What is perseverance? Don’t worry! No dictionary’s definition will be given here. Let me tell you instead what perseverance means to me personally. My first thought of perseverance is of a former student of ours who is now a very successful engineer in the industry. His company likes him very much. His management admires him a lot. And his progressive, and accelerated, track record of promotion speaks for itself. But he struggled while he was an engineering student here with us! His physics courses did not like him. His calculus series and his differential equation class didn’t like him. I suppose he didn’t like those courses either. He struggled through engineering courses as well. He did do well in several engineering classes that he had his heart in, though. I remembered seeing him repeating several courses that he did not pass. This student was not an A student by any stretch of imagination, or B, for that matter. He was, for sure, an energizer who kept going and going and going….If you don’t know what I am referring to, be happy. It means you are young! Just go back and click on that commercial and be informed. Back to that student of ours: He knew what he wanted to be. He wanted to be an engineer to be a problem solver. He saw his goal clearly beyond the various barricades along the way which he knew he had to jump over or walk over or climb over or crawl over…Whatever it took! Thinking of that student now, I am recalling Winston Churchill’s exhortation “if you are going through hell, keep going!” How true! Studying engineering is tough. Engineering curriculum is demanding. Barricades are high and long and, in some cases, sequential. The end goal, however, is well worth the pursuing—helping people to live better, designing engines to run more efficiently and preserving the environment to be more sustainable. That academically struggling student several years ago is today professionally successful and well placed. Perseverance made that possible! If struggling is what you are going through as you just ended your engineering year (perhaps your first), keep going my friends. Let me borrow Abraham Lincoln’s word to bring this writing to a close: I am a slow walker, but I never walk back. That is perseverance, engineering students! One year down. Let’s rest awhile to go at it again in the fall.
Professor of Engineering and Director of Accreditation