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Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Tech Savvy (Ben Magee, Automation Technology Faculty)

7 minutes

[UPLIFTING ACOUSTIC GUITAR]

I can remember that when I was struggling as a student, I always had confidence in myself, and that's why I never gave up because I had some low grades, but that didn't stop me from pursuing my degree. It could have easily made me drop out of school, but I always believed in myself.

NARRATOR: Ben Magee became deaf when he was four years old from spinal meningitis. He attended a mainstream school with special classes with deaf students. There he learned sign language and developed his speech-reading skills. In high school, he discovered his interests.

In high school, because I was very good at math, I always got some As. That kind of skill kind of led me to consider engineering. After I graduated from high school, I had to go to a summer orientation program. I was going to RIT. During that summer program, I met a lot of deaf people there who were very much like me. And my world was so small-- that's what it felt like. Everybody was hearing. But at NTID, that's when I became to understand myself a lot of better. I didn't really know that I missed so much about socializing with other people and about deaf culture itself. That's how I started to feel more confident in myself as a deaf person.

NARRATOR: Ben decided to attend the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology and soon joined a special interest club for deaf African-American students.

BEN MAGEE: I'm just fascinated by it because I started meeting more people who were even more like me, went through the same struggles, same experience, and everything. And it felt like a family environment. So, eventually, Ebony Club became my second home. I grew a lot as a person because of Ebony Club. Engineering is one the top hardest majors to pick. I was spending less and less time studying, more and more time socializing with my friends. It wasn't good at all, so it kind of affected my performance as a student. I wasn't a very serious student for a while until I learned that one day I was going to become a father of twin girls. And I thought about it again. Maybe it's time I need to get more serious with school.

NARRATOR: After graduation, Ben found a job in robotics in his hometown of Seattle. He and his family moved there to start his career.

BEN MAGEE: I was working for a variety of companies as an engineer. It was mostly contracts until I found a permanent job with a company that manufactures very expensive equipment-- those who test semiconductor wafers. It looked like this-- very thin. I must have some kind of robot to do that job, which will go inside between the wafers, and pick it up and put it in on a microscope controlled by a computer that will scan and expand to see what you saw in the wafer and make sure the right components are there. My job was mainly to program those robots to do this kind of work. First, a programmer has to train the robot where to move, when to pick up a part, a wafer, for example. And really, a robot can handle anything, not just limited to wafers. Robots are created for work in environments where humans cannot do the job.

NARRATOR: After several years of working in the field, Ben decided to change his career path and pursue teaching robotics at the college level.

BEN MAGEE: The program I'm teaching right now is called automation technology. It's brand new. I'm one of three new faculty. We're learning about the program itself. We're developing instructional materials every day. It's a challenge, yes, but it is also fun because I get to meet all of the students, the new students. They seem to have a good relationship with me because they like me, I like them, we have a good time. I enjoy that.

Much of my experience with my students is during the class. I like to share with them my experiences in the industry. They're always listening because they want to know what it's like outside in the real world. As an engineer, you must go to meetings every week. You have talk to hearing people all the time. So that's fine, but it's hard because keeping an eye on interpreters. But it's OK. If you find good company that can support you, great. I'm just giving you something to think about. Many times, when we finish class, I will chat with them because they enjoy having a talk with me, and I'm happy to explain my experience.

For me, to be able to solve problems-- something new is always hard at first. But the trick-- the trick is that you learn about it, figure out how to get around that problem, whatever it is. You'll get there. Just believe in yourself. Don't give up.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

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In this segment, Ben Magee discusses his educational path to becoming an automation technology teacher. He teaches students who are deaf how to operate the latest machinery. Part of the "Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Tech Savvy! (Vol. 4)" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 7 minutes

Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 1
36 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 2
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 3
9 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 4
10 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 5
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 6
27 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 7
32 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 8
8 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 9
7 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 10
9 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12