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Engineering, Entrepreneurship & Education

June 13, 2012
Austin Lyons - Columnist , Traer Star-Clipper

August 23rd, 2005 my first day of classes at Iowa State University. I had recently moved from Dysart to Ames, my hair was longer than my dad thought was necessary, and I was sharing an incredibly small dorm room with a friend from high school. At the time, all I knew about engineering was that you supposedly did a bit of math, worked 8 to 5, and made some decent money. Math and money sounded nice to me, so I chose the only engineering major I had actually heard of mechanical engineering.

Fast forward seven years. I'm now 25, my hair is shorter, and I live in Austin, TX. I spend my days working as a computer engineer for Intel Corporation and my evenings working on a technology start-up that I co-founded with friends from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Since that first day of classes in 2005 I have learned and experienced more than I ever dreamed was possible. I have changed majors, worked for Rockwell Collins, earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree, started businesses, published my research in scientific journals, and traveled internationally.

What have I learned along the way? What do I know now that I wish I knew then? How can you or your student prepare for a career in engineering or science? That's where this column comes in. The great folks at the Dysart Reporter have given me the opportunity to share my experiences and lessons learned with all of you. I look forward to discussing engineering, entrepreneurship, and education from the perspective of someone who grew up in a small town in Iowa. (My friends would argue that all towns in Iowa are small towns, so for clarification I grew up in a really small town). I hope that my writings will be of interest to everyone, especially the next generation of engineers, scientists, and/or entrepreneurs and their parents.

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Tune in next time for a story about robots and small town work ethic. If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address in future articles, please email me at



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