Tom Coughlin

2024 IEEE President

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: I was inspired by my reading as a young kid as well as TV. I was into mostly hard science fiction and I wanted to help create the technologies that I read about. I have been interested in being a scientist or engineer for as long as I can remember. My heroes were Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg and many others. I also loved the Star Trek series (all of them, and I watched the first series live). I read every book I could on scientists and engineers in grade school and in high school I had a lab in my basement where I did experiments, made and launched little rockets, did some research work and interacted with folks at two local universities, took all the math classes that my high school had available. I even wrote a paper on “Possible Precambrian Fossils in Sioux Quartzite” and presented it at the South Dakota Academy of Science.

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