On the Ball    |    Geoffery Orsak
Dean of SMU Lyle School of Engineering

A friend of mine had a roofing company. I decided that I would take a manly man job for the summer and attempt to be a roofer in South Texas. That lasted all of one day. I wasn’t ready to be a roofer.

So then I was left with having to scramble to find an alternate summer job. I was fortunate enough that my stepfather hired me. He’s a urologist. He hired me to be his aide-de-camp, and to help him in a number of things around the office. I was very good at math and science and in the lab, so I rapidly moved up in the organization.

So this is where the story gets crazy. The office specialized on Fridays in doing vasectomies. It’s a hands-on job to do a vasectomy. So I was asked to be the assistant in all of this, which involved a wide range of activities in preparing the patient and aiding the surgeon, seeing the patient on his way, and then ultimately doing all those tests later to verify that the procedure was a success.

For an 18-year-old, that was a pretty remarkable environment to be in. It was even more shocking and remarkable for the patients who came in who were confronted by an extremely young-looking surgical assistant. So the stories became legendary.

It’s a pretty frightening procedure for most men anyway. It involves a lot about their identity and some pretty sensitive terrain, so they would open up and confess to me as I was preparing them for surgery. It became my calling card in my early professional career that I specialized in this very unique area of science and technology.

Ultimately, it led me into a whole new wonderland of science and engineering. I was prepared to do things that others weren’t. And that’s really what I do today, take on challenges that other people are afraid to touch—pardon the pun.