Walter Downing

IEEE Life Senior Member, IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society, IEEE Vehicular Technology Society, IEEE Robotics and Automation 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 K-12 years were during the era of the Space Race, culminating with the moon landing in the year that I graduated from high school. Like many of my generation, I can remember watching the early satellites track across the skies and the television broadcasts of each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. It was exciting and by the time I reached middle school I had decided that I wanted to become an engineer.

Even before then, though, I was always interested in building things. My father was very handy with tools, and he spent a lot of his spare time making things for our home. He built a kid-sized fort, including a stockade and two-story blockhouse, for my brother and I. We were the envy of all our elementary school friends. He encouraged us to participate in these projects to acquire hands-on training and gain a sense of ownership and pride in the results.

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