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My Autobiography
by Donald R. Dodge

The Summer of 1949 was a sad time in my life. I had just graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, PA. with High Honors in the College preparatory course. However, I had insufficient funds to enter college that Fall. I needed money.

To earn some, I hired on with a team of traveling salesmen who were working the mid-western college campuses to sell magazines. The sales experience was good for me. I worked hard and learned a lot about the goodness of the common people. When December, 1949 rolled around, I found that I had enough for my first semester's tuition at the University of Pittsburgh. I took a chance and applied for acceptance.

My application was approved, and I started my freshman year in January 1950, in Pitt's School of Engineering. That first semester, I worked at various odd jobs at night and on weekends to earn enough money to pay college expenses.
Homework was done in the wee hours of the morning, after I got home from work. Many were the times that first semester that my wee hours homework sessions extended until I had to catch the bus for school and forego any meaningful sleep. Times were tough, but my passion for an engineering degree overcame everything. I passed all my freshmen engineering courses with decent grades.

The summer of 1950 was wonderful for me. I applied for and received a full time job with The American Bridge Company to work on the Gateway Center Project, the first building complex built during the City of Pittsburgh's first renaissance. I worked hard all that summer as a structural iron worker, mostly at 20 stories in the sky. My mother worried that the job was too dangerous, and that I would be injured. I told her that for the two dollars an hour they were paying me I would have climbed the outside of the buildings without a parachute.

Near the end of summer, I received a Godsend. Pennsylvania State Senator Joseph Barr called me to his office. He said he had received word from an anonymous friend of his that I was a boy worthy of financial help to finish college. After reviewing my high school awards and first semester grades at Pitt, Senator Barr granted me a 4 year state senatorial scholarship. I could have kissed the man. The state scholarship was funded sufficiently to pay most of my tuition through four years of college. That fall, Pitt gave me a merit scholarship that was sufficient to pay the rest of my tuition. With these tuition windfalls, and the income from continuing after school work in the steel mills and on construction jobs , I was able to meet all my college expenses.

Four years passed quickly and I graduated in 1954 as the Outstanding Senior of my Engineering class. Then, I was drafted into the U.S. Army and was trained for the Army Security Agency in Japan. That was a great experience in a foreign land; one that I will always cherish. We were all young patriots who would do anything, and go anywhere for our beloved country.

After discharge from the Army in 1956, I spent some time with a major oil company. However, I soon found that I wanted to pursue mechanical design engineering rather than the process engineering aspects of the oil fields. Accordingly, I applied for work as a valve design engineer with Westinghouse's Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin, PA. I was hired the same day I applied based, solely, on my college grade transcript. It was a match made in heaven. I spent over 37 years with Westinghouse as a design engineer and Engineering Manager involved in Admiral Rickover's Naval Nuclear Valve Program.

I am now retired and able to reflect on my past life. I still cherish the fact that I earned my education on merit. I've tried to pass on my life's lessons to my children. I'm convinced that a good life can be achieved if a person loves and trusts God, puts forth honest effort, has a good mind, the right attitude, and ....... receives a little help along the way from good people.

Truthfully yours, Donald R. Dodge

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