Joseph Carson

BS '76, mechanical engineering

Occupation: Engineer
Current city/state/country of residence: Knoxville, TN
Current Community activities: Long-time member of several engineering professional societies with local chapters, member of a faith community.

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I grew up in Brooklyn and won a State Regents Scholarship. It only applied to schools in NY State, I wanted to study engineering and I wanted to play basketball in a school such as UR.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I entered UR wanting to be an engineer; I decided on mechanical engineering as a sophomore.

What resources did you use on campus that you would recommend current students use?

I’m a reader, always have been. At UR, I studied engineering, but read widely on my own. I presume UR students can download audible versions of many books for free from UR library. Turn the music off, limit the endless distraction of social media and games, and stretch your mind. Your generation will determine whether our civilization reaches year 2100 and beyond more or less intact. Prepare yourself to be able to “move the needle” in the positive direction. 

What clubs or activities were you involved in at the University?

I played on the basketball team for a season, I was/am a DKE, I played intramurals, belong to the student chapter of ASME, the mechanical engineering society, was part of Newman Community. I had an NROTC scholarship my final 2 years

What previous internships/research/job experience have you had that has helped you get your current job or grad school?

My career has been in nuclear engineering and technology. I had an NRTOC scholarship, then served on submarines for 6 years, then worked as a contract engineer at new construction nuclear power plants and have been an engineer in the Department of Energy for most of my career.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

None come to mind, I am pretty self-directed and self-contained.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take this path?

Served in Navy.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I have become, by dint of over two decades of sacrifice, risk, loss and exertion  in defending and upholding my profession of engineering and its code of ethics, the “merit system principles” of federal civil service and the public health and safety, an influential member of mankind’s largest and most global profession of engineering. I hope to move the needle in the positive direction for the chances of the survival of our unprecedented global civilization, which is UTTERLY dependent on its engineered underpinnings.  There are significant and persistent deficiencies in scope and implementation of engineering ethics, that don’t bode well for civilization addressing its unprecedented collective challenges.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Work ethic. Persistence. Learn from setbacks and have the resilience to keep moving. Determine what you are willing to suffer and sacrifice – your professional standing and economic security, if not life and liberty – to defend and uphold related to your privileged lives.

 Where would you like to be in five years?

There are significant and persistent deficiencies in scope and implementation of engineering ethics, I hope to leave the profession better than I found it, and the stakes for civilization are not insignificant, as least in my opinion.

 How you are still connected with the University?

I am asked to give money about every other month! 

What is your fondest memory of the University?

I have many fond memories. I won a bunch of lottery tickets in the circumstances of my life, including UR.

What advice do you have for current students?

Accept that, like it or not, our unprecedented – and  threatened – civilization is utterly dependent on its engineered underpinning and what your generation will/will not do – like it or not – will likely determine whether civilization sustains to year 2100 and beyond.  Put away all the self-indulgent distractions and get on with preparing yourselves to contribute to the “salvation of the world” i.e. sustaining a desirable civilization in some sphere of influence.

Would you be willing to have students contact you for career information via email?

Sure, students would do well to do lots of informational interviewing in helping them make their choices.