In my long career as a professional engineer specializing in hydrology and hydraulic engineering, I must have given more than 100 lectures, seminars, and talks to other engineers. One of those sessions, particularly, has stayed in my mind.
Each time I peruse old files for possible column material, I find a "business card" and wonder about a young man I met many years ago at one such event. I was asked to present a seminar on hydrology and hydraulics at an international symposium on urban stormwater runoff at the University of Kentucky. While I was in Lexington, a college student, David Weldon, astonished me and earned my admiration by handing me the following card:
Each time I ran across the card in recent years I have wondered: Did David Weldon graduate? Did he get a degree in civil engineering? Did he practice engineering? Did he become a licensed professional engineer? Does he remember me?
Without any information concerning his career, I would venture the opinion that someone as young as he was at that time who had the foresight to advertise and make appropriate people aware of his future availability would have done quite well in whatever career path he ultimately followed.
Immodestly, I even dare to hope that my own very minor role in his early development might have had something to do with his ultimate career. However, if he didn’t like how I spoke, or what I spoke about, there were many other excellent speakers attending the seminar at the University of Kentucky who might have inspired him and influenced his future. For those reasons, I commend David for taking the time during his summer break (the seminar was held in July) to attend the conference.
David had the right idea in distributing his business card at the conference. It might have resulted in a summer job. It is even possible that his first permanent, fulltime job out of college was with someone he met at the conference and to whom he gave his card. I’m sure, given his demonstrated ability in the area of public relations, that he was able to let people know about his availability.
We engineers are usually content to cloak our ability and useful attributes by modestly doing our work quietly and efficiently without self-promotion. In fact, we probably are a little too quiet about our achievements.
In addition, when we are in a technical school, such as a college of engineering, we tend to forget that not only do we have to be good at what we do, but we also have to let the world know that we are available and can perform services that will deservedly find a market in the modern technological world of the future. Therefore, I was amazed when David Weldon handed me the business card reproduced above.
I hope if he reads this column that it will not prove to be an embarrassment, and that he does not take offense to my referring to him by his first name. To me, he will always remain a mystery and be remembered as someone who I thought had a bright and promising future ahead of him. I have always felt a glow whenever I ran across his card in my prehistoric filing system and was reminded of when and where I received it. I have been fully aware of the fact that I had met a man who was far ahead of his time in the area of marketing engineering services.
P.S.: David, if you read this, I would be pleased to hear from you and learn about your ultimate career track.
Alfred R. Pagan, P.E., P.L.S., is a consulting engineer in Hackensack, N.J. He can be reached at 201-441-9719; or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.