Engineering student Kevin Humble’s return to school leads him to new career

by | Apr 4, 2022

Humble is set to graduate in May from the UMSL/Washington University Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program and will start a new job at Boeing.

Wanting a career change, Kevin Humble enrolled in the UMSL/Washington University Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program, and it helped him land a job at Boeing as an electrical engineer. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Kevin Humble thought he was done with school after his high school graduation. He went straight into an apprenticeship to become an electrician.

He was the youngest in the program and worked his way up and began his career doing construction and contract jobs. But finally, the inconsistency of the work became problematic, and he decided to change course.

He enrolled in the University of Missouri–St. Louis/Washington University in St. Louis Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program, and will be graduating this spring with a BSEE. He already has an electrical engineering job lined up at Boeing working in the defense, space and security unit.

“Being on the verge of graduating is immensely exciting,” Humble said. “Thinking of how my journey began going back to school in the summer of 2018 shows me just how far I have come and how I have conquered every challenge that stood in my way.”

Humble was industrious from a young age. At 13 years old, he started working as an umpire for Little League and T-ball games. He liked making his own money and having a sense of personal empowerment. Throughout high school he continued working at an ice cream shop, a bagel shop, as a busboy and as a grocery store bagger.

Finding school boring and not feeling he fit into any of the social cliques, he wasn’t interested in going to college. The idea of entering the workforce immediately after high school and starting his adult life appealed to him.

Humble had an uncle who was an electrician, and the work seemed interesting. So, in his senior year, he applied for an apprenticeship.

“I was fortunate enough and had good enough grades to immediately start an apprenticeship,” he said.

It took six months for Humble to get accepted into the apprenticeship, but when he did, he gave the bagel shop his notice and began his new life. Humble did well and, after a few years, began working as a journeyman electrician.

The money was good. He was even able to help his mom and “repay” her for all she’d done for him. He also went on to get married.

But over the 13 years Humble worked on construction sites and other contract jobs, he grew tired of the unstable nature of his field. And at 30, he decided to enroll at UMSL and revamp his career. He felt becoming and electrical engineer would provide more career stability, and the joint undergraduate engineering program had night classes which allowed him to work during the day.

“Because of the last two years, everybody put stuff on hold,” Humble said. “So, now everything’s coming back to the forefront, and all of sudden they need 15,000 electricians – I’m making up numbers – worth of people, but they only have 5,000. It’s a vastly different story from when I came back to school, but the possibilities are a lot greater in the engineering field than in the construction field.”

Humble’s experience at UMSL has been more fulfilling than he’d imagined. What started out as a “means to an end” resulted in him becoming very engaged with his coursework and the joint undergraduate engineering program. Humble feels strongly about being of service, which has led him to get involved in several organizations that help bolster the experience of electrical engineering students.

He’s currently the vice president of the Society of Future Engineers, the president of UMSL’s Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and serves on the Student Advisory Board for the joint undergraduate engineering program. The IEEE organization has been important to Humble as a means to help him and his colleagues engage in the critical practice of networking for career development.

“What we do is try and get guest speakers and talk about their life and how it has been to be an engineer, what they’ve experienced, how they’ve changed and built a network,” Humble said. “Networking is our No. 1 goal in that group.”

While Humble wants to be available to his classmates for support, he keeps his sights set on his own purpose. His academic advisor, David Politte, has observed Humble’s steadfast commitment to both his educational and professional pursuits.

“All engineering students are expected to be talented in math and science, but what distinguished Kevin, for me, is that he’s also such a thorough communicator,” Politte said. “During our chats, he systematically gathered the information he needed to make good decisions in the present while maintaining laser-like focus on what was possible for the future, both in his coursework and his eventual career.”

Humble got a head start at that career last summer with an internship at Boeing, and that led to a full-time job offer from the company after he graduates. It’s the kind of opportunity that motivated Humble to enroll at UMSL.

“It was an extremely difficult decision to come back to school knowing it would be four years of classes,” Humble said. “But having a job finalized and knowing that I am going to be starting soon makes it even sweeter.”

Humble has been focusing on school, and the new role will allow him and his wife to go from a one-income home to a two-income family, including a son who will turn 3 in May.

“The opportunities which have been presented to me so far, even with my limited time in the engineering field, far outweigh those of my old career as an electrician,” Humble said. “Boeing was actually my No. 1 choice. I shot everything I had at it and luckily got it. So, I’m feeling very fortunate.”

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Wendy Todd

Wendy Todd

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