Today, math and science skills equate jobs, wealth and freedom — and this is where you step in.
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Today, math and science skills equate jobs, wealth and freedom — and this is where you step in.

Dear Young Men and Women of America,

I know you have a lot on your mind, plenty of things vie for your attention, and you likely don't have much interest in the musings of an old guy, but please allow me to take just a couple minutes of your time with a plea and a bit of advice.

As you well know by now, my generation has made quite an economic mess of things and we're leaving you with some unresolved problems. Today, math and science skills equate jobs, wealth and freedom — and this is where you step in. Though not glamorous or romantic, we need you to excel in math, science and computer skills to be the next generation of engineers. If you can do it, I can guarantee a life of relative comfort and opportunity, as there's already a shortage of engineers of all types and these jobs are going to pay handsomely.

Do you gain a certain comfort in the structure and laws of numbers, in the ideas and theorems of geometry and algebra? If so, you may have a bright future designing bridges, creating electrical circuits or formulating chemicals. America direly needs to keep these valuable jobs here.

If maybe this all seems a little dull, maybe you ought consider audio engineering, where sometimes a bit of show biz gets thrown into the mix. You'll still need those math and science skills (if you truly know your stuff, you'll need 'em big-time), but computer proficiency, musical knowledge and people skills play major roles, too. Audio engineering is rewarding work for both sides of the brain; you get all the order, logic and lawfulness of science, plus all the mystery, chaos and wonder of artistic expression, teamwork and creation. Let me tell you: making records is fun! The sense of accomplishment and release after successfully recording a large band, with everybody pulling together in so many divergent ways, to create something brand new and entertaining ... I can't believe they pay you for this!

Since a good chunk of you are growing up with audio recording as an integral part of even your mobile phone, you may seriously ask, "But is this really a job, or just a hobby?" Well, it is a hobby that everybody has free access to, but if you can learn the science behind those waveforms on the screen, there is a job in it. Straight up, knowledge is power.

Just think of the many interesting and fun options in audio engineering ... making records (all about detail and creativity), mixing FOH for live shows (the thrill of the audience and the surge of volume), mixing monitors for the artists at those shows (the excitement of getting up close and personal with the stars), live concert recording (all the detail of the studio with all the risk of live performance), mixing audio for live TV (whether the local news or major league sports, it's all a rush), creating audio for all forms of multimedia (imagine the unlimited possibilities) or being part of the huge audio teams that put together the sound of major motion pictures.

So give yourself a chance with those math and science classes, develop your technical skills and — if it's working for you — stick with it and pursue an education in engineering — electrical or audio. You'll find an interesting, dynamic and challenging career ahead of you. You'll be doing your part to pay off our debts and help get things back on track. I'm terribly sorry that all I can leave you are my generation's messes and these words of advice.

Rob Tavaglione's economics/business management double major didn't keep him from the world of audio engineering.