April 06, 2018
Motorcycles, makers, master’s programs
“I refer to myself as a gearhead,” Dave Landis said about his passion for cars and motorcycles.
Automobiles are a mirror for how deeply engineering intertwines with his life. In his younger days, he would take apart mechanisms and electronics to understand them and appreciate their designs. Often in high school, he would fix up neglected cars. Then upon graduating from college, he bought his first motorcycle and traveled cross-country. This savvy for tinkering and technology led him toward study in electrical engineering as an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University.
Landis recalls that his undergraduate studies were hands-on and pragmatic, thinking fondly of the normalcy of iterating projects in the lab and building and testing them. This nurtured a culture of making and makers. Over the years, however, the mood waxed and waned, Landis says. He holds a unique perspective on this culture at CMU, having participated in it years ago and then having returned to it 40 years later in its modern form.
Once, while Landis listened to a talk given by former University President Jared Cohon in Roberts Engineering Hall, the power failed. Cohon mused on how, 30 years earlier, a dozen students would immediately jump up to run to the power system to identify and repair the failure.