BILL BROWN, PE
What drew you to becoming an engineer?
I am what some may call an ‘accidental’ engineer. When I applied to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo I wanted to be an architect. There was a mishap with my transcripts and by the time everything was figured out the architecture program was closed. That meant I had to pick a new major. Environmental engineering was open and I thought it sounded interesting. I picked that with the intent to move in to the architecture program at the next quarter. I ended up loving it and it was the right fit for me.
What’s your favorite project?
I have been fortunate to work on some pretty amazing projects but my favorite is a small remodel of a cath angio lab within Stanford Hospital. It was one of those quick projects that you are in one month and out the next, nothing fancy. Once the project was complete I was invited by the facility manager to tour the lab. During my tour a patient was having a procedure done in the lab. It was in that moment I realized the social responsibility we have as engineers on our projects.
What would you tell your younger engineering self to make his life easier today?
The biggest piece of advice I would give my younger self would be to pay attention to your English, English Literature & History classes throughout high school and college. You can be the best at your job technically but if you can’t communicate your ideas to the non-engineer then you are not going anywhere.
What do you do when you aren’t engineering?
Right now, my number one thing is re-building my home. I am a DIY weekender – I could probably give Chip Gaines a run for his money. I also write narrative non-fiction. My first formal publication, about the sinking of a sailing ship in San Francisco Bay, was finished 2 years ago. It even has a State Library call number.
Years of experience: 38 years
Education: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Office: San Jose