David Howell ’82, Senior Vice President, Nuclear Automation at Westinghouse’s Nuclear Services division, felt a clear calling to study engineering long before he reached Geneva. David explains, “I grew up on a dairy farm working on and operating mechanical equipment. I grew interested in how the equipment was designed, and had a desire to design and improve that equipment. This, along with some advice from my mechanical drafting teacher in high school, led me to pursue a mechanical engineering degree.” And excelling in classes like physics and calculus affirmed this decision.
When he enrolled at Geneva, David embarked on a road that would eventually lead him to senior executive status. He says, “The course work was very challenging. I was also exposed to many experiences outside the normal class work, like visiting an active steel mill. Other challenges came from building new relationships with my roommates and working as a team on engineering projects.”
At Geneva, David didn’t face these challenges alone. “My mechanical engineering professor, Dr. Reyle, opened our engineering class by reading the scripture on how God created man and gave him authority to subdue the earth. He described how we, as engineers, have a responsibility to use our skills and talents to design things that will help mankind and protect the earth.”
David also mentions the building of other important relationships that helped him succeed. “Another example is that of my future wife and best friend, who prayed with me, was a great companion and encouraged me to grow spiritually during my time at Geneva. She has continued to impact me as my wife of 31 years and the mother to my two grown children.”
After graduation, David entered the workforce as a mechanical equipment designer for Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s Nuclear Services Division. David notes, “The job was working for the Nuclear Services Division designing and testing remote and robotic equipment for servicing nuclear reactors. It presented many great challenges in that I got to follow the design through the manufacturing and testing stages, and then go with the equipment to the field as a technical advisor to assure that it worked properly.”
His professional career proved to challenge him in his spiritual life as well. David says, “My job also taught me how to deal with being away from home for long periods of time and solving problems on my own under pressure. In addition to the work related challenges, it gave me opportunities to share my faith as a Christian and live that faith in front of others.”
David feels that Geneva prepared him well for his life and his career. “I think both spiritually and academically I was challenged at Geneva to grow up, face difficult challenges, learn things that I did not know and look at things from a different point of view.”
And that preparation has helped him face difficulties that sometimes arise. “Geneva was also the first time that I had been exposed to Reformed biblical teaching, which has shaped my world view based on God’s sovereignty. This had a powerful impact on me, as I was in a very different environment where I had to live my Christian life in front of a sometimes hostile environment when it comes to the gospel.”
David is thankful that his hard work and faith have produced fruit. “I have been blessed with a wonderful career with Westinghouse that has resulted in being Senior Vice President for one of Westinghouse’s four business units. This position also provides me with the opportunity to help people grow in their career and with their personal development, which is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. It also allows me to live as a Christian leader who strives to please God in the way I lead the company.”
David says that he often looks back on his time at Geneva when he is faced with difficult tasks in life. He can always see how God provided a way to overcome the challenges in his life. With years of perspective and life experience behind him, David offers this advice to prospective and current students: “I tell them to find a school they believe can prepare them both spiritually and academically for leadership in their field, and then work very hard in school. But also take time to develop key relationships in life. After that, trust in God, follow His leading and don’t be afraid to try something that you are not the expert in. God has a way of using you in places and roles that you never thought possible.”
by Micah Yarger ’12
A great majority of Geneva students – 70% – complete internships during the course of their study.