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Engineering -- A Family Affair

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Posted: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 6:35 am | Updated: 1:39 am, Wed Jun 4, 2014.

(NewsUSA) - John A. Roebling and his son Washington are arguably the most famous father and son in the history of engineering. Their shared triumph -- the design and 1883 completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, connecting what had been the two separate cities of New York and Brooklyn -- is one of the signal engineering achievements in U.S. history.

But the Roeblings' family story of engineering is just one of many. Engineering, maybe even more than other professions, can be very much "a family affair." There is a long-running story of engineers teaching their kids just how interesting, fun and rewarding the profession can be.

"It was definitely the case in my family," said Iana Aranda, an enthusiastic member of the profession who is also the daughter and niece of engineers. "As a kid, I had always been my dad's helper in all the projects he would take on," she said. "And he'd always share the investigation with me. 'How are we going to solve this?' he'd say. And then later on, when I was making up my mind on a career direction, he asked really good, tough questions and helped me find my way."

Today, Aranda combines these passions as senior program manager in the Engineering for Global Development program of ASME, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. She helps guide the efforts of Engineering for Change (www.engineeringforchange.org), a pioneering enterprise devoted to bringing the benefits of technology to less-advantaged areas of the world. Doing so, she's writing her family's latest chapter in its story of engineering.

Tom Loughlin's family story is another case in point. "My mother's father was an engineer," said Loughlin, the executive director of ASME. "He worked at Ingersoll & Rand on reciprocating pumps and had the most patents in his entire work group."

But Tom's grandfather was just the first of a long line, on both sides of his family. "My dad's father was an electrical engineer," said Loughlin. He worked on communications instruments and founded his own company, which became one of the earliest acquisitions of Hewlett Packard. And his son -- that is, my dad -- was also a mechanical engineer. He had maybe 15 or 20 of his own patents. My brother is a mechanical engineer who holds 10 patents or so; his area of work is electronics and fiber optics."

Will engineering continue in the Loughlin household? "Well, we'll see," Loughlin said. "My older daughter is a sculptor, and I can see engineering in the depth, solidity and dynamism of her work. My younger one -- she does lean toward math and technology, so I wouldn't be surprised if she moved in that direction."

If she does choose a career in engineering, she won't be the first, or last, to see the rewards and advantages of the engineering profession. For more information on mechanical engineering or how young people can find their way to a great career, please visit www.asme.org.

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