Mr. Don Simpson, P.E., Class of 1979
Don Simpson, a 1979 electrical engineering graduate of McNeese and a member of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology's Industrial Advisory Board, has worked with the semiconductor group at Texas Instruments for almost 30 years and is amazed at the changes in the technology and engineering industries over the past three decades.
After working at TI for almost 30 years, I think the technological advancements have far outweighed what I expected. I am happy to say I have been a part of this historic evolution.
Simpson said he has always been interested in how things worked and how they were made. This along with the fact that I could see we were on the threshold of some interesting changes in technology and engineering was the reason that an engineering degree was the right degree for me.
He entered McNeese in the fall of 1972 and took advantage of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology's cooperative education program, where he alternated semesters as a full-time student and a full-time worker in the area industries for 21 months, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in the fall of 1979.
The co-op program at McNeese was an excellent experience, said Simpson. It called for some creative class scheduling, but overall the program provided valuable hands-on experience.
Simpson said he has held numerous jobs at Texas Instruments. I started as a product engineer working with new and standard products and then became a customer/applications engineer and manager responsible for new product design and customer support, he said. This job allowed me to work with designers of computers, down-hole, space shuttle and anything in between.
Other jobs included characterization engineering lab manager, test engineering manager, test floor engineering manager, test hardware development manager, an IC packaging engineer and now the IC test equipment development engineer for TI. He has also worked on the development teams of the two newest packaging technologies as the test and post test expert.
All of these jobs gave me a unique understanding of the IC processes from development of a new product concept and the manufacturing process to the product release and continuous product support, Simpson said.
Currently, he is the TI expert for test process, test equipment development and enhancing test quality. In addition, I am a lecturer for TI's product engineering training program and an engineering TI mentor.
Simpson said his career at TI has required knowledge in both electrical and mechanical engineering. In my nearly 30 years with Texas Instruments, I have noticed that most engineering school graduates excelled in their chosen fields of study because the majority of these schools are designed for students to concentrate in one discipline.
McNeese required that its students have an understanding of all its disciplines: chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, explained Simpson. My career and ability to work in an effective manner with multi-discipline teams would not have been possible without the multi-discipline education that McNeese offered.
A registered professional engineer, Simpson is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a mentor in the MentorNet national mentoring of engineering students program and actively involved with an organization call BEST, or Boosting Engineering Science in Technology, since its inception 15 years ago. The BEST organization promotes engineering, science and technology in junior high and high schools and sponsors a robotic game competition each year.
Simpson said he urges today's students to be creative in what they've learned and to apply that information or even advance that knowledge so it can be applied to other projects. He said teamwork is also a vital factor in today's world and that the ability to make the trade-off of designing something totally new or utilizing the existing technology is another important lesson for students today. Sometimes it is better not to create a totally new wheel when the existing wheel will work with some minor changes.
Simpson said he enjoyed his college days at McNeese. I remember the engineering crawfish boils, the friendships and the everyday interactions with classmates and professors.
One of his favorite stories is about Dr. Howard S. Minn, who taught electrical engineering. One semester we had Dr. Minn for both an 8 a.m. Monday/Wednesday/Friday class and an 8 a.m. Tuesday/Thursday class. About two-thirds through the semester we walked into our Thursday class and waited and waited for Dr. Minn. After waiting for 20 minutes we (the class) decided he was not going to make it. We were concerned since no one told us he would not be in class. I decided to go back to the student center to get another cup of coffee and look through the material for the next class. About 8:45 a.m. Dr. Minn saw me and walked over to me and asked why no one showed up for class. I told him we were in class waiting for him and he said he was in class waiting for us. I asked Dr. Minn what classroom and he said our Monday/Wednesday/Friday classroom. I said, Dr. Minn, today is Thursday.
As an MSU engineering alumnus, Simpson is proud of his alma mater. He said he benefited from the smaller classes at McNeese because they offered him more one-on-one time with his professors and allowed him to build long lasting friendships with every student in his classes.