journalman's Diaryland Diary


Education and Civil Liberties

Pardon me if I ramble. Sometimes just typing out thoughts and being able to see them helps to organize them mentally.


With all that is going on, including all the introspection I've been doing, I've concluded that I need to go back to school. I chose to use that word 'need' carefully.

Going to school... homework, late-nights studying, exams, lectures, and notes is not something I WANT to do now. It makes me shudder to even thing about it.

However now that I know that I will work in my present industry (architecture/engineering design) for the rest of my life, the time as come to add a little street cred to my bag of tricks.

I'm 31, well along in my career, and no longer have the luxury of studying what I 'want to'. I had that chance, but I didn't run with it. My sister is an MD... she ran with it. I halfheartedly pursued a different type of career, picking up valuable talents, knowledge, and connections along the way.

So I'm not saying I've wasted time by not being in school.

But I am saying that I run an Architecture/Engineering firm. I hope to run this company, and related businesses, for the rest of my life.

My education in Psych and Econ, and graduate study in CogSci specilizing in decision-making and buying behavior are all very interesting. My experience prior to this firm is marketing analysis, real estate finance, and consulting that dealt with analyzing humans to sell product and/or keep politicians elected.

I'm a blast in a room full of fund managers, marketing people, and developers. They love my stories. It's a party.

In a roomful of engineers, I'm a girlie-man. I can't even complain about it.

Even though I write proposals & get contracts signed every single week for what we pay these Engineers ANNUALLY, I still envy the Engineers. I could be so much more effective... so much more secure in my future, if I were ALSO an Engineer.

It's like we're at the begininng of the 1700's. My family is in this business, and if I want to be in it also, I have to go off and learn the trade. There is enormous dignity that comes from this, which frankly, I think is a bit underrated.

Sure I can probably float by without going to Engineering school, maybe. With some luck and my brother's loyalty, I could probably pull off running a successful business for the rest of my life. But I think unless I'm an Engineer also, I am keeping myself from greatness.

If you ask me right now what I would like to achieve with my career, the answer comes back in a single word: greatness.


I think Iím lucky enough to not need to go to a big-name school. When it comes to engineering, big-name schools help ONLY in the following 4 ways:

1 - Access to cooler internships at cooler companies doing cooler things while in school. Not relevant in my case. You should see some of the stuff we're doing at work. We don't have the desk space for interns, but don't think for a second we're less cool because of it.

2 - Being on the cutting edge of a research field. I'll give you that one... like if you're passionate about designing solar cells for Pluto-residing rock vaporizers, I would seriously suggest going to MIT. Or Cooper (where my father went). But I'm not looking to be a cutting-edge engineer. If I'm very lucky, I'll be passionate enough one day to sit for the state licensing exam. But that's it.

3 - Developing friendships, associations, and late-night drinking stories with Ďmenschí in the field. Children of the priviledged set, people who will sail with you and toss you giant engineering contracts one day because of it. Itís not relevant. I sit on 2 boards of the American lnstitute of Arch, and weíre talking about where to be a first-year undergraduate student.

4 - Impressing prospective employers. Not relevant.

Now, some realities:

While I am a damn-good marketer, one canít run a steakhouse on sizzle alone. There has to be substance. My father and I make a good team because of this.
Without Engineering creds, Iím always dependent upon those who have them to make a buck in this town. Iím fortunate to be developing a brand around my fatherís team of engineers that I can to roll into.
All I need is the book-learnin. I can get tremendous support and exposure on a daily basis.

So Iíve decided on city college. If they let me take my Calcs at the community college, then even better. I'd be able to attend on my bike commute between home and work.

Ryan put it succinctly: ďYou better stop smoking the ganja. Weíre not talking about a yoga class, here.Ē This from a guy who nearly flunked out of boating school. And also happens to be one of the most impressive technology-for-finance geeks on the planet. Shit.

I have motivation and opportunity. Do I have the ability? If Iím going to do this, heís right about the ganja you know.

My objective is the Bachelor's degree. In Psych and Econ, itís a cake walk. But we're talking about 4 semesters of Calculus and a ton of Physics here. And those are just the pre-requisities to the ACTUAL Engineering classes.

Iím going to start slowly. Calculus II. Principles of Engineering design. This semester, if they let me come in this late in the game. Non-matric is fine for now.

Itís the 1700ís. And I am looking for greatness by 2010.

1:57 a.m. - 2006-08-28


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