In high school, a passion for things that go "vroom" had Brian Earp thinking his future career could be found under the hood of an automobile. Advice from his father in the garage one day set him on the path to the St. Ambrose Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree he collected on Dec. 17
"Keep your hobby as your hobby, because the minute you start collecting a paycheck from it, then it is no longer your hobby," Earp's father said.
Because Earp has proven himself to be as adept at engineering as he was working with engines, he won't wait long to collect a paycheck in his chosen field. A hugely successful senior project for Sears Manufacturing in Davenport has earned the SAU graduate a full-time position with the firm.
Last spring, Earp and several other students were asked to create a tractor seat that would level itself on hills in order to keep the operator sitting upright.
"My team and I created a prototype which fully functioned and was designed in such a way that it could be easily manufactured," Earp said. "The design did need some further modification in order to function perfectly, but overall was a very good start."
The research and development lab at Sears Manufacturing is weighing the design's functionality and saleability. The end goal of the project has always been to create a product worthy of a patent.
The day after presenting the prototype, Earp received an offer for a summer internship with Sears Manufacturing.
"The internship was a fantastic opportunity both as a personal goal, but also as a professional stepping-stone," Earp said. "I was able to participate in the overall design and test process."
Earp returned to SAU last fall with the offer of a full-time position as a test engineer at Sear's following his December graduation. "I believe it [the position] directly relates to my success as an intern at Sears Manufacturing," Earp said. "As a test engineer I will be working on nearly every seat the company produces in some fashion."
Earp said his education in engineering at St. Ambrose helped to launch his career, particularly the experiential learning component of the senior design course.
"This course helped me to establish my name and skills with the company which led to me being picked as an intern and ultimately receiving a job offer," Earp said. "Had it not been for the course I would not have had such a great opportunity to prove my worth as an engineer to the company."