Our guest blogger, Connie Goshgarian, has some great advice for aspiring engineers

  • Feb 27, 2015

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I have known that I wanted to be an engineer as far back as I remember. I love the challenge of solving problems and I have always been very passionate about space. I remember watching the first Apollo moon landing as a child thinking “I want to be involved in that”! I followed that passion through school working on experiments that flew on the space shuttle and into my first job out of college working on satellites.

For someone interested in engineering, there are so many options to learn today. The internet provides opportunities not just to read, but to actually do projects and to find help. You can look up information on each of the different fields of engineering. In addition, math and science teachers are often willing to put in extra effort to help an interested student. I had several such mentors growing up. Participating in things like state math contests, National Science Foundation programs and other technical functions can help increase your knowledge and also allow you to build a network of peers and mentors with similar interests. The critical thing to keep in mind is to follow your passion. If you want to do something, you will find a way, and people willing to help. Enthusiasm is contagious.

At DIRECTV, the thing I enjoy most is the opportunity to come up with innovative solutions to challenging tasks. The culture encourages collaboration with excellent colleagues which makes it a lot of fun. Rather than having a favorite specific project, I feel the most reward when a new project comes in and the foundation we designed before allows that project to be easily developed. It is easy to design a solution to a specific task. It is much more challenging to design frameworks that support multiple projects, many of which you never imagined during the original design.

The ability to think abstractly and design solutions that fit evolving needs is one of the marks of a great engineer. Another critical characteristic is the ability to work with and lead teams. Ideas play off each other. If you have a group of smart people that want to work together, amazing things happen.

And engineers can give back to their communities by helping the next generations who come behind them. This can be done in a number of ways. You can act as a mentor to neighbors or acquaintances or through a formal school program.

DIRECTV offers an intern program for college students during the summer. We put a lot of thought into the projects the students will be assigned and also to the mentor for each student. We tried to guide the students not only on how to come up with good designs but also on how to work with teams, sell their ideas, and build networks. In addition, many of the leadership programs at DIRECTV have a team building component that focuses on giving back to the community. Some examples include renovating schools that focus on STEM education and building bicycles as rewards for students who have excelled in their classwork.

 —Connie Goshgarian, VP, Engineering

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