Growing up, I can remember always having a big, green plastic dog bank standing in the corner of my bedroom. In black felt-tip marker my mother had written on it the word "college." For years my extra change went into that doggy. Of course, by the time it came to actually tallying up the money and applying it to my education, the total collected was paltry compared to what was required (the cost of a formal education being fodder for my grist mill in a later post, perhaps). However, the programming had taken root. I was determined to go to college and become a success (at the time I had the two indubitably connected).
At the dinner table one evening my parents laid it out for me. They were proud of me and my good grades in high school, and they wanted to encourage me to go to college. They would help me all they could, but they really didn't have the money available to facilitate me going out of state or to anywhere fancy. They suggested I look around town, and if I could find something, I was welcome to keep living with them.
Growing up in Flint, Michigan doesn't necessarily put one in the proximity to the world's top universities. But there was one that, to me at least, was world class: GMI Engineering & Management Institute (today's Kettering University). I knew it was world class because the neighbor kid had gone there and he was rich as a result. After all, he had his own S10 pickup truck and a brand new wind surfer.
So I made a ten minute visit there with my father. It was the only school I visited and the only one to which I applied. The program was attractive to a kid like me without any finances because it offered a co-op experience in which every other twelve weeks were spent in the workplace somewhere out in actual industry. In those days there were still car plants all over the Flint area, so this arrangement worked out great. I could go to work and earn money to pay for school, all the while living at home and saving a bundle.
I received hard-core, intense, and thorough technical training at GMI, and obtained my Bachelor's of Science in Mechanical Engineering. I learned that I could work hard and succeed as a result. I learned how to study and fell in love with learning. I also made friendships and connections which are still with me today. The most significant turned out to be a young man whom I met on the first day of an orientation at our co-op employer's office in May of 1985: Orrin Woodward. The fact that we would someday become friends, business partners, and co-authors was in no way apparent in those early days.
Recently, Orrin Woodward and I were honored by the Kettering University Alumni Association and jointly given the Entrepreneurial Achievement Award. For this we are greatly appreciative. It has brought back many fond memories which have receded into the past way too quickly. I will forever be grateful for the experiences and knowledge I gained during those years. To the folks at Kettering University I offer a hearty thank you. As to my mother and that green dog, well, I suppose a thanks is also in order!