HMLD (Heavy, Medium, and Light Duty) Diesel Product Validation Engineer, Cummins Inc., Columbus, IN
- Buffalo Gap High School, Augusta County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Technology Foundations; Engineering Exploration; Technical Drawing and Design; Engineering Drawing and Design; Architectural Drawing and Design
- Additional studies: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech; Associate of Science with a specialization in Engineering, Blue Ridge Community College
by Jessica Sabbath
During his senior year of college, Curtis Long was captain of a team that designed, built and raced off-road vehicles in national Baja SAE races. “Engineering isn’t just sitting in a room doing engineering problems all day long,” says Curtis. “In college you can actually apply it to something hands-on, and it can be a lot of fun.”
The races, which served as his senior capstone project, are sponsored by many engineering companies and led to his current job at Cummins.
Today, Curtis is a validation engineer at Cummins. He specializes in analyzing and testing oil drains on engines the company manufactures. “I test how long customers can go between oil changes,” he says. “It’s a big deal for the bigger engines, because the longer they go between changing oil, the more money they save and the more work time they have.”
Curtis and other Cummins engineers put the engines through a variety of tests, analyzing oil samples, measuring data from engines running 24-7 in testing cells, monitoring data from customers who are testing engines for the company, and taking engines apart after their tests to examine components.
During his two years at Virginia Tech, Curtis completed internships with construction machinery manufacturer Caterpillar. He realized there that he enjoyed the hands-on nature of validation engineering as opposed to design- related jobs. “In internships you learn what you like to do, and sitting behind a desk designing things all day long just wasn’t for me,” says Curtis.
Curtis can trace his interest in engineering back to his childhood. “I was always tinkering with stuff,” Curtis recalls. “When I was little I had a toolset, and I used to just tear things apart for the fun of it.”
A teacher suggested he take engineering courses in high school, which helped him realize he was on the right career path. “I love the day-to-day challenge,” says Curtis. “There’s always a new problem to be solved.”
Tool Designer/Detailer, Federal-Mogul Corp., Blacksburg
- Christiansburg High School, Montgomery County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Introduction to Engineering Design (PLTW);Engineering Drawing and Design; Civil Engineering and Architecture (PLTW); Advanced Drawing and Design
- Additional studies: Associate of Applied Science in Computer Aided Drafting and Design with a specialization in Mechanical Drafting, New River Community College; pursuing Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Old Dominion University
Designing the details
by Jessica Sabbath
Casey Bowler was introduced to drafting and design when she visited a class at New River Community College.
While taking a variety of drafting and design classes in high school, Casey’s interest in the field was solidified. “When I was in high school I really loved the drafting classes, and I knew that was something I wanted to pursue,” she says.
Today she uses her skills as a tool drafter/designer at Federal-Mogul Corp., which manufactures automotive products.
In her job, she has a variety of roles. Some days, she may help with the design of engine bearings. Other days, she may figure out why a part isn’t being produced with the right specifications. “I have to figure out what’s wrong in the tooling,” says Casey.
One of the best parts of her job is being able to see her designing and drafting come to fruition. “At work I’m actually able to go out on the floor and see how my design is implemented. I can see how it worked or how I could improve it or change the design. I like to be able to see something that I did carried out and see how it affects what we do.”
Casey is pursuing a mechanical engineering degree through Old Dominion University’s distance-learning program, and she takes classes at New River Community College. “Drafting is what I love, but I would like to be able to do more of the hands-on work that the engineers do,” she says. “I would like to stay in drafting, or if I moved up to engineering, I would hope that I could still apply my drafting skills and knowledge to what I was doing as an engineer.”
Lead Test Engineer, Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News
- Sussex Central High School, Sussex County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Design, Multimedia, and Web Technologies; Business Management; Economics and Personal Finance; JROTC I and II
- Additional studies: Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering, Hampton University, Hampton; Pursuing Master’s of Engineering in Engineering Management, Old Dominion University, Norfolk
Overhauling Navy ships
by Veronica Garabelli
You could say Darius Johnson’s job is to keep a ship running smoothly, but not just any ship.
As a lead test engineer for Newport News Shipbuilding, he tests the equipment on massive U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers after they’ve been overhauled (a process that begins when the carriers are 25 years old, so they can keep running for another 25 years). Currently, he’s working on the overhaul of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, scheduled for completion in 2016.
“It’s more of a hands-on job than an office job, which is pretty much exactly what I was looking for,” says Darius, who enjoys interacting with the aircraft carrier’s equipment and other workers involved in the overhaul, including U.S. Navy personnel, mechanics, and electricians.
Darius has been interested in engineering for as long as he can remember, but it wasn’t until high school that he decided to pursue it as a career. He liked that the field paid well and provided a chance to invent and design a wide array of things – from video game systems to television sets. Initially he leaned toward computer engineering but after talking to his college advisers, he decided to pursue electrical engineering because it offered more career opportunities.
His career fundamentals started well before college. Darius took chemistry and physics during high school, subjects he says are heavily used in engineering. An Advanced Placement Calculus course helped give him basic mathematics skills, and his English classes aided him in the communication aspects of his job. “They gave me the ability to handle all of the writing that’s involved even though a lot of people don’t think about the writing, but in engineering, there are a lot of reports and speaking and that sort of thing.”
Even today, Darius hasn’t stopped learning. He’s currently pursuing a master’s in engineering management from Old Dominion University. The biggest piece of advice Darius has for others eager to get into the field is to use their noggins. “A lot of people get turned away from engineering because they think, ‘It’s going to be too hard, I have to know everything,’ but it’s really about being able to think your way through a problem or situation,” says Darius, whose ultimate career goal is to start an engineering consulting firm.
The Career Clusters logo and its extensions are the property of the National Career Technical Foundation, as managed by NASDCTEc. Some content on this page is from the publication, R U College & Career Ready? - 2017 Edition; and is used here with permission from the Virginia Business Publications LLC and Trailblazers in the Demographics and Workforce Section of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.