For Marwan Al Masri, the kid from Lebanon, beset by the uncertainties of youth, the pieces of his life kept falling into the right places at the right times, like an amazing puzzle composing itself.
They first arrived when Marwan was out of high school and trying to get on with his education. The family couldn’t afford college, but he’d won a scholarship to a university in France. A month before he was scheduled to leave for France, he was with a friend, filling out some forms for the American University of Beirut, a distinguished school established in 1866. The form asked for the applicant’s preferred course of study.
“Electrical engineering?” his pal said.
Naw, Marwan said. What would be the point? He was on his way to France next month.
“I’ll put it in anyway,” his friend said. What could it hurt?
A week before his trip to France, Marwan received a phone call. Not only was he accepted at American U., he was awarded a scholarship. Then he had his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
That door had barely closed when the next one opened.
Marwan had graduated with distinction from American U. and was trying to decide what was next.
“I had two choices,” he said. “I could continue at American U. or go into the military.”
There’s always an uncle.
“Then my uncle in Massachusetts called,” Marwan said. “He said there was a foundation that occasionally gives scholarships.”
And there went Marwan, off to Boston University with an academic scholarship, and then a master’s degree in computer systems engineering.
Next came the job hunt. It included a convenient website that invited seekers to list themselves, and that in turn resulted in a phone call from ELM Electrical.
“I didn’t find them,” he noted. “They found me.”
Next came the prescient engineer, and Marwan’s plan.
“I still remember the first engineer I worked with,” Marwan said. “His name was Mike, and he was asking me – ‘How long you think you’re going to be here for?’ And I said, you know, not more than a year. And he’s like – you watch. You’re going to be here for 20 years. And I said, no way…”
Marwan’s plan was simple and basic — get some experience in the field, put aside some money and head back to Lebanon, to home and family.
“And I’m here for 16 years now,” he said.
The reasons are quick to mind.
“I love it for many things,” he said. “First, the flexibility I have.”
Being able to work remotely out of Boston for about a year, until it suited him to move back to headquarters.
“I can do things at my own pace, as long as I get them done,” he said, “and I get to do all sorts of things – program PLCs, computers and robots. A lot of intense, fascinating things. I love to solve problems, and to make things work better, and I love the idea of automation.
“And I feel appreciated.”