Profile For EngineeringMother

EngineeringMother's Info

  • Location:
    Fairfield, PA

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    11 years, 6 months ago

EngineeringMother's Bio

I am an Air Force vet, otherwise known as a WingNut. My MOS was a Fire Control Systems Mechanic and I repaired radar systems on Phantom F4 jets. I was stationed in Texas, Colorado and Okinawa Japan. Since then I've been a Field Service Engineer for Beckman Instruments repairing hospital lab equipment, Mettler-Toledo working on precision balances and twice had jobs going to bars and restaurants to fix pinball/video games, jukeboxes, pool tables and cigarette machines. It was all fun! Loved the traveling, meeting new people but mostly just driving alone from place to place, seeing new sites.

I met my ex on the job and quit to stay home when we started having babies. Left him after eight years; turns out he was a mean old bully. Raised two sons by myself and now they are headed out of the nest. One is pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, the other in Civil Engineering. I am about 20 credit hours short of my degree in Electro-Mechanical Engineering. For the last few years I've been building on the training I received in the Air Force, one class at a time. So you see where I came up with my username!

I've worked in IT, have multiple certificates and was a Network Administrator. I've been a substitute teacher in public schools, taught computer use at the local college and had my own computer repair company, The Computer Nurse. For a while I worked for the Army at USAMMA (US Army Medical Materiel Agency) where they choose all the medical equipment bought by the Army. Currently I am a Regulatory Affairs Specialist at a company that makes casks for and transports nuclear waste. I have gotten VERY familiar with 10CFR-Energy (Code of Federal Regulations) and 49CFR-Transportation. Info that will come in very handy driving a truck!

My boys are leaving and I'm not staying home by myself, I'm going too!

Here's to another new adventure. Forever expanding life skills.

Please visit my blog:

EngineeringMother's Photo Gallery

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Posted:  10 years, 9 months ago

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Hi Starcar,

I've been out with my trainer 5 weeks now and have averaged showers every two to three days. In between, baby wipes work wonders. Take them with you to the rest room, strip down and wipe, refresh deodorant, change undies, socks and shirt and you're good to go. I put my makeup on in the truck. Like Star said I don't want to be holding up the shower room. Wipes for sensitive skin work fine for wiping makeup off at the end of the day. I have really short hair and only need some wax or paste to style. Basically rub the top of my head with my fingers and pull hair up on the top. Done. Find a hair style that's very low maintenance.

As far as porta potty, every shipper/receiver, every convenience store and every truck stop has a bathroom. It hasn't been a problem yet in five weeks. I go every chance I get. I call it pre-emptive peeing. I still drink plenty of water; a 24 pack of 1/2 liter bottles lasts me five days. Eat healthy, lots of veggies and you should have a BM every one or two days. I buy spinach leaves, cooked chicken tenderloins, sweet bell peppers and blue cheese dressing. Alternate the chicken with lean lunch meat & cheese or egg salad. Greek yogurt (plain full fat) with honey for breakfast. High protein/low carb. We have a plug in cooler in the truck. Maybe once a week we have breakfast at the truck stop, waffles, eggs and bacon. I think I've lost weight while driving lol. Some days I only eat twice. I'm up to driving 8-9 hours a day now.

I wear jeans and t shirts which I buy at Goodwill. Men's white undershirts work, too. Also sneakers. Which I bought new :) Truck stops and terminals have laundry facilities. You don't need to bring much, just a week's worth maybe.

I am loving it. It's harder work than it looks but I'm still having a blast. I should have my own truck by Memorial Day weekend. Hooray! Only 70 BTW (behind the wheel) hours to go.

If I think of anything else I'll post it. Stay safe out there. Go for it ladies. If you want it, go for it.

Posted:  10 years, 9 months ago

View Topic:

Swift training

So, orientation was a three day overview of what was covered in the three week academy plus Qualcomm basics, HR, what the mechanic needs in any help message and another pee test. Experienced drivers applying had to do a road test to see if they could actually shift and drive. Since I had just come out of Swift's academy I was not required to do that. At the Jonestown terminal just north of Harrisburg PA you stay at a hotel just a couple blocks down the road that provides a decent breakfast and Swift fed us lunch each day. There's a Love's truck stop one block up from the hotel if you simply cannot wait to hang out at such places.

There were 26 of us in the class and Mr. Frank, the trainer said in six months there might be six of us still with Swift. We lost two the first day, one because of medical issues. The next day a few more were gone. Seems they really couldn't drive after all. Third day we lost more, mostly medical issues. BTW don't go celebrate too hardy when you pass your CDL test. We all had to do the pee test and alcohol in your system will fail you.

Below is just a few of the models Mr. Frank had around his desk in the corner of the orientation class room.

model trucks on desk at Swift truck driver training academy

I was the first to get a mentor. Partly because I agreed to a male (seems there are very few female mentors) and because I had a Hazmat endorsement. I started that Wednesday night, right after orientaion was over. Russ drove from York PA to Lakewood NJ and I drove back. At night. In the rain. Through construction in the Jersey Turnpike. Talk about in at the deep end. After two hours of that I was exhausted. But after that nothing much fazes me. Russ has drives regional for a dedicated account, Church & Dwight, who make Arm & Hammer products. The Hazmat we have done is vats of liquid fragrance. The stuff that goes in dryer sheets and laundry detergent. It's alcohol based so it's flammable and if spilled could harm ground water.

I'm currently at 170 hours of the required 240 of BTW (behind the wheel) training. I'm still having a great time. It's harder than I thought but I'm so glad I took the leap. I'll be back to tell more about the driving. Til then keep 'em rolling and drive safe.

Posted:  10 years, 11 months ago

View Topic:

Swift training

Week 3

Every morning we were on the range at 6am. In the dark. Started the truck and did in cab check. In reality we were trying to get warm. Once it was light we could move the trucks and would start our skills practice. Lots of practice on skills. Every morning we third weekers would go out on the road for driving practice. Our instructor tried to find more difficult routes each day. This was very good practice and here at school is the place to mess up as long as you learn from your mistakes. Pay attention and learn from others’ mistakes, too. Monday nobody could shift, we were all grinding gears. Each day we got better. By Thursday my classmate, Andy was so smooth I thought I was riding in an automatic. Really. Wednesday we both passed our driving test at school and Thursday we each drove for two hours. That afternoon we did one go round on the skills and we were done. They let us leave early on Thursday. I stayed one more night and left Friday morning. Feeling real good about my test. I’m scheduled for Monday at 9am near Harrisburg PA.

Week 4

I drive up to Lancaster PA Sunday night and check into motel. They are calling for snow in the morning. Hope it’s not much.

Monday morning Andy and I report to third party test site over 30 minutes early. Not anxious much, are we? Snow was falling but only a little sticking to the grass. As time went on it got worse. Andy is scheduled for 7am. By 7:30 the roads are covered and the testing has been canceled. Yuck! This is the view out the back window of my pickup. Lancaster county truck driving school truck in the snow

So we head back to the motel to hang out until Tuesday. The tester rearranged their schedule so we could test the next day. Thank you, thank you. I took a nap since I hadn’t slept much the night before, nerves were getting to me. Later on I walked across the street and got a manicure. gelmanicure32513_zpsd841557b.jpg

Looks like a claw hand, doesn't it? I got a french manicure in gel. We'll see how long it lasts. It was still snowing.

Tuesday morning, fully rested we show up 30 minutes early again. Andy goes first. He passes. Hooray! Then it’s my turn. We walk around and point at (not touch) what I am checking. Do not raise the hood just list off what I would be looking at. Once I “check” one brake system on one wheel I don’t need to repeat it. So pre-trip went quickly. In-cab next. By the way when you’re going to check the air brakes be sure you have air supplied to the system. I got part way through the check and said to myself “something’s not right here”. I told the tester I was doing it wrong and she let me start over, said I caught it in time. Whew! Anyway after that was the driving part of the test. I hit every gear. I never forgot which gear I was in (kept repeating it in my head). Didn’t run over any curbs or cars or people. Was even able to hold a conversation with the tester while on the highway. Best of all I did not stall when reentering the test lot and that was upslope from a stop. Afterwards I called my instructor at Swift and said “I don’t know how to break this to you…” and he went oh no. Then I said I passed! He was very excited for me. I thanked him for taking me on those challenging drives. I was more than prepared for the tests.

So long story short, I PASSED!! I now have my CDL with all the endorsements. Wednesday I went to the port and picked up my TWIC card. I am ready to roll. Now I’m headed for 3 day orientation on Monday in Harrisburg PA. After that I will go out with my female mentor/trainer and learn about trucking in the real world. Right now I’m repacking my stuff to go on my mentor’s truck. Trying to keep it as light as possible and take up as little space as possible.

I have been having a blast this past month. I got up in the truck for my test and thought “This feels comfortable, sitting in this driver’s seat”. Thank you Brett for all the fore knowledge this site gave me. It really made all the difference.

FYI I’ll be 56 next month and I don’t feel old at all. I’m excited to be starting on another new adventure. Let’s roll!

Posted:  10 years, 11 months ago

View Topic:

Swift training

The better you get, the more fun it is

And it's a whole lot of fun already! I had one instructor tell me if all his students had my attitude his job would be so much easier. Gotta love it. Brett's advice has helped me stay focused on the positive. When others complain and some do a lot of that, I remind myself this is temporary. Even when they had me switch rooms to share with another woman student, one of those who tends to complain all the time about everything, I don't pay any attention to what she says, I don't get upset and I don't complain. I'll be out of here in a week so it doesn't really matter.

Day 11

We drove on the highway today. Big fun! I didn't hit anything. I didn't run over any curbs or knock down any signs. I didn't put the truck in a ditch. A good drive. I also passed my skills test today. Hooray! I was able to do the 45degree backing in one shot two different times. I'm going to try brake shifting to smooth out my downshifting. See how that goes. You slow the truck down until it almost feels like it's going to stall and then shift down to the next lower gear without double clutching. I seem to want to shift while before the truck speed is slow enough.

Day 12

All day in classroom. Lots of good information about safety and regulations. Also covered the Qualcomm system and what the different screens mean. Our instructor used to be the safety guy in the Phoenix office and was once a driver manager so he really knows the system. He shared the website for the CSA regulations (Compliance, Safety and Accountability). This lists the points for the various infractions and what the DOT looks for. The Feds have not yet set a cut off level where a company can say a driver is no longer eligible for hire. That is still being determined along with tweaking the regs themselves. It was interesting to see what they can get you for, points and fines. Not just your driving but the condition of the truck itself and your own condition or driver fitness. So cut back on the carbs boys and girls and eat more veggies!

I now have a test date of March 25 to go for my CDL. smile.gif

Posted:  10 years, 11 months ago

View Topic:

Swift training

Day 8

Worked on skills (the 45degree backing, etc.) and went on the road. Had a great time! Did not run over any curbs, hit any hydrants, knock over any signs or stall out. A very good drive. We did not have our two hours in the classroom at the end of the day because the new class was running behind schedule. BTW there are two women in that class, me in this one and one in the class ahead of us. Seems to be an average of 15% women drivers. Cool.

Day 9

I passed off my pre-trip check today with a 100%. Yeehaw! This is wonderful. I am getting this and having a blast while doing it. Spent lots of time working on skills today. Two hours of classroom at end of day was a slide show on shifting and turning.

Day 10

Went on the road again today. The instructor said Andy and I were doing well enough to be tested out by the academy now and we’re only halfway through our scheduled course time. This is great. I have to work on my down shifting but am feeling very confident about my developing skills. Thanks for the advice, Brett. I’m watching the tandems now and things are clicking much better. I actually got the trailer into the slot in one shot this morning. Woo hoo! After that I did it with only one or two pull ups for the rest of the morning. Two hours of classroom at end of day was a slide show on truck controls and routine maintenance.

Posted:  10 years, 11 months ago

View Topic:

The lonely times for women truck drivers


I forgot to mention, I too am finishing up my degree. I've been taking one class at a time for the last six years. Building on the credits from the Air Force I am now about 20 credits shy of my Bachelor's degree. The remaining classes are all online and I will re-start that once I'm settled in this new life. I am going for a degree in Electro-Mechanical Engineering with a minor in BioMedical. My sons are each going for engineering degrees, one as a Mechanical and the other as a Civil Engineer. So you see where I got my username. smile.gif

FYI I will be 56 yr old next month. Don't ever say it's too late or you're too old. Live your life. Won't nobody else do it for you.

Posted:  10 years, 11 months ago

View Topic:

The lonely times for women truck drivers

Who wants a white knight? You just end up picking up after his white horse. rofl-3.gif

Very interesting thread, ladies. I love learning about all of you.

I went into the Air Force out of high school because I didn't know what I wanted to be and when I took the ASVAB aptitude test for the military I scored very high in electronics. Who knew? Anyway I learned to repair radar on Phantom Jets and when I got out continued in electronic repair. For many years I was a field service engineer, repairing things at the customer's site. I worked on medical equipment, lab equipment, precision balances and my favorite, pinball & video games, jukeboxes, pool tables and cigarette machines. I did that one in Denver and San Francisco. I knew every bar and restaurant in both those towns. Lots of strange characters there. Lots more on the road, too I'm thinking. Anyway met my ex husband while calibrating balances at Merck Pharmaceutical. Stay at home Mom for 8 years, left him, raised my two sons while re-entering the work force and have worked in a cube for the last 10 years. Yuck :P

Now they are off to college after each serving two year missions that start this fall so I said I'm not staying home by myself, I'm leaving too!

Believe it or not, I used to be terribly shy and self conscious. The Air Force cured me of that and life kept me cured. Star, I like what you said about who you're with reflects who you are. I am trying to become the person I want to be with. If that means I'm by myself well at least I'll like the company.

I've also heard it said that men are just desserts. YOU are the banquet of your own life. A man is a nice treat but you can't live on just that. You must nourish yourself.

BTW I love meet up groups. I also ballroom and swing dance for fun and believe me it's a lot of fun. It's just a dance and everybody has a great time and they are all over the country. You better believe I'm taking my dancing shoes on the road with me.

See you out there ladies!

Posted:  10 years, 11 months ago

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Star is right. This training is sooo helpful. I got all my endorsements the first time I tested. When I started school it was mostly review so I could focus on the driving which is new to me. I used your back up method today, Star and I didn't over correct so much. Thanks. I also went and got myself a toy truck to practice with in my hotel room. A NASCAR tractor trailer with Danica Patrick :)

I'll be 56 next month and I'm having the time of my life. Again. I've done lots of unusual things that I enjoy. You can do this ladies. Believe in yourself, stay focused and stay safe. Live your life!

Posted:  10 years, 11 months ago

View Topic:

Swift training

We got out a little early on Saturday so I went to the biggest mall in town and took myself out to dinner at Texas de Brazil. YUM! My hotel room has a kitchen and I've been cooking for myself all week. Then I got a pedicure. Ahh, heaven!

But back to training which is indeed rolling right along.

Week Two Day 1, Day 7 overall

We spent the entire day on the range. Started our pre-trip in the dark. Daylight Savings Time kicked in over the weekend. Did an in-cab and air brake check. Once it was light we could start moving trucks. So Andy (the other PA guy) and I went back to skills - pulling forward to a certain spot, straight backing, 45degree docking. At first I couldn't get the trailer in the slot for anything. Then the instructor told us to switch to the 48' trailer we were using last week and that we would be tested on. I had been working with a 53' trailer. That five feet makes a big difference!

We were joined by two other students from the class ahead of us. They are in their third week, also from PA and ready to test out. They must pass a skills and a driving test with Swift and then with DMV. The instructor manager calls and sets appointments with DMV for each of us. We continued taking turns doing skills until a couple hours later when I'm in the cab lining up and I see smoke coming from under the hood. Right away I stopped, looked at the water temp and it was way up. I shut down the truck and the instructor had one of the third week students do a drop and hook to bring over another tractor. I got a lot of ribbing about my pre-trip check and not seeing this hose that busted. Of course, it wasn't busted when we did our check and the engine was completely cold. It's just one of those things. In the real world I would have pulled over and called my Driver Manager for help. They would have sent someone to fix it. And I would go on.

After lunch we were taught drop and hook. Each of us, about 15 in all did the whole thing while the others watched. As we each finished we went back to skills. It is very different driving a bobtail than hauling a trailer.

I was still having trouble with the 45degree dock so tonight I went to Target and got a toy truck, a NASCAR authentic tractor trailer to practice with in my hotel room. Of course I had to get the one with Danica Patrick :)

Posted:  10 years, 12 months ago

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Thank you, Star. I'll be using this tomorrow on the range. Friday I had trouble backing in from a 45degree angle. Sometimes I got it, sometimes I didn't. I went over it in CDL Diaries, Swift Training. This should help.

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