My C&E Highlights: J.T. Lawlor ‘69

IBM’s first Drexel co-op writes about how his C&E degree helped enable his success

Twelve years of Catholic school education in the city provided me with a solid foundation for life, with several practical skills and self-confidence. But sadly, the omission of Calculus left me far behind the other frosh at The Drexel Institute of Technology (DIT) as an early baby boomer. The cut-drop rate was about 30 percent in that first year, and another 30 percent or so in year two. The remaining students were committed, highly capable, and rewarded with a superior education and a degree that was nationally recognized in the top tier. For C&Es, the 20 to 22 credits per term for five years was a challenge to schedule and to carry. The 1969 class was the first University certification, which required nearly all technical and science majors to suddenly ‘load-up’ on humanities, social studies, etc.; but C&Es were able to maintain planned electives.

In the year prior to entering DIT, I was enrolled in a leading edge technical program learning the hardware and programming of mid-1960s IBM computers. With two computer languages in hand, I created the first co-op position from Drexel with IBM; and worked in NYC customer support, Poughkeepsie, NY development labs, and a Financial markets field office as a co-op. Working with engineers from Stevens, MIT, and the like, I found that my quantitative knowledge was a match, and qualitative aspects developed were superior! IBM and co-workers were enormously supportive and directive.

Like many C&E students nearing graduation, there were several interviews and outstanding job offers (well beyond my early expectations) that confirmed the ‘value of the breadth and depth’ of the content in Drexel’s curricula! That substance, and the degree itself proved time and again throughout my career to open many doors of opportunity and leadership, and underpin a large variety of challenging positions, breaking new ground and pathways throughout my life’s journey. My education at Drexel taught me not just the fundamentals for being versatile and highly competent, but from Drexel I learned what I was capable of doing and becoming!

In retrospect:
- I could not have chosen a better curriculum for my professional paths, and personal fulfillment.
- C&E’s breadth, depth, superior content and variety provided reach, confidence, and competence.
- Numerous (and varied) opportunities were made available and supported by Drexel’s education.
- Acceptance and content were enhanced for my mid-life MBA degree (PSU ‘99).
- From the outset as a co-op, the self-confidence, analytical and decision-making remained priceless.
- Compensation, recognition, advancement, leadership, mentoring, fulfillment, and so on – were all enhanced, stemming from who I am fundamentally, but enabled from my education as a C&E.
- I never felt like my degree got me started then fizzled – intellectual growth was supported life-long!