First-Hand:A Lifelong Career in Engineering, An Interview with Darrel E. Moll


Submitted by Darrel E. Moll

Q: Why did you become an engineer?

A: I didn't have enough money to become a doctor.

Q: When did you first start thinking about engineering as a career?

A: K. P. L. offered me a job at Manhattan, Kansas where I could go to Kansas State University.

Q: Who were your role models?

A: W.S. Wick, K.P.L. Superintendent at Hutchinson, Kansas.

Q: Did you have a mentor?

A: Yes, Miss Helen Moore at Hutchinson Junior College and later at Kansas State University-the Dean of Women, Math.

Q: What was your first job?

A: I was a draftsman at K.P.L.

Q: How did you get it?

A: Through a recommendation from Hutch Junior College.

Q: What were your responsibilities on your first job as an engineer?

A: I worked at a small power plant on transmission lines where I gave job assignments and materials to line foremen.

Q: What technical area did you specialize in?

A: Power engineering.

Q: Why did you choose that specialty?

A: It was my first job.

Q: Did your career in this area progress smoothly or did you move around within various technical specialties and job descriptions?

A: After the war, I changed to telephone toll transmission testing methods and test set design. My next step was mechanical engineering on gas turbines, then testing of purchased items.

Q: Did you stay at the drafting board or move into management?

A: I was the Power Department Chief for five years.

Q: What jobs, projects, special assignments met your work expectations, exceeded them or came up short?

A: Test set design was enjoyable.

Q: How much freedom were you allowed in producing results?

A: I had very little supervision.

Q: What were the little frictions, miscommunications or directives that would interfere with your work?

A: I had two "bad" supervisors.

Q: Would you have changed the organizational structure you operated in to increase job satisfaction and results?

A: In raise and appraisal conferences, I would allow equal time to each supervisor for his men and not just the loudest mouth and the fastest tongue taking over the conference.

Q: What were the new technologies you had to deal with?

A: Transistor technology.

Q: Did you feel threatened by the new technologies?

A: Not at first, but after five years as a supervisor, there was too much progress.

Q: How did world events, such as the Depression and World War II affect you personally?

A: I lost five years.

Q: How do you view your career growth now and how did you feel about it then?

A: Not a problem. I'm retired now and I am enjoying life.

Q: At what age did you feel the most roadblocks to your career?

A: After age 52. Younger engineers were handed the better projects.

Q: What major and minor ethical dilemmas did you encounter at various times?

A: Suppliers offered too much entertainment.

Q: Were you an observer or active participant and how did you deal with the situations?

A: We just said we couldn't accept it.

Q: Did the IEEE (AlEE / IRE) live up to your expectations when joining?

A: I enjoy the lectures.

Q: Did you join other professional associations?

A: No.

Q: Looking back on your career, what do you see as your greatest accomplishment?

A: Test sets designed for installers were demanded by telephone companies for maintenance.

Q: Looking back on your career, what was your worst failure?

A: I couldn't get a fair share of the raises for my men.

Q: When retirement time arrived, were you ready for it?

A: Yes.

Q: Are you glad you lived your life as an EE?

A: Yes.