My path towards engineering excellence

Around the age of twelve–in Ames, Iowa–I sat with my father to see what work he brought home.  At the time he was working on fixing a software tool. Strange words and colors were displayed all over the screen and despite a fear of the unknown, his code seemed fascinating with its logic and pragmatic design choices.  This began my journey of investigating software engineering.

First Impressions

Fumbling about with coding tutorials and assistance from my father, I toiled through understanding computer logic while making games to occupy the time. I was also a 4-H program member during this time.  Through static exhibits–projects to present and have judged–I was able to present my computer programs and other technology-based items to see if this is truly something worth exploring. The feedback given to me propelled me forward to expand and learn more about engineering.

Changing My Ways

Around the age of seventeen, I was asked to help at my grandparents’ farm in Sanborn, Iowa.  Not having a busy schedule that year, I traveled up north. While at the farm, I finally came to the realization of the work it took to farm. My grandfather pointed out to me that the work put into the crops was paying off with being able to pay bills and aiding our neighbors. Returning home, I decided to change my entire routine and do something more productive. Unfortunately, little happened until fall that year, which was when I began my first college classes while still in high school.  While it was terrifying–considering I was transitioning from being homeschooled to attending college–it was an incredibly beneficial experience that allowed me to begin understanding more advanced studies and work hands-on with new people at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC).

A shove forward

While at DMACC, I’ve been blessed with having my physics professor–Dr. Nancy Woods–aid me with education, scholarships, and volunteer activities. Dr. Woods gave me a nudge (a shove, really) towards hosting a booth at the local STEM festival. With the help of two other students, I constructed a tub to contain ~160lbs of cornstarch to make Oobleck (non-Newtonian fluid) and demonstrate its effects.  This opportunity gave me the chance to experience working with other people within the local community and appreciate educating others.  Pleased with the festival, I decided it was time to do significantly more. Around the same time, I was convinced to join Phi Theta Kappa and attend Leadership Iowa University (LIU).  My admittance into LIU taught me what local businesses were in Iowa. It also taught me who I am as a leader. Following that, I was given the opportunity to attend an on-site NASA workshop at the NASA Glenn Research Center through the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program.  Learning from these organizations affirmed my confidence in my decision to become a software engineer with the desire to work for either NASA or a business within Iowa.

Being a part of Phi Theta Kappa has given me the opportunity to fund my college degree through their scholarships. I also applied and was honored to be accepted as a 2018 Pearson Scholar last fall.  The Pearson Scholar program has given me a chance to explore the opportunities available to me and focus purely on academics.  From volunteering at festivals to valuing hard work, I continue to extend my understanding of how to excel academically through helping my community and pursuing my Bachelor of Science Degree.  As a Pearson Scholar, I look forward with unequivocal ambition to what will happen next in my journey toward engineering excellence.

Pearson Students: What experiences or people are nudging you forward? Share by commenting below!


Brandt Damman is a sophomore attending Des Moines Area Community College studying Liberal Arts and Sciences and intends to transfer to a four-year college to study software engineering.  He is president of his local Phi Theta Kappa chapter. Brandt is passionate about volunteering locally and being an active student. Whenever there is free time, he enjoys reading and considering what chess piece to move next. Brandt is a recipient of the 2018 Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education.

Brandt is a contributor to the Pearson Students Blog. If you are a college student and interested in writing for us –  click here to pitch your idea and get started!


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