Fluxor kicked off this week with a post about his father, and with Father’s Day coming up, I thought I’d chime in about how my parents’ careers have affected my choices. Both my parents are programmers, and so my form of teenage rebellion was to avoid learning any programming. These efforts turned out to be counter-productive in the long run, since my current work is about half programming.
When I was little, after he left the Navy, my father worked in the defense sector. When my sister and I started school, he started his own graphic software business from home. I earned my allowance by copying floppy disks and debugging. We were supposed to try and do new things with the software, and if it broke, tell him exactly what we had done that had caused the crash. I learned how to methodically trace my steps, and figure out where things went wrong, a skill I use pretty much daily.
There are also certain lessons I got as I child that were uncommon. My father taught me how to solder and use power tools. As a craft project, we would make bugs out of old/dead circuit pieces. I watched him rebuild PCs in the basement. Normal children are (hopefully) taught to say please and thank you, to be polite. We were told the importance of commenting code to be polite to your coworkers. Now that I’m older, my parents are a great resource for discussing technical problems. I recently inherited my dad’s copy of Numerical Recipes, and several old Fortran manuals.
I’ve had some wonderful, inspiring teachers, but my true engineering heros will always be my parents.