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Career Conference Speaker Spencer Hicks ’09 Talks Engineering To Sophomores

On Wednesday, January 24, 2024, Spencer Hicks ’09 discussed his career as an engineer with Catholic Central sophomores as part of the school’s Career Conference speaker series.  

The Catholic Central Career Conference series is a program that connects current students with alumni in specific careers. Speakers share valuable insights about their profession and recommendations for how students can be successful in the role.  

Hicks graduated from Cornell in 2013 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Detroit Mercy in 2018 with a M.S. in Product Development. He currently works as a Mechanical Systems Engineer and Technical Specialist for Ford Motor Company where he focuses on campaigning prevention and recalls. He described his position as a “second set of eyes” to help prevent Ford Recalls. He is also Catholic Central’s Head Ski Coach.  

During his presentation, Hicks discussed what an engineer does, the different types of engineering fields, how to become one, and why students should pick this as their career choice. 

 “Almost everything you encounter today has been through the hands of an engineer. It goes beyond planes, cars, and laptops. Engineers are responsible for the seats you’re sitting on, toys, sporting equipment, and more,” he stated. 

“Your job as an engineer is to find the best solution. You won’t be sitting by yourself alone at a desk. You’ll be working in teams. Engineers are often the master multitaskers in a company,” he explained. 

Hicks covered the types of engineering fields in detail, recommending that students think carefully about aerospace, biomedical, environment, space science, or any other very specific undergraduate program as it may limit your opportunities.  

He joked, “Mechanical engineers are the coolest ones. Most of the things you touch and feel goes through a mechanical engineer.” He also discussed the future outlooks of upcoming fields, stating that students shouldn’t specify their degrees too tightly unless this is what they are sure they want to do.  

Hicks said students considering going into engineering as a career are already in the best starting position possible.  

“You’re at the best high school in the world. Catholic Central has done more to prepare me for my professional life than anything else. Thank your parents for sending you here. This is the best thing they could have done for you. Your friends at other schools down the street don’t have the opportunities you have here, so take advantage of them. Take an extra math class and look at accredited colleges,” he said.  

Hicks discussed the importance of developing your skills as an engineer. He stated that the best engineers have: 

  • A strong technical foundation 
  • Very strong communication skills 
  • The ability to manage their time and prioritize work 
  • The ability to manage work-related stress and high intensity work environments 

“What makes an engineer successful is their communication skills. If you understand the most complicated process but you can’t explain it, you won’t be effective at your job. You need to break things down in a way people can understand.”  

Hicks wrapped up by encouraging students to consider engineering as their career. “An engineering degree opens a lot of doors. The job outlook is always good. Younger engineers are always needed to replace the retiring professionals,” he stated.  

He further elaborated on the benefits of becoming an engineer by stating that there are no advanced degrees required, some positions allow you to work remotely, an engineering degree can take you as far as you want, and companies need a lot of young talent. 

Students with engineering questions can email Mr. Hicks at shamrockskiing@catholiccentral.net.  

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