February 25, 2022
AEP Engineer Continues Family's Legacy of Helping Others
Family is everything to AEP Engineering Associate Demetrius LaGrone. When asked about loved ones, his eyes speak first, lighting up when referencing his mother, fiancée or other family members who helped him get where he is today, even though he did take the road less traveled.
"Growing up, I was lucky to have a lot of people around me who loved me and supported my ideas about my future, but no one was an engineer. Most of my family were teachers, and that's because it was a family-oriented profession," said LaGrone. "Because of the way engineering used to be, I was taught as a kid that to be family-oriented, I could not be an engineer. Family is important to me, so I took it to heart when I was young. But as I got older, and met people in the field, I saw that wasn't always true," he said.
LaGrone is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, working full-time in Planning & Engineering after recently completing his college co-op program at AEP. Ultimately, he chose to pursue his position because he felt the company culture matched his values.
"One of the reasons AEP caught my attention was that during my internship interview, my (now) boss told me that AEP is a family-oriented company, and work-life balance is important. This spoke out to me, and made me feel like we had the same values," he said.
LaGrone shared that like many young students early on, his athleticism kept him busy outside of school. He loved sports and played football and baseball for his high school, but those were not his only activities.
"My mom put me in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs growing up," said LaGrone. "I kept saying I wanted to be an engineer from seventh or eighth grade on, so she signed me up for multiple robotics teams. I also participated in calculator challenges. I was number two in the whole state of Texas for how fast I could use my graphing calculator," he said.
LaGrone looked back fondly on his early days. "The funny thing was how I really knew this was my path. After a while, I'd be at football or baseball practice, and I'd be missing the STEM club meetings! In my mind, I wished I was doing robotics instead. That's how I knew," said LaGrone.
"Something I would want to remind younger people is that there is more to life than what you see every day. Just because your family members have followed a certain career path, doesn't mean you have to do the same thing. You can carve out your own path based on what you want to do. You are your family's legacy, as one of my teachers taught me. I think that's important, and you should see all the options available to you," said LaGrone.
LaGrone participated in the AEP co-op through his college Prairie View A&M University, where he was also "Mr. Engineering." Previous to AEP, he took on summer internships in the desert heat of Alamogordo, New Mexico with the Department of Defense. He worked on a two-person team providing engineering support on a military base. He was challenged to work with quantum physics, even though he studied electrical engineering, and learned that "just because you are an electrical engineer, you may not have electrical engineering work."
"One of the main lessons I learned through my co-op and internships was that you have to think outside just the electric engineering work, look at the big picture and think how it is all connected...I think for me, engineering has always been about helping people, so I try to think, 'Will this help people?' with everything I do," said LaGrone.
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