But thinking like an engineer is nothing new for Cliff. As a middle school student he collected broken electronics and used Nintendo parts to create his own, nearly “good as new,” functioning Nintendo entertainment system. “It was hard to find a new one in my small town, so I bought broken ones and built my own,” he says.
His interest in how things worked expanded to a passion for electrical engineering when he joined the Navy to work in the Advanced Electronic Computer Field. As a Fire Controlman, Cliff wasn’t directly fighting fires, he was an electronics technician working on weapon systems, including the systems that guide semi-active homing missiles.
Cliff decided to end his military service after six years to give back to his country in another way: as an electrical engineering student funded by the GI Bill.
He chose an online degree program because it allows him to support his family by working full time at a job that demands a lot of travel. As a field service engineer for industrial solar inverters, an online degree allows Cliff the flexibility to study on an airplane and in hotel rooms across the country.
Cliff says he initially chose ASU for his online education for practical reasons, but says he’s stayed with ASU online because of its “culture of teamwork.”
“ASU makes sure that everybody is successful and nobody is left on their own,” he says. For Cliff this support has come from faculty, staff and online student support groups. “From the application process to current weekly phone calls from an on-campus mentor, ASU has always cared about my success,” he says.
For Cliff the greatest strength of the online electrical engineering program is the clearly organized lectures. He likes the option to pause and replay complex parts of the lecture as many times as he needs to grasp the concept. He is happy to have developed good relationships with other students and professors despite being online. “I really have a lot of fun in the online groups discussions and the professors provide a lot of encouraging feedback,” he says.
Cliff is enjoying his online education so much that he’s decided to add an online minor in engineering management starting next semester.
In the future Cliff will continue his work in power systems and has already talked with companies about research positions after graduation. “Energy isn’t something that is going away and the production of usable energy is where I want to put my skills to work,” he says.
Cliff encourages engineering-minded individuals to take advantage of the online program because it allows you the flexibility to gain valuable work experience and a higher education simultaneously.
“I knew I had it in me, I just needed a door to open so I could prove I’m ready to be an engineer. This is what ASU is offering,” he says.