You’re getting ready to prepare for an important exam that will have a big impact on your career. So you’re asking yourself, “Who is this Dr. Tom guy? Why should I take a course from him?” Watch this short video to find out why you should.
Hi, I’m Dr. Tom. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell you more about myself and my commitment to helping mechanical engineers become PE’s.
I grew up in Atlanta. When I was a kid, I met a guy who was in the Navy’s flight school in Pensacola. He let me wear his helmet and even made me a model of the T-28 trainer he was flying at the time. It was then that I decided I wanted to be a Navy pilot.
I had a wonderful experience going to Georgia Tech, particularly during the Apollo program and Apollo 11 landing on the moon, and not surprisingly, I got my degree in Aerospace Engineering.
After I graduated, I was accepted into the Navy’s flight program and went to Pensacola just like I had dreamed as a kid. Although I had always wanted to be a pilot, I’d lost my 20/20 vision during college. So I chose to become a RIO, like Goose in 'Top Gun.' That is where I first discovered teaching, running the intercept trainer at night for my fellow classmates. I earned my wings and was assigned to an F-4 squadron at Oceana. I was released early after several flights because of problems with my inner ears. So that was that.
I returned to Georgia Tech and became a grad student in the Engineering Science and Mechanics Department. I had to retake courses that I had not done well in the first time, like dynamics. It had been one of my hardest courses, and I was determined it was not going to beat me. Now I love dynamics, and I love the fact that I figured out how to teach it.
My first engineering job was with a satellite communications company in Atlanta called Scientific-Atlanta. After several years there I moved up I-85, first working for a textile machinery company, then Fluor/Daniel in Greenville, SC, and Burlington Industries in Greensboro. I saw all kinds of equipment, all kinds of processes. I saw applications in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, textile engineering, and industrial engineering.
Now, when I'm working problems in classes, I remember when I was in the trenches, just like my participants are right now. When I am presenting a topic, I often say, “Well, we had this pump problem or transmission problem...” I bring those work experiences to my teaching. I think this helps to connect the dry engineering topics with the real world of engineering practice. It helps make a valuable connection.
Eventually I realized that teaching could be more satisfying for me than working in industry. I applied and was hired as a visiting instructor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at NC State and eventually got my PhD in '90. I stayed on to teach and advise undergraduates. I have taught every undergraduate course for sophomores and juniors: statics, dynamics, solids, fluids, thermo I and II, machine dynamics, machine design, and heat transfer.
I've taught all of these subjects many, many times, and all these basic topics are part of the Dr. Tom review. Because these subjects are really hard, my favorite aspect of teaching is seeing the light bulb go on. It takes hard work to master them but it shouldn't be a mystery. I love removing that mystery, and seeing someone finally “get it.” This is what inspires me to be the best teacher I can be.
Somewhere along the line people, many of them former students, began asking me about doing an ME PE review. So I became involved with the many aspects of professional licensure, including teaching review courses for the ME FE and PE Exams. I live and breathe the exams every day.
I kid with people about the PE Exam when I say, “It's not what you learned in the four years since you graduated, it's what you haven’t forgotten.” You worked hard to get your BS degree, mastering all sorts of subjects, and you probably have forgotten a great deal since you graduated; I did. When I went into the Navy, I was only gone from school two years. I got back in that first graduate class and I'm thinking, “Let's see, sine squared theta plus cosine squared theta equals what?” I had to learn everything all over again.
I understand in four years you’re going to loose your proficiency. Let me help you get it back. At least until you have passed the exam. You may forget it all over again at the same exponential rate that you forgot it before. That's okay. This is not about recovering everything you learned. This is about passing the exam.
If you work hard in my class, you will do well and you will be a success and feel good about it. It is not going to happen overnight, but I have a plan that can get you there. What I want to do is to help you get back up to speed on the areas that you need to pass the exam in the nine subjects that you had in school. That's a daunting task if you consider how many sub-topics there are in the nine subjects. That’s fine. We're going to do them one at a time. Step by step. Just keep moving with Dr. Tom. You will get there.
The more I've worked with mechanical engineers, the more I want to help them obtain their PE. That really is what I enjoy doing. When folks who have been in the Dr. Tom PE Review Course take the exam and call to say, “Dr. Tom, I passed,” I nearly jump up and down. It's so very, very rewarding!
We live on a hundred and thirty acre farm where my wife grew up in North Carolina. Some years ago her father showed me how to make wine. We call it “making wine Daddy's way,” and I must make a pretty good bottle of wine since it has won several Blue Ribbons at the State Fair. A perfect day for me would be to get up and prepare problems and solutions for my courses then teach a review class that gives folks the strategies they need to pass the exam. I would then spend the rest of the day with my wife, go out late in the afternoon to toast the sunset together and discuss our day with some of Daddy's wine.
Dr. Thomas H. Brown, Jr., PE.
Institute for Transportation Research and Education
Program Manager for the Civil PE and FE Exam Review Courses
NC State University Raleigh, North Carolina
Degrees: PhD Mechanical Engineering – 1990 NC State, MS Engineering Mechanics – 1973 Georgia Tech, BS Aerospace Engineering – 1970 Georgia Tech
30 Years Teaching Experience
7 Years as a Practicing Engineer Scientific-Atlanta, Fluor-Daniel, Burlington Industries
Author of Marks’ Calculations for Machine Design, a companion to Marks’ Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers
Co-Editor of the Standard Handbook of Machine Design and the Mechanical Design Handbook