Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
Clifford McKeown found himself in the engineering field after serving in the United States Marine Corps, where he maintained, inspected, and tested F4-B and F4-J type aircrafts. Simultaneously working and attending school, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in instrumentation and control from Villanova University in 1996. Today, with more than 30 years of engineering experience, he holds a position as an electrical engineer at a manufacturing company for electronic instruments and electromechanical devices. His engineering background is diverse, ranging from industrial to biomedical engineering and work experience in project management and product design, development, and production.
Why did you choose to major in electrical engineering?
Electrical engineering actually chose me. In the Marine Corps, I was trained as an airframes and power plants technician. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, enlistment in the armed forces dwindled. As a result, the Corps tested many individuals to select a small group to be sent to flight school, a practice that has not happened since WWII. It was there I actually learned of my own aptitude for problem solving and mathematics.
Once discharged from the Corps, I sought a new career and started working in TV repair (in those days we did repair TVs). Under the GI Bill, I enrolled in Drexel University for electrical engineering and then Villanova University. I guess you can say I ended up as an electrical engineer because I could not get a job flying fighters in civilian life.
What did you like/dislike about majoring in electrical engineering?
I worked a full-time job and went to school at night. The only thing I disliked about majoring in electrical engineering was [being with] students who entered the program with no intention of actually becoming engineers. Their only purpose is to get out into the field and become a manger. As I have progressed through my career, I have found so many electrical engineers who never practiced. In my world, that’s a total waste of an education and they take up space from those who may wish to become electrical engineers.
How has your major impacted your career or influenced your career path?
It set the stage for my design career. Until I entered a university, I was undecided as to what I would really transition to in civilian life.
What knowledge/skills did you obtain from majoring in electrical engineering that you still put to use in your current position?
I am still a design engineer and the problem-solving skills introduced in my education I still very much use.
What advice would you give to students thinking about majoring in electrical engineering?
If you’re in it for the money, forget about it and go into to dry wall installation. If you’re in it for fame, forget about it go into acting. If you’re in it for the daily frustration and periodic failure, you have selected the right profession.