Things they don’t teach you in school

Background: I am currently a Junior in the Mechanical Engineering program at the U of M – Twin Cities. This past January I accepted an 8 month, full-time internship with St. Jude Medical.  I am part of the R&D (Research and Development) group in the Cardiovascular Division.

For a variety of reasons I spend a large portion of my time at work in the machine shop. It is my understanding that I am not at all required to but it allows me to be involved in every part of the R&D process. The machinist, Ed, enjoys teaching and has sort of taken me under his wing. Ed is almost always swamped with projects meaning that if you need something built it could take days or weeks.

One day, Ed and I were working in the shop when our mutual boss, Ralph, came in with a pretty urgent project which he hoped Ed would expedite. Now some people come into the shop, throw down CAD drawings and quickly leave expecting Ed to drop everything for their project, but Ralph knew better. After casually chatting with Ed for a while, Ralph handed Ed some CAD drawings and said, “Alright Ed, here is an opportunity [he paused for dramatic effect] to excel. This project goes all the way to the top (it didn’t at all). Before today Dan Starks (St. Jude CEO) said ‘Ed who?’ but not after this project. 20 years from now employees will still be talking about you!” Ralph said this with a smile and Ed knew it was BS but he appreciated the effort and quickly finished the parts for Ralph.

Weeks later I was at my desk when Ralph approached me. With a smirk on his face he said, “Alright Anthony, I have an opportunity for you to excel…”

Apparently there was an urgent project that no one wanted to do, so Ralph needed me to do it ASAP. It turned out to be a great project; very interesting and enjoyable but now when I am approached by an unusually friendly superior, I expect to receive an important, urgent, or undesirable assignment.

My coincidental meetings with former Minnesota Governor Al Quie

Almost exactly 4 years ago, I had the exciting opportunity to travel to Rochester for the Minnesota Republican Convention as my father was elected as a state delegate. When we arrived at the convention I received a visitor name tag which I wore proudly, thinking it looked quite official. Although only delegates were officially allowed on the floor during the convention, I found my way in to hang out with my dad. I took a seat in the back row next to an older gentleman. I’ve always enjoyed conversing with old folks and hearing their stories so naturally we started talking. He told me all about his childhood and later his experience in the Navy. After about 15 minutes my dad came to get me so I kindly thanked him for talking with me. As I was leaving I noticed his name tag said “Former Governor.” I was quite excited that I had a chance to meet him and talk uninterrupted. He was extremely kind and humble, never mentioning that he was the Governor (perhaps he gets tired of people only acknowledging him as such).

A few months ago I was attending Minnetonka Lutheran Church with my father. I wore my favorite hoodie, a maroon sweatshirt with “Minnesota” written on it in Hebrew. As we were walking in the parking lot, a man I didn’t recognize yelled, “What does your shirt say?” I yelled back, “Minnesota!” He followed up by asking, “What language?” I answered, “Hebrew!” After our short exchange we got in the car to go home. My dad said something to the effect of, “You know that was Al Quie.” I was shocked and surprised to learn that he went to our church. I eagerly look forward to my next unexpected run-in with Al.

My handmade engine

After two weeks and many hours of carefully building, troubleshooting, and fine tuning I got my Engine running off of compressed air. I didn’t really expect it to run at all, let alone so fast and smooth so I am quite thrilled.