Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
The first two years were common with all engineering departments and included physics, chemistry and mathematics along with writing and ROTC. In the last two years I specialized in the power option – related to equipment and practice of the generation, transmission, distribution, control and uses of electrical power.
I was a member of Sigma Phi Delta, an engineering fraternity where I provided and received academic peer support as well as experience in holding leadership positions.
I completed the BS degree in Electrical Engineering in four years and one summer. The summer session was needed as two of the four advanced ROTC courses were not accepted for the degree
I didn’t realize what a great experience I had until I left and was no longer under the pressure of coursework. The department had an outstanding reputation and provided its students with a comprehensive understanding of both theory and practice. The fraternity provided a supportive living environment as well as direct out of classroom contact with engineering professors through the advisor program.
Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
I applied for the U of C Graduate (Now Booth) School of Business to study for an MBA while working as an inside salesman in the Hammond Office and entered program when I became a Sales Engineer in the Chicago Office.
The motivation was both career enhancing and to learn more about the business world. Specifically, I’d not had any courses in accounting and economics while studying engineering.
A Westinghouse program paid for the program – reimbursing 1/2 the cost at the successful completion of each course and the other half at the successful completion of the degree.
The program at that time (and still does) include 20 quarterly courses. Taken at night, two courses per quarter, would allow for completion in a little more than two years. It took me a bit longer – I started in 1965 and graduated in 1968.
I was fortunate to have an economics course taught by a disciple of Milton Friedman – Harold Demsetz. According to the Wall Street Journal, He “was one of the greatest economists of the 20th century not to win a Nobel Prize”. He brought demand pricing to life which took years to bring into the power distribution and the sporting event pricing worlds.
Another professor of note was John Jeuck, who taught the capstone course in business strategy that included weekly input to a multinational manufacturing and sales business game, complete with weekly P&L and Balance Sheet reports. He sold consulting advice under the name of Arthur D. Big. The big learning event for me was the huge effects of using tax breaks in Puerto Rico. It also required a group of four of us to agree on all inputs and expenses.
Being a quantitative school, learning about computers was essential. My first language was Fortran and the user interface was a deck of punched cards submitted by a deadline. We also used the computer to do some regression analyses in a marketing class to determine the effects of various inputs.
My work at the school enabled much of what I did in my Market Planning and Strategic Planning positions.
The program changed my life by changing the way I thought about the world. No longer were actions mysterious – by going back to the root of most actions I could see the economic logic.
In addition, being an alumnus of the school has served as a touch point when I returned to Chicago and is a source of continual learning for me.
I am ever grateful for the experience.