First-Hand:Ups and Downs in an Engineer's Career

Submitted by Rudolph Steiner

As to the "highs and lows," during the twenties and early thirties I attended college. I held interesting jobs during the forties, but they were somewhat disappointing because of the low remuneration. During the fifties and sixties, the financial situation had improved nationwide, but specific professional "pros" and "cons" continued to exist, not always knowing what caused them. There was rarely an effect by other departments on that of my activities. The general policy of each association from the highest to the lowest company echelon seems to have been: Don't rock the boat. This atmosphere was often quite discouraging.

My greatest accomplishment was gaining the confidence of my various superiors. My worst failure was probably to remain with employers whose business was on the decline without the employees' knowledge, instead of changing jobs while the changing was good. When retirement time arrived, I was definitely ready for it after having worked for a period of 39 years. Moreover, if one, such as myself, worked for an agency of the U.S. Government or for its subcontractors, contracts and employment can be created as well as terminated on a moment's notice. This happened more than once. Seeing thousands of employees walk out the door for good, one loses appetite for that kind of professional life, even though it never resulted, in my case, in periods of unemployment. There is just so much one can tolerate of such depressing situations.

Looking back, the most important people I have met in my career were the military officers of that Navy laboratory where I was employed from 1949 through 1955. They were highly educated professionals, each holding at least one academic degree, showed great personal interest in the employees' advancements and encouraged them in many ways. They earned as well as bestowed respect. Features I sorely missed in almost every other appointment.

I am definitely glad that I lived my life as an EE. I am pleased, if not proud, that I worked on projects such as the Polaris, Apollo and B1, to mention but a few.

In the course of my engineering life, I acquired 13 U.S., 3 British, 3 Austrian, 1 Belgian, 1 Italian and 1 French patents, mostly on electromagnetic devices and many of them assigned to the U.S. Government Navy Department. I am the author of numerous technical papers, many of them published in AlEE/IEEE organs and presented at AlEE/IEEE and other events.