We are continuing our multi-part interview series for Engineers Week with Mark Majka. Mark is a licensed electrical engineer with more than 35 years of experience in the high voltage power industry.
Mark Majka: If you are still in college, either co-op or get into an internship program. If you can’t, try to get into some rotating work within the company you join. There is “book smart,” but I believe you need to have field experience if you really want to be a good engineer.
MM: Leadership. Detailed person. Always formulating a plan and a backup plan.
MM: “Would you bet your life on it?” My career was in the transmission group within this electric utility. I was surrounded by very high, deadly voltages in [the] KV range. 4.16kV seemed like it was no big deal. Well, it’s not!
I was once given a task to confirm nameplate information on a piece of electrical equipment…I almost attempted to confirm the nameplate information using a make-shift mirror to read this information that was mounted on the back.
I was discussing my idea with a field technician, and I kept saying, “I’ll be okay, no big deal.”
The technician gave me a look “that could kill” and said “Would You Bet Your Life on It?” That phrase stuck with me the rest of my career and still does to this day.
MM: I went to vocational school to become a “blue collar” electrician. I got a job in my senior year of high school from 3:30 – 1:00am re-winding small motors making $3.10/hour.
I lasted three weeks. I realized that I needed to go to college, but I liked doing electrical work with my hands.I thought about being an electrical technician, but a professor said to me that an “engineer can do [a] technician’s work,” but a “technician cannot do [an] engineer’s work.”
Engineers Week is an annual event that the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) established in 1951 to promote interest in STEM careers and encourage the growth of a diverse, well-educated engineering workforce.