Welcome to THEGROUNDEDENGINEER.COM!

My name is Taylor:  Technical Sales Engineer by day, student of personal finance and entrepreneurship by night, and above all – family man that strives to provide the best for my family and friends.

The purpose for creating this website is to write on areas I am passionate about:  personal finance, technology/entrepreneurship, and sales. I am not an expert in these topics, and I value input from others. I believe that the best way to learn is to research and learn multiple perspectives to formulate your own opinion.

Personal finance

I graduated with $66,674 in student loan debt in late 2010….. Ouch. I immediately noticed the interest that I was paying on these loans because the principal balance was not going down quickly, and I began an aggressive payback plan. In addition, I purchased a house and a new car – taking on more debt and truly living the American dream!! After making one of the wisest decisions of my life, marrying my beautiful wife Katie, we analyzed our situation and began to make some significant changes to our finances.

By 2014 we had built up a six month emergency fund (six months of expenses), and we started to save up for graduate school. We also reduced our loans to roughly $45k, which seems like good progress BUT we still had $45k to go!! Graduate school cost was roughly $15k-$20k every semester (for both of us). We were able to cover about 75% of the total cost out-of-pocket, which meant we did need to take out roughly $20k in additional student loans. As we neared completing graduate school we knew we needed to get serious about eliminating our debt once and for all:  we needed to develop a better plan.

We really accelerated crushing debt after I learned some novel, but simple concepts from a podcast by Scott Alan Turner. I fully recommend Scott for personal finance advice because of the research and time he puts into his blog. I started listening to Scott back in December of 2015, and we are on track to be debt free (other than our mortgage) by November 2016!

Technology and Entrepreneurship

I began my journey at the University of Minnesota in the Institute of Technology program (now College of Science and Engineering). I was undecided if I wanted to study Mathematics or study Electrical Engineering. I had interest in teaching high school math because math was my favorite subject and I liked working with kids. However, I quickly realized the amount of debt I was about to take on to attend college and I decided to go forward with Electrical Engineering (current salary for EE majors is $65K!). In addition, it is a job that is in high demand!

After completing my EE degree in the fall of 2010, I began working as Electrical Engineer. I thoroughly enjoyed the work, but I also liked talking with people and collaborating on tasks and projects. The engineering work was a little dull (at least at the company I worked at), and I pursued an opportunity with my current company, Mel Foster, as a Technical Sales and Application Engineer. This job provides a great deal of autonomy and it requires motivation, organization, and hard work. Additionally, I get to learn about new, exciting technology from the lines that my company represents.

There are many different projects I dabbled in outside of work to scratch the entrepreneurial bug. In addition to aspiring to start a business, I have a great deal of interest in the process of taking an idea from conception to validation and ultimately production. I look forward to sharing my experiences with everyone, and I look forward to hearing from all of you on your experiences with entrepreneurship.

Sales Organization

Mel Foster is a manufacturer’s representative in the semiconductor and electro-mechanical industries. At Mel Foster, I get to work with different companies and their engineers, which I enjoy because I get to be involved in their designs. It is great to understand what these engineers are working on and then identify the problems they are trying to solve (that is usually where the selling part comes in on my end!).

Reps continuously need to provide value to the lines they represent because often, companies are looking for ways to cut costs. Reps are often a target because they are variable cost of sales (meaning a company can fire a rep and increase its contribution margin or bottom line immediately). My graduate school Capstone project focused on developing a formula for companies to determine the best way for them to organize their selling function. I am excited to share my findings on future blog posts!