A portion of Patrick's winning essay:
The idea to pursue a degree in engineering came to me while I was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. My job presented many technical and mechanical problems that often times required an on-the-spot solution, and I found that I loved the challenge of solving problems. I now feel that engineering is something that I could do great in.
While in the Air Force, I worked on Aerospace Ground Support Equipment. This consisted of remote power generators, air conditioning systems, pneumatic compressors, hydraulic systems, nitrogen purification systems, maintenance platforms and various other pieces of equipment that were used to provide power to aircraft during maintenance on the ground. My primary job as a technician involved routine inspections and maintenance of these numerous systems. I also had to go out and fix a unit if it failed to perform while on the Flight Line, which meant on-the-spot solutions with people standing around waiting to get their job on the aircraft completed. I had to attend a vigorous six-month technical training program upon completion of Basic Training, which introduced the main principles of electricity, generation, circuits, air conditioning, hydraulic systems, troubleshooting and many more. I found that it just made sense to me, and I graduated from there at the top of my class. This, along with over five years of hands on experience, opened a whole new world of mechanical systems and applications.
I loved my job and loved the experience I had while in the military; however, upon completing my enlistment, I found that experience alone couldn't land a person a good job. Everywhere I looked, minimum requirements of a B.A. shut the doors in my face. I couldn't even apply to the jobs that I felt my experience and knowledge warranted. So, with that eye-opening revelation, I decided to go to college in order to obtain my B.A. in Mechanical Engineering, which combined with my experience in the Air Force, should open a lot of those doors once closed to me.
I don't want to simply be a technician for the rest of my life. I want to help create solutions, expound on ideas for new equipment and be involved in the mechanical process at the very beginning of a project. A college education, with my experience and the confidence the military fostered, would be the winning ticket to a better life for me and for the people who may come to rely on me for solutions to their problems.