I often wonder what led me to do certain things that have proven to be invaluable. One of them was to take typing in high school; the other was to take my first computer class in college. At the time, boys seldom took typing, and I was in the last class of Mechanical Engineers to graduate without having to take a computer class. I can remember hearing the dean emphasize this point in a meeting to discuss schedules for our senior year. I am not sure whether he was telling us that we were lucky or that we should take one anyway. All I know is that a good friend from the business school took a computer class and had a terrible time with it.
As a practical, hands-on person, I am a little surprised that I would have done anything that was not required. I looked upon many required courses in Mechanical Engineering as being too theoretical with too many theorums to prove and not enough practical applications. With the exception of a machine design class where we designed, built and tested our design, I preferred my business classes and was driven to be an engineer primarily because it seemed the best route to a good job.
After that first class, I found more and more reasons to get involved with computers. I also found that knowing how to type gave me a distinct advantage. Since then I have found that many of my peers have been forced into retirement because they lack skills that have become second nature to me. It is sad to see how a person with an obsolete education is much like a machine that was built with old technology. Although attempts are made to adapt or refurbish machines to perform like new ones, once they need to be replaced, they are simply thrown on the scrap heap.
Unfortunately, obsolete people with declining health require costly treatment and little to show for it. Sadly, while machines get melted down and recycled, people at first get paid to do nothing. Later as they add a growing number of affirmaties, they consume vast amounts of money for medicines, surgeries and constant care. Hopefully, advancements in medicine will bring increased quality of life and reduce these costs. However, people need new challenges that keep them mentally alert. Perhaps, new occupations will be found that require minimal retraining and put them back into leading more normal, interesting, healthy and productive lives.
I am happy that a series of decisions to stay informed about new innovations has helped to keep me in the game. Hopefully, this is a lesson to all to keep learning.