On the Job with Kevin White

Kevin White is the department chair of the Civil Engineering Technology Department at Albany Technical College.

Kevin White is the department chair of the Civil Engineering Technology Department at Albany Technical College.

ALBANY, Ga.Kevin White was enjoying a rewarding career in the engineering field, when a job offer for his wife led him to a career-changing decision.

His wife, also an engineer, had a great opportunity with Georgia Power Co. to move to Southwest Georgia. The move, White said, convinced him to make a career change to the classroom that he had already been contemplating.

When the White family moved from north Georgia, Kevin decided to take a position with Albany Technical College, heading the new Civil Engineering Technology Department.

“Everything fell into place,” White said. “My wife had a good promotion and I had a great opportunity to come here. It’s worked out well for both of us.”

White recently participated in a question-and-answer session with Danny Carter.

Q. What was your first job?

A. My first job was with McDonalds, cooking hamburgers. In about 2002, I went to work for a design engineering company and our biggest client was McDonalds. So I went from cooking hamburgers for McDonalds to being a consultant for the corporation.

Q. What prompted your interest in engineering?

A. My biggest influence was television shows like Mr. Wizard or the very techie shows like Knight Rider. My father was a big Star Trek fan, so I had been geared for those kinds of things. My father was an accountant who worked with computers, so at a young age I was programming basic language.


NAME: Kevin White

AGE: 49

POSITION: Department chair, instructor, Civil Engineering Technology Department, Albany Technical College.

EDUCATION: White received a bachelor’s degree

in agricultural engineering from the University of Georgia and a masters in business administration from the Terry School of Business at UGA.

FAMILY: Kevin and his wife, Susan, have one daughter, Madeline, 7, and a son, Sawyer, 3. Susan is an engineering supervisor for Georgia Power Co. The family resides in Americus.

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW: White is a golfer and keeps a collection of prize golf balls in his office from some of the top golf venues in the world. When asked how much he gets to play, White said, “Not as much since I have moved here.”

BACKGROUND: White was born in Birmingham, Ala., but moved to Macon when he was 8 and in the eighth grade. He attended Mount de Sales High School, a Catholic school with a long history of sports and academic success in both the private

and public divisions in Georgia. He then attended Middle Georgia College in Cochran where he continued his football career. White then moved to the University of Georgia to concentrate on earning an engineering degree.

Q. What was the biggest adjustment you made from private engineering firms to education?

A. In engineering firms, I was delegating work. There was a lot of work coming in and I had a team of engineers. I would see who was the best fit for a project and whatever was left I would tackle. Here, there is not a whole lot of delegating. We handle instruction, recruiting, administrative.

Q. What has been your biggest surprise about teaching?

A. I think people underestimate the energy it takes to get up and teach for six hours in front of students. The first few months, I was extremely exhausted. But you exercise and eat right and you get used to it. You have to be prepared. I used to coach basketball, and I learned that if you do not have a plan for the entire time, kids will be hanging from the rafters. You have to plan your whole time or you will lose them.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. Everybody says parents and family, and my parents did play a big role in my life. And not just my parents, but my in-laws as well. I also had the privilege of having good teachers at Georgia and Middle Georgia and I worked for some really good engineers.

Q. What is your favorite

work-related gadget?

A. I love gadgets. My favorite instrument we use is the robot. We have a robotic station that teaches you to survey. In the old days, you’d have a rod man holding the rod and an instrument man. Now you need just one person. There is some really high tech surveying equipment here. When our students first come in, we make them use the old stuff first so they understand the fundamentals, but they can’t wait to get on the GPS.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. We always go to the beach, along with my in-laws. It’s always a fun thing to do. We rent a beach house in different locations. When I was younger, at Christmas we would go to my great-grandmother’s house in Alabama. We grew up in the city so going out in the country was a new experience to us, and was always fun. In my house, football has always been a tradition. We have season tickets to Georgia and go to as many football games as we can. We used to go to all of them, but that was BK, or before kids.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. I don’t read typical books. My wife calls them nerd books. The last book I read was “Seven Habits of Effective People” and “Calculus Diaries.” I am about to start one written by a MIT professor called “The Love of Physics.” My wife is a fiction reader, and I am totally opposite. I like to read something I can learn from and look for catchy quotes to use in the classroom. For example, one quote from my last book was to “begin with the end in mind.” I tell my students this and it helps in problem solving.

Q. What is your morning routine?

A. I try to get up by 6. During the school year, I get up, get ready, help the kids get ready and usually take my daughter to the bus stop and take my son to day care. Then I bring myself here (from Americus) and am here by 7:45. I used to read Family Circus in the comics section when I was growing up, and never really understood that title until I had kids.

Q. What famous person would you like to meet, and Why?

A. Warren Buffett. I am a big fan of his and would love to get his investment secrets.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Pretty much anything outdoors. I just ran the Peachtree Road Race for the first time. My time was one hour, seven minutes and 43 seconds. I was pretty proud of myself. I plan to do it again. It was fun. I work out and try to keep in shape.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. They were all really good, but one obviously would look at the engineering courses. It would surprise a lot of people when I pick psychology. I see a lot of people who look good on paper, but they lack the skills of working with other people and cannot understand different personalities and what motivates different people.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. It would be hard to pick something not engineering. When I was in school I had a job in a hospital central supply department, and my mother was a nurse. I might have done something in medicine, perhaps a nurse or doctor.

Q. Finish this thought; “on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself…

A. I hope whatever it is it’s not something I am doing for the first time. Many people say travel, but I hope we get the opportunity to travel a great deal before then. I probably would say just enjoying the kids as they get older and spending time with my wife.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. You’ll find all kinds, but a lot of U2, ’80s music. If you get in the car with me, I’m listening to the 80s station. I like Cold Play, my newest favorite, and Van Halen. Also, a little bit of country, but not much.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. Unlike most areas of study, the basic fundamentals do not change. We still talk about Newton, Einstein, Galileo, Tesla and still draw on the basic fundamentals. The new stuff is coming from new types of construction and innovative ways to control things like flood control. If you look at the 25 greatest engineering achievements, most of them have been around for a while — things like the Great Wall of China, the Panama Canal, Hoover Dam. The biggest change is efficiencies.