Howard Last

After graduating Tech I went on for my Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and Master’s in Civil (Sanitary) Engineering and my PE License. One of my first jobs was with a consulting engineering firm that specialized in water treatment for steel mills. The first time I went to a mill was with one of the other guys. As we toured the plant he would ask me about different plant sections. The first was the coke ovens and then an open hearth. When I correctly identified them he said, “I forgot you went to Tech.” My boss was also a Tech graduate as were several other of the men.

As a mechanical engineering student I took a machine shop course. The first day of class the professor handed out tool bits. The rake angle was wrong so I went to a grinding wheel to fix it. The professor ran over and said the lab assistant will fix it. You should have seen the look I received when I said we ground tool bits the first day in high school. The class project one day included turning a taper. I got the same look again and he said, “Excellent, you are only off by two thousandths.” I replied, “At Tech I would have lost 20 points for that.”

While working I went on to get my P.E. License then set out to work on my own. My most memorable project was the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in 1993 following the bombing. The blast took out the entire HVAC plant. It is not often that you see 7,000-ton chillers. For those that forgot their thermodynamics that is how much liquid water at 32 degrees a chiller can turn to ice at 32 degrees in 24 hours. Does latent heat ring a bell?

My brothers Mike ’64 and Stephen ’66 are also Tech graduates, as was our father, Irving Last, Class of 1929. Tech definitely runs in the family! Also, I can’t forget taking the GG train for 4 years.