By Scott Emery, SVP, Head of Commissioning
A few days ago I spent half an hour on Google Hangouts talking to a sixth grade class in a small town in Missouri. I was online with the class from my Washington, D.C. office because a week earlier their inspired teacher put out a call on Facebook for scientists to talk to her classes about climate change and how their day-to-day work relates to it. As an engineer I don’t work directly on climate change, but I do work every day to help make buildings more energy efficient. So, I put my name in the hat and was privileged to get the chance to talk to the class.
I sent the class a bit of information on energy use in buildings and on geothermal heating and cooling, which is my area of specialty. The kids used that information to get prepared and asked a lot of great questions. Afterwards, I got an email from the teacher thanking me for taking the time to speak with her class. She wrote,
“They (her students) were so excited when we hung up… you didn’t get to see the sheer excitement they had about meeting a real scientist but they seriously blew up! They loved being able to get information from the source… Thank you again for doing this, you really opened up a window into another world for these kids… I had one stay after class and questioned me about good schools for engineering and I will be meeting with that student tomorrow before school to talk about future plans. You really made an impact with him.”
The email made my day. It reminded that over my life time many people invested time in me and inspired me to reach beyond what I might have done otherwise.
For most of us, it is easy to get focused on our day to day work, to put 100% of our effort into getting the next result or reaching the next milestone. Reality is none of us got where we are in science and engineering without some help. Someone inspired us; someone showed us the way when we were unsure; someone unlocked our potential in a way we might not have done on our own. I am thankful to all who have helped me.
My Google Hangout with a middle school class in Missouri reminded me that part of the return on investment that I owe is inspiring and teaching the next generation to pursue science and engineering. It was time well spent and I will gladly accept the next call. How about you?