When speaking with this individual, it does not take long for one to realize that we are, in fact, the lucky ones. With over 57 years of engineering experience at established institutions such as NASA and Boeing, Mr. Dan Lucky has rich stories about everything from helicopter manufacturing to working with some of the world’s first computers. Mr. Lucky visited Blair Academy to share those experiences on November 30 at 7 p.m. Watch his presentation now:
“It was a complete accident,” starts Mr. Lucky, when asked about whether or not he knew in high school what he would be doing for the rest of his life.
He was a Penn State junior when a representative from global aerospace giant Boeing visited to interview potential recruits. “I was in engineering school back then, and Boeing came around. We started talking and they asked if I would be able to do night shifts. I asked, ‘What would I do?’ They said, ‘Night shifts in electrical engineering. You’ll be paid a base salary of $112.50 per week and $11.25 extra for a night shift bonus.’ [I realized that] I’d be making more money than both of my parents combined. Being an immigrant with parents who escaped from Russia, I quickly said, ‘Heck, yes!’”
Lucky for him, what started out as a night shift quickly turned into a full-time position. By 1967, Mr. Lucky had advanced to working with computers and focusing on “telemetry data,” a rare skill at that time, and NASA quickly recruited him later that year. At NASA, Mr. Lucky would go on to work on “Project Apollo,” the third U.S. human spaceflight program, which ran from 1967 through 1972.
NASA remained the center of Mr. Lucky’s work universe for two more years before he turned to engineering on digital equipment for corporations such as Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and Hewlett-Packard. Today, Mr. Lucky supports customer's environments with Red Hat, Amazon Cloud and Salesforce, all leaders in the cloud computing industry.
When asked for his advice to young students at Blair, Mr. Lucky reiterates one point: Be concerned not about today, but about tomorrow.
“What you are doing today is a practice run for your next event in life,” says Mr. Lucky. “I didn’t know what I was going to be doing at Boeing when they first asked me to take on the night shift, but I learned how to do things as I experienced them. When I speak to groups, I explain and go through each process to tell people not to get over concerned today. Focus and be excited about what will come tomorrow.”
History of Skeptics
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.
The program, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial.
For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.