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Engineer Like a Champion Today!

In the movie “Rudy” the Notre Dame football team slaps a sign on the way out of the locker room for good karma.  The sign says “Play like a Champion Today”.  It is very motivating, especially when Rudy dresses for his one and only game.

At the 2016 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Transmission & Distribution Conference in Dallas, the opening day speaker was former Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith.  His address to the 14,000 utility industry professionals and 900 exhibitors challenged us to consider that the factors that led to his success in football can also apply to success in our industry.

Emmitt was too small and too slow his entire playing career, yet he ended up the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and is enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Oh, and for the younger generation who did not see him play football, he also was a champion of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS).  In fact, he says more people recognize him as the DWTS champion than as a football player.

What factors did he credit to his success, not only in his football career, his DWTS win and also his successful post-football business career?

  • Listen to outstanding mentors
  • It is always “we” and not “I” – he accomplished nothing without his teammates
  • Keep a positive attitude, regardless of the challenges
  • Be willing to pay the price
  • Be willing to put in the time
  • Be curious, and ask questions

Not a bad list, don’t you agree? These are relevant characteristics for professional utility engineers to emulate.  Even though most days our efforts are not found on an athletic field, if we perform with these same disciplines, we can expect similar, successful results.

Are these athletic practices applicable to “engineering like a champion”?   What other factors might be missing from this list?

About the author

Marlon is our account executive in the Power market. He has more than 35 years of experience with all aspects of planning, design and construction of 12.5 kV-345 kV distribution and transmission systems, including right-of-way, design, regulatory coordination, public information meetings, public testimony and project management. With an extensive background in power transmission and distribution, Marlon brings a wide variety of knowledge in discussing the energy industry and the issues it faces. From education of future engineers to critical infrastructure analysis, he offers a unique perspective on the industry and where it's headed.