Michael Zyda

IEEE Fellow, IEEE Computer Society

Q: What inspired you to become an engineer? Were you always interested in technology? If so, why? If not, when did you become interested and why?

A: My father was an electrical engineer, with a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. He designed power supplies for airplanes, satellites and the space shuttle. Whenever a plane took off with a power supply he designed, he would take me to Burbank Airport to watch. We also went to many air shows and missile launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base. And, most exciting, he brought me pictures of satellites crashing into the moon from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory! When I was in 7th grade, he gave me all his engineering books and I read through them and taught myself how to design and build radios. So, my life was surrounded by engineering from the start. When I became a father, I took my son to work with me at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he asked permission to take apart and explore old computers in the junk room. My son is now also an engineer at the interface between software and physical systems, robots, space satellites, autonomous planes and cars. So inspiration to become an engineer is at least three generations long in my family. Take your children to work with you and show them something cool!