Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering Technology Department
In 1982 John Diebold was 23 years old. He had just quit his job at TRW in Ohio, packed everything into his car, and was driving around the country for six months. “I was trying to ‘find myself,’ I think was the term,” he says now, looking back.
He already had a degree from Vermont Tech in mechanical engineering technology, but he ended up back in Vermont doing carpentry and construction. He enrolled at Vermont Tech for a second degree in civil engineering a technology and started a decades-long stretch of living and learning, or “work full-time, study part-time,” as he calls it. Today he enjoys running half marathons, is an avid fisherman, and is a faculty member in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology department at Vermont Tech.
He says his experiences as a traditional student, and later as a non-traditional student, have helped him understand the range of his own students now. He knows what it’s like at Vermont Tech, because he’s been there.
“I was a typical Vermont Tech student,” he says. “A lot of my high school cohorts went right to a four-year program, or didn’t go to school at all. When I started at Vermont Tech, it was an eye-opener, as it is for a lot of people. I couldn’t wait to pack my bags and go home on a Friday afternoon. I was challenged.”
John credits his early college success to Vermont Tech’s then-basketball coach Austin Wood. “He was the driving force that kept me in school,” he said. “My persistence to succeed was linked to my athletic experience and not wanting to walk away. Austin encouraged me to stick it out.”
By the time he returned for his second degree, John had developed discipline and had learned how to study. His degree in civil engineering technology led to a career in land surveying and civil engineering, a BS in environmental engineering technology, and a masters in civil and environmental engineering.
He spent 10 years at Norwich University studying and working in engineering, and started thinking about teaching. “I was always looking at education,” he says. When Vermont Tech offered him a job, “the ability to be connected to the consulting industry and academia, and bring those two together, was attractive,” he said.
John can now claim to be a second generation faculty member at Vermont Tech because his father taught physics for 15 years after a career in the military. It’s a proud legacy for John. “The employees at Vermont Tech have one thing in common: they want to provide the best educational experience as possible for our students.”
John admits that his life-long approach to learning isn’t for everyone. Many of his students are anxious to get into the workforce and he says they are well-positioned for that path. “The attraction of a Vermont Tech degree is that you are employable right off the bat,” he says. “If you can endure the rigor, there’s a job waiting for you.