I had the pleasure of interviewing a gentleman named Brian Scott, a polymer engineer. He currently uses his degree working at the business he owns: Custom Design Technology, in Laurel, Mississippi. We held our meeting on March fifth in his personal office on the premise of Custom Design Technology at around nine thirty in the morning. Mr. Scott was remarkably laid back through the entire interview and set up a relaxed atmosphere for the conference.
We started the interview with some starters, more commonly known as “Icebreakers.” These openers ranged from simple “hello, how are you’s” to discussing common interests, all of this led to a simple and relaxed interview when the pre-written questions were brought into play.
I opened the prewritten portion with a common question: what had introduced him to engineering as a profession. His answer was not unlike my own. Science fiction! He claimed that science fiction was his main inspiration for entering the field of engineering, he had loved the novels he had read as a young teen and it fueled his want to push the world into the new age.
Next up I quizzed him about his climb into this field. What did it take to gain a foothold? His answer was fairly simple and laced with a little apprehension, he had gotten a handle on the understanding of math. That, he claimed, was really all it took to gain a good spot in an engineering or engineering adjacent fields. Math, I would come to find out, is a running theme for need of an engineer.
Math would again come into play as I asked of his advice for those entering the college atmosphere.
“What advice do you have for those entering the field?” was my query,
“Learn more math.” A simple, straightforward, and clear answer.
We laughed for a moment at the absurdity of mathematics coming into play in quick succession. Only to laugh again as it became the joke of several more of my questions.
“What was your greatest hurdle for coming into this field?”
“What is your advice for ‘up-&-come-ers’ in your field?’
“Study more math.”
What laughed for quite a while after these questions, but we would realize we had to move on fairly quickly, as one who runs a company is never idle or free for long.
I inquired about what Scott considered his greatest accomplishment in his field and suffice to say that my jaw was cascading to the floor when he told me.
“I’d have to say my greatest accomplishment would be saving the company I worked for over 80 million dollars.”
After I had recovered from the shock of the size of that number, he elaborated that he had been working with a company that was making a 4-Billion-dollar deal for a product they sold. Mr. Scott had been on the team that was surveying the deal when he thought to himself that he could easily cut some unnecessary costs in the production if he were to engineer a new material to use that would be more effective in the long term. He went out of his way to spend time workshopping this said material. After a few weeks, he had it, a material that cost nearly a thousand dollars less per unit to make, and in a deal of multiple billion dollars, that thousand adds up very quickly.
It took me so long to remove myself from being star struck from the magnificence of such a feat, that the absurdity of the answer to my next question left us both reeling from laughter.
After hearing of this amazing accomplishment, I beseeched him for his greatest folly. He claimed it to be the first day he was hired to a new company, when he spilled an acidic plastic on his brand-new bosses’ brand-new carpet. Which, he mentioned, was never fixed in the two and a half years he worked there.
In an attempt to break away from the giggles we had thrown ourselves into, I asked a more pointed question about the competitive nature of the engineering field. He was rather dismayed to relay that “yes” engineering is a highly competitive profession, and no matter how friendly and comfortable we are with our coworkers we should never forget that fact.
“Never forget,” he warns, “that people’s goals will always outweigh their respect for the people they surround themselves with.”
To wrap things up I asked him if he had a story that would relay the gist of the engineering field to us, and if he’d be willing to tell it. Unfortunately, he had no such story. But all in all the interview was a great success.