With retirement in the coming months, Pierce County Development Engineering Inspector Tom Eddy looked back at his 40-year career as a civil construction inspector, and found that Bates Technical College played a critical role in his success.
“I credit Bates Technical College with getting started in my rewarding career,” says Eddy, who enrolled in the concrete technician program at the recommendation of his uncle in 1978.
Originally from Santa Barbara, Calif., Eddy moved to Los Angeles as a teenager. His parents were musicians by trade, and his childhood was filled with positive experiences with others in the music field.
It seemed likely that he would also work in that industry, but a 1976 summer visit to his relatives in Tacoma interrupted his music education, when he chose to remain in the city for an extended period to do some maintenance work on his grandparents’ home.
I was looking for something practical, a career where I could support my family.
“I had been studying music at a junior college in California, then at the University of Southern California, but when I visited my family in Tacoma, I also met my future wife, Yukiko. We married in 1977. I knew I needed a change in direction when I became a stepfather and my wife and I had a baby on the way. I was looking for something practical, a career where I could support my family,” he says.
That’s when his engineer uncle Arthur Anderson, who owned a company at the Port of Tacoma, suggested getting into the trade. He told Eddy about the concrete technician program at Bates, which took students approximately 18 months to complete.
Focused on studying while also working part time, Eddy earned his certificate as an inspector after just 13 months.
I was incredibly motivated to get trained and land a job.
“I was incredibly motivated to get trained and land a job,” recalls Eddy. “I got my first job based on a recommendation from my instructor, Bob Cook, and I worked there for over six years before moving onto jobs at the City of Tacoma, Kitsap County and City of Seattle, before landing one in Pierce County Planning and Public Works, initially as a lab technician in a materials lab,” he smiles.
I value the time I spent at Bates … I wanted to share my experience with others so they know and understand the value and benefits of a technical education.
Working in the engineering field has yielded a long and successful career for Eddy, he says. “I value the time I spent at Bates all those years ago, and I wanted to share my experience with others so they know and understand the value and benefits of a technical education.”