An Interview With...
Kevin M. Caruso
When you were a small boy, what did you dream you would grow up to become? When did you first become interested in engineering?
I wanted to become an electrical engineer or airline pilot. I first became interested in engineering in grammar school---6th grade. That's when I also became fascinated with space exploration and the planets.
What does an electrical engineer do?
Electrical engineers do a great variety of things---this depends upon what their special interests are. I began my career designing digital printed circuit boards for test equipment. This test equipment was used to check the proper operation of the electronic instruments which protect our American military airplanes during flight---the equipment which helps prevent their being shot down during flight. Very cool stuff!
I now help many companies design electronic control panels and keypads for equipment and machines like: The exercise equipment at your health clubs and YMCA's, the control panels in locomotives which pull commuter trains and freight trains, delicate oxygen saturation monitors for infants, and medical equipment which helps patients breathe.
What was your academic path towards employment as an electrical engineer and what types of industries use electrical engineers?
I have a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois in Electrical Engineering and much more training after school was completed. Almost any industry you can imagine employ electrical engineers: medical electronics, space exploration, city planning, electronic design of all kinds---anything which operates on electricity or by battery was designed with the help of an electrical engineer.
What is the difference between an electrical engineer and other types of engineers?
work of many engineering fields always overlap.
Other important engineering fields include:
What were your favorite subjects in elementary and/or high school?
I loved math and science in grammar school, and chemistry and physics in high school. I was fascinated to learn how things work and why they work. I loved to take apart equipment---even if it didn't go back together again, I still learned something.
What activities did you like to do as a child?
Lego's were a favorite---and way before electronics were even around, blocks. Puzzles were also great. And taking equipment apart---old TV, radio, motors, toys, etc.
When did your passion for space exploration begin?
One winter evening in 6th grade my friend Marc invited me over for dinner---we went outside after dinner and looked through his telescope at a "star"---it turned out to be planet Jupiter. He then showed me an 8' by 10' color photo of planet Jupiter which NASA had sent to him for free. I was hooked on space and have been fascinated with our planetary and manned space missions ever since.
I created aviation and space programs for students for the Park Districts, and after many years of teaching them part time, applied to NASA for their Solar System Ambassador Program, and was chosen as one of 7 people to host space programs for the people of Illinois.
Why did you want to write about the moon?
I selected the Moon because I grew up fascinated with the Apollo Astronauts walking on the Moon. I've written just 1 book so far: Back To The Moon---a 282-page full color middle school level book which picks up where Apollo 17 left off---way back in December 1972. It moves through the present space missions and on to a future lunar base. Very cool project. It took 5 years to complete---4 years of research and writing and 1 year to take all of my computer notes and create a full color book.
What is the process one must go through to get a book published? Once published, how did you go about selling your book?
My book was self-published. That means I paid the entire expense of converting my notesand photos into a book format, and then paid a printer to print the book and a bindery to bind it into a finished product---very expensive, but well worth it! I printed just 200 copies initially and each one has a serial number---limited first autographed edition. The next batch will be a printing of 500-10,000 books. At this volume, the per book price will drop so that bookstores will then be interested in carrying it.
When did you first become interested in flying? Do you fly often?
I am a licensed Private Pilot (that means I fly little 2 and 4 seat aircraft) for pleasure and in nice weather only. I love it. I used to watch the airliners fly over my house in Chicago every 3-4 minutes. I signed up for an aviation ground school in college---kids can do this in 8th grade if they want---passed a written test, and then began flying lessons. I was 16 when I earned my license...and have loved flying ever since.
Flying little planes is fun, and safe. Yes Safe. Like, driving, it takes a responsible individual to fly a plane. Unlike driving, there is a 3rd dimension to work with---and it's wonderful.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
Yes, here are a few favorite quotes from my book Back to the Moon:
"People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them!"
~ George Bernard Shaw
"Always use the word 'impossible' with the greatest caution."
~ Wernher von Braun
"If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
~ General George S. Patton Jr.
"There ain't no rules around here. We're trying to accomplish something."
~ Thomas A. Edison
What words of advice do you have for students interested in pursuing a career as an electrical engineer, a pilot or anything else they might be interested in doing?
Go to school and stay there until you discover a field which interest you. Then study that with all of your heart and become excellent at it.
Your job in life is to find out what subjects interest you most. When you find those subjects, study them---this will be fun, not work, because you like or love the subject. By learning more each day you'll become an expert in your specialty. Then find or CREATE a job which matches your interests and pour your entire heart into being the best---and you know what? You'll love each new day and love what you do and it won't be work at all.
Follow the dreams in your heart until they become real!
You are a special person who is here to do great things in this life. Your job is to find out what those great things are and do them using your unique talents and gifts.
God Bless You!
- 28 October 2003
26 March 2004
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