Strong home support helps Tom Dowse earn his Master of Science in Engineering Management
KUEC 2019 graduate Tom Dowse is no stranger to juggling work, family and college commitments. As a senior civil engineer at Burns & McDonnell and a husband to wife, and dad to daughter, Harper, Dowse credits support from home, along with strong organizational skills and some long nights for his academic success. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, 30-year-old Dowse now lives in Overland Park, Kansas, and was able to take advantage of both on-campus and online classes during his journey to his Master of Science in Engineering Management.
According to his academic adviser, Parveen , Dowse has “performed very well in the program” and his 4.0 grade point average is a sure indicator that it’s true. Read on to get some advice from the guy who has lived it.
Q: What is a typical day in your life like?
A: During the week, I manage and design aviation projects for various airports throughout the country. I work with the project team and the client to produce high-quality projects which meet the needs of the stakeholders involved. On any given day, I could be working on two to five projects located in just as many states.
Q: What makes you the happiest?
A: Successful completion of one of our designs at the end of construction when the contractor pulls the traffic control and the first aircraft uses the new facility.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Challenges. I have always been motivated by tough projects. Whether it be tough deadlines, site constraints, or funding limitations, challenges keep the fire burning inside me.
Q: Why did you choose KUEC?
A: My employer strongly suggested I choose a local program when they agreed to support my goals to complete an engineering management program. They were right. Having the local program where I could physically be in the classroom was priceless.
Q: How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?
A: KUEC is perfectly located for me. Having lived in Kansas since I moved here from Nebraska, it was always easy to get to campus and is close to a highway. Their online functionality was invaluable when I was traveling for work. Their faculty and staff were always going above and beyond to make sure I was successful.
Q: How has your KUEC degree prepared you for the future?
A: Looking around within my company at some of the leaders who excel, there are several similarities between them. One similarity is several of them have the MS EMGT degree. This degree has provided us the tools and relationships necessary to lead teams successfully.
Q: What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?
A: The most difficult part was working full-time and earning this degree at night while having a family. My family made a lot of sacrifices when I was at KUEC earning this degree instead of being home with them. We worked together and scheduled certain blocks of time throughout the week where I could be at the office or on campus completing my coursework.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: Completing the MS EMGT program with a 4.0. It may have taken me five years with the semesters I took off to travel for work and take the professional engineering exam, but that 4.0 made it all worth it.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?
A: Walking across the stage in Lawrence with my family cheering me on. It was amazing to be able to hold my daughter while celebrating that achievement.
Q: What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
A: I plan to keep transitioning into project management. The skills I have learned at KUEC have started the transition for me and it is up to me to keep honing these skills to achieve my goals.
Q: What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s or a master’s?
A: Stick with it. There will be countless hurdles along the way. If you are working full time while earning a degree, take it slow. Don’t overload yourself with too many classes at once. If you have a career which requires traveling, make sure you so you can watch the class online or the recorded version later. Don’t fall behind and always look for ways to work ahead so when a hurdle comes your way, you can clear it without difficulty.