It is said “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” My story is sort of a backward version of that. I grew up in urban areas of Southern California, but loved hunting and fishing with my Dad, enjoying the more “country” areas that we visited. The three years we spent in Visalia (7th-9th grade) cemented my love for the wide open spaces. We spent many days dove and pheasant hunting in the areas north of Visalia, surrounded by cotton, alfalfa ,grapes and orchards of every type.
I majored in Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and took some Ag Mechanics class along with my ME courses. We stayed in San Luis Obispo County after Graduation and I worked in automation and cryogenics.
We moved to Mariposa in 1990 and I found work as the Plant Engineer at a large winery north of Madera. I was now firmly “planted” in AG.
The last 20 years have been a combination of Winery and food processing work along with a brief foray in the Ethanol plant in Madera.
Most people don’t consider engineering to be a big part of AG, but believe me, there is a ton of engineering involved to build, commission and operate a large winery or food processing plant. My employer, Stantec, is an Consulting Engineering firm with an experienced Food Processing team based in Fresno. We do plant layouts, process engineering, lots of drawings and calculations and construction management. All of those pumps, pipes, tanks, conveyors, cooling towers and refrigeration systems take a lot of planning to get them sized right and operating efficiently.
So don’t forget to show some love to the engineers you encounter. We may be a bit nerdy at times, but we have dirty boots and our jobs depend on AG as well.
Dave Lombard, P.E., lives in Mariposa, California with his wife of 38 years, Christy. They have three children and seven grands. He is a licensed professional engineer, certified welder, private pilot and bass player. Christy is a teacher’s aide in Cathey’s Valley. Dave enjoys road cycling, working in his shop and serving as an Elder at Ponderosa Basin Chapel.