Chris Hightower is a Senior Engineer in Technical Services with Universal Parks and Resorts. His career started at Universal in high school as a production cook, and after he got his degree in Electronics Engineering Technology (from FAMU), he found that Universal offered excellent career opportunities as well. In this wide-ranging conversation, Chris talks about his career path, giving back to the community and what it takes to be a theme park engineer.
“If you keep telling people your goals, they are going to want to help you get them.”
Setting goals came up as a common thread when discussing networking, career advice and business practices in general. Chris emphasized that setting and achieving goals, large and small, helped him get to where he is and can be the difference between pursuing a career or continuing the cycle of letting your circumstances determine your future.
Chris is a fan of the SMART goal setting model, where your goals have to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed. Adding these parameters ensure you will take the little steps necessary to achieve larger goals.
Career in engineering
“We put you at the end of that robot and swing you around so you can have as much fun as possible.”
Even starting as a production cook in high school, Chris always loved to tinker. He wanted to know how things worked and in some cases, how to break them. If he could break them, then he could figure out how to fix them, or even determine how to redesign them so they wouldn’t break in the first place. This is a critical skill given that the rides he works on have to operate safely for long periods of time.
Chris also feels that it is his desire to continue learning that continues to propel him forward. Whether it’s engaging in “tinker time”, experiencing attractions at other parks, or working to enhance current practices, Chris sees every experience as a way to grow and enhance his skills.
“Most people don’t believe in themselves or don’t believe [something better] is possible.”
As a Black engineer, Chris recognizes that he is someone that a young person would look up to as an example. He emphasizes that if a young person doesn’t see someone who looks “like them”, it’s for them to imagine themselves in that role. That’s one of the reasons Chris is so passionate about the community outreach that he does, going into local schools to talk to young people about career paths that they may not have thought of. He is also proud of the work he’s done to encourage students to pursue STEM curriculum to help educate and inspire future generations of engineers.
For more about Chris, connect with him on LinkedIn.
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