on electrical engineering?
But my second reaction was to contact a chemistry colleague, sending Ben to see her. She was working on the chemistry associated with aerobic digestion, part of the process used to convert waste to usable methane fuels. Ben met with her, and it was a perfect pairing. To further her work, she needed new sensors, data
acquisition systems, and controls. These were skills that Ben either had or determined to develop.
His motivation peaked.