This article is the first of a three part series following Joshua Romo and Tom Tappel’s mission of connecting engineering to vocation and UD’s mission to be “The University Of The Common Good.”
Be on the lookout for part three in future Flyer News’ print and online platforms.
The University of Dayton prides itself on being a “University For The Common Good,” a new initiative implemented by President Spina. Two engineering students, Joshua Romo and Tom Tappel, are committed to figuring out how their major fits in with the mission.
“Our ultimate goal is to connect engineering with vocation,” Romo said. “We know there’s a lot of people that know about vocation, let’s try to get people to talk about it and uncover their stories. There’s little structures constantly changing in the School of Engineering.”
Tappel followed up Romo’s statement, “The school is trying to uncover the connection between engineering and vocation, and we’re trying to address it.”
The duo began their mission last semester while participating in roundtable discussions with various engineering faculty and Chaminade scholars. They received lots of support from the discussions, leading them to reach out to the entire School of Engineering at UD.
Romo and Tappel decided to take a leap of faith and interview those who are successful leaders in UD’s community who also had an experience with an engineering program. Their first subject in their mission to connect engineering and vocation was Brother Raymond L. Fitz, SM., who currently serves as the Fr. Ferree Professor of Social Justice in the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community.
In 1979, Fitz became the 17th president of the University and is the longest-serving president of UD to date. Fitz joined the Society of Mary, a Roman Catholic religious order in 1960. He then received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UD in 1964.
While pursuing his master’s and doctorate degrees at Polytechnic University in New York, Fitz was provided with opportunities in a cosmopolitan environment. He became interested in using his engineering skills by creating mathematical models to investigate social issues in the world, which added to his mission of finding his own vocation.
Later after Fitz’s educational journey, he became the president of UD, which then led to a different twist in his road to discovering his vocation. He made sure to remind himself of his commitment to his vocation throughout the process.
“In my own thinking, I asked myself, what are the pillars around how you live out your vocation?” Fitz said. “What things do you want to accomplish? How do you think you’re being called? One of my things is making sure to keep focus on those two or three pillars defining my vocation.”
Although Fitz went through his own journey of finding peace within his own sense of vocation, he realizes that some engineering students struggle with finding their own vocation. For those who are still determined to figure out their calling, Fitz advises to listen from within.
“The vocation has to come from inside, there’s a voice inside of you that says, ‘this is one way to look at it, this is what God is calling you to do, this is my inner fulfillment. It’s something that makes sense to me,” Fitz said. “I think you’re always taking that voice and clarifying it and adjusting it to the situation. Adaptation and change is really important to work with.”
Romo and Tappel are not only trying to figure out how engineering and vocation click, but also how UD’s School of Engineering can improve the situation by helping guide students more successfully to find their own vocation. According to Fitz, a step in the right direction includes teaching future engineering students to be socially conscious of the outcomes of their work.
“We need to try to get an understanding of the common good that makes sense for engineers,” Fitz said. “There’s always a challenge of solving an engineering problem in the field, but you always have to think about what the impact of the process of design will be for the consumers, and how that will help them flourish.”
Photo Courtesy of Joshua Romo