I am absolutely thrilled to introduce to you Jason Laine, who is currently a Loan Officer and Builder at Iconic Home Loans / Iconic Homes, and he has been a friend of mine for over 30 years! We attended the same school from grades 1 through 8, then met again in engineering school at the University of Cincinnati, and then AGAIN as colleagues at Toyota. Jason has been on my list as someone I have wanted to interview for some time because he has a very interesting and influential career path that illustrates the many opportunities that a background in STEM (specifically engineering) can provide. But he is also a good person with great character that is driven to help others on their life path, not just in his professional career but also in fitness and in his family.
As you will read below, Jason started out his path as an entrepreneur at the age of just 17! He went to college and obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and his career path and life took off from there!
I am so excited to share Jason Laine’s STEM story in my STEM Career Interview Series below!
MTF: In your own words, how would you describe your current job to a child?
Jason: I am responsible for helping people buy their homes. I am also responsible for building and remodeling homes.
MTF: What did you study in college and how / why did you choose it/them?
Jason: I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati (UC). I grew up in Cincinnati and since UC had one of the top engineering programs in the country – it was an easy choice to attend school there. I chose Mechanical Engineering for my love of mechanical systems – especially cars.
MTF: What were your college / university experiences like as a student?
Jason: College was very challenging for me – but I enjoyed it. I had to give up doing things that I always enjoyed doing to focus more on my studies. That was difficult for me because I had always been heavily involved in sports and extracurricular activities.
MTF: What roles / job titles have you had in your profession and how would you describe them?
Jason: As a Quality Engineer at Toyota, I was responsible for ensuring that every vehicle that left a plant was safe and reliable for the families that buy them. As a Customer Service Engineer at AK Steel, I was responsible for ensuring that the steel on cars was strong enough to protect families in case of an accident.
MTF: What inspired you to pursue a career change from engineering?
Jason: I really just wanted to learn something different. I had been in automotive my entire working life and thought it would be nice to try something else that I was passionate about.
MTF: What has inspired you along the way to take on each new path in your career?
Jason: I like to challenge myself by learning new things. I have always enjoyed building and creating – which has inspired me to become a builder.
MTF: When and how did you become interested in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields? Do you have a specific memory or event that happened in your life that helped you choose your career path?
Jason: I grew up working on cars and science was my favorite subject in school. I always enjoyed learning how things worked and how they were built. I have known since I was 8 years old that I wanted to pursue a career in engineering.
MTF: Growing up, what were your favorite subjects and why?
Jason: Science was my favorite subject – especially physics. Science helps explain how the world works and I have always found that fascinating.
MTF: In your opinion, what are some of the most important attributes or characteristics that have made you successful?
Jason: I am very disciplined. I know what I have to do and I work hard to ensure those things are accomplished.
MTF: A career change can be exciting but also very challenging and intimidating. What challenges have you / did you face and how have you overcome them?
Jason: Trying to learn something that is not as familiar as what you have always known is very humbling. At times you question if you are doing the right thing for you and your family. However, I know that I can do anything I put my mind to – as long as I’m willing to put in the effort. I always remind myself that we are capable of accomplishing great things – we just have to believe in ourselves and one another.
MTF: Do you feel that your studies and experiences in college are helpful to you in your career now? How or why? What were most beneficial to you?
Jason: Engineering changes the way you use your brain. It helps you organize your thoughts differently, which opens up your mind to a lot of new ideas. That has been the most beneficial part of my education.
MTF: Were there any other subjects outside of traditional STEM subjects, like art or business, that have been helpful to you in your career now and how?
Jason: I have always been interested in business. I started my own small business when I was only 17 years old and I have had many since then. Studying business has helped me be successful in my own ventures and allowed me to be a bigger asset to the companies I worked for as an engineer.
MTF: What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
Jason: Helping people. Every job I have had in my career has allowed me the opportunity to make people feel safe.
MTF: What has been the most challenging part of your STEM career?
Jason: Travel. I had to travel a lot for work. It was a lot of fun when I was younger – but once I started a family, it became difficult for me to be gone all the time.
MTF: Do you have fun, exciting, or even embarrassing memories or a story from your STEM career that you would be willing to share?
Jason: I worked on a project for Toyota that introduced Automated Guided Carts (AGC) into production. The technology we used would eventually be adopted by companies like Tesla to make autonomous vehicles. I am grateful to have been part of that program, having gotten to see the evolution of the technology.
MTF: What would your advice be to parents and / or educators to help children build confidence and interest in the STEM fields?
Jason: Engineers and Scientists have the capacity to bring about positive and meaningful change in this world. There are an infinite number of opportunities through STEM and I urge parents of both young men and women that show interest in the subject, to fan that flame.
MTF: What would be your advice to someone that is considering a career change from engineering?
Jason: Do it!! You can always go back to what you know. Never pass on an opportunity to challenge yourself or follow a passion.
MTF: If you could give advice to your younger self, based on your career journey so far, what would it be?
Jason: Trust yourself! Most of us don’t give ourselves enough credit. Trust in yourself and follow your heart – God / Universe will take care of the rest.
MTF: What advice do you have for children that are interested in becoming an engineer?
Jason: Follow your heart! If you have an interest in science and engineering, pursue it! You can always do something else in the future. Engineering is one of the most difficult educational paths there are – so aim high!!
MTF: Thank you so much for your time, Jason. Before we end, is there anything else you would like to share or add?
Jason: I want to thank Kristen for the opportunity to speak to all of you. Kristen and I have been friends since 1st Grade! She is an amazing person and I’m truly proud of everything she has accomplished. I am especially proud of what she is doing through this Momgineering The Future Program.
What really stood out to me in this interview was that Jason felt that his engineering education prepared him for many challenges that he has faced in his career, in life, and in his business transitions. I’ve mentioned this before… engineering is an advanced degree in problem solving. Like he said, it makes you think differently about the world and business. The other thing that stood out to me was that his discipline and his commitment to his passions have helped him pivot to several different industries and businesses throughout life while still being able to support his own growing family. Jason is probably one of the most disciplined people that I know, and he encourages others to do the same in each environment he enters.
I am so thankful that Jason was willing to share his career journey as well as his insight and advice for parents and children. I want to thank him for supporting my passion to share unique STEM careers and stories on my blog! I personally felt encouraged by his story as I also enter a crossroads in my own career and decide on my next path.
If you would be interested in sharing your unique STEM story, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.