Alum Shares Wisdom with Engineering Students

Jamie Lavigueur
SFHS Alum Jerry Welch ‘72, now Principal Hardware Engineer at Amazon Lab126, visited the Intro to Engineering and Design class last week via Amazon Class Chats and shared his advice and expertise with students.
Mr. Welch, who now lives on the West Coast, grew up in Wheaton and recently returned to celebrate his 50-year reunion at SFHS. His mother, a teacher, and father, a tool and die maker, encouraged his career in engineering. Mr. Welch is the eighth in a family of nine children.
He advised students that as they consider their careers to ask themselves what their favorite classes are and not be afraid to take on challenges and learn from their failures. He has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame and University of Illinois, respectively.
“Do what you love,” he said. “And remind yourself that you love it.”
Mr. Welch’s focus at Amazon is the development of several of Amazon’s Alexa products, including the Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and more. Mr. Welch said one of his proudest moments was his suggestion that Amazon provide Alexa products to centers that assist blind individuals. He was inspired by his mother-in-law, who was going blind while he was working on the product.
His career began in factory positions while he was in college and developed over time as he worked for Bell Telephone, ArgoSystems, three start-ups, and more. Students asked him several questions about his more than 40 years in the engineering workplace. They particularly enjoyed hearing about his ability to work with people from all over the world on products that millions of people have in their homes.

Thank you, Mr. Welch, for spending time with our students and sharing with us!

St. Francis High School