One-on-One With Mentor Pat Caldwell

Sept. 27, 2019

Pat Caldwell holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Arizona State University.

Over the course of his engineering and management career, he worked for companies such as Motorola, Advanced Ceramics and Raytheon, where he started as an engineer and retired as vice president of operations.

Since retirement, he’s served as a business strategy consultant for manufacturing companies, including Naat’aanii Development Corp., a Navajo-owned startup.

Now, he’s taking on a new challenge: mentoring senior undergraduate design teams for the University of Arizona Engineering Design Program.

What inspired you to become a mentor in the first place?

I believe in the power of engineering to change the world.

What is your personal experience of having a mentor? How did it help you?

My informal mentors were extremely helpful – everyone can use a sounding board.

How does being on a mentored design team help students in the professional world?

Students get a good head start on their competition. It’s close to real-world experience.

Describe an aha! moment you experienced while mentoring a design team.

As an instructor, I saw how students can achieve great things with the right discipline, work ethic and instruction.

What advice would you offer to others considering mentoring a design team?

It can be a great experience.

How do employers benefit when they hire students who have been on a mentored senior design team?

They know they are getting an employee who is ahead of the normal learning curve.

Tell us something about yourself that people might be surprised to learn.

I once considered majoring in music. I love marching bands, symphonic bands and choirs. I am also a big fan of science fiction.

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