The Most Influential Course I Have Ever Taken

Donald Mielke, BSE 1967, Retired Attorney

As a graduate of the Aerospace program as well as a Science Eng degree that year and Project Manager of the fifth senior Systems Design Course (Aero 483) conceived and conducted by Professor Wilbur Nelson, I wanted to share about the most influential course I have ever taken. It was the Aerospace Systems Design Course and ours was Project SPECTRUM (Solar Probe Experiment Created for Technological Research by the University of Michigan). The Apollo fire took place during the class and Ed White, one of the astronauts killed, was a student and friend of Professor Nelson. Professor Nelson’s comments and guidance, especially to the systems approach of working together with all disciplines, interfacing design from a total systems viewpoint, rather than one individual component, including understanding concepts in other fields and how those interact and always communicating and sharing, have always been part of all the professions I have had. He felt that if the environmental engineers changing the atmosphere to more oxygen had worked together with the structural engineers using and adding more flammable velgro, the fire could have been avoided. Professor Nelson’s comments of “check it out and be personally fully informed”, “do not rely on others opinion, understand the concepts” and “plan for the future-do not react to the crisis,” have been with me in all that I do.
Since graduation I have had many professions. Systems engineer at GE Missile and Space, Valley Forge, PA, working on ATS NIMBUS for NASA and spy satellites and MOL (Manned Orbiting Lab) for the Air Force, which was cancelled as a conflicted with NASA’s Skylab, which got me to Colorado with Martin Marieta, the systems integration contractor on Skylab. At GE I got my Masters in Engineering at Penn State. In Colorado at night, I got a Juris Doctor and over 1/2 an MBA. I practiced law as a “systems attorney” on and off for 40 years. I was elected a State Representative, chaired the Judiciary, Rules, and Legal Services committees over 6 years. I wrote and sponsored over 50 bills and 200 amendments, amended the Colorado Constitution twice and was part of the original group to implement the 27th Amendment to the US Constitution (Colorado #11 in 1984 of 39 states ratifying, with Michigan the last in 1992).. I continued practicing law, but since I know the legislative process and politics was a lobbyist for 15 years also. I have been a “systems legislator”. I have been on many drafting committees, chaired Uniform Victim’s of Crime, and was active in the drafting and adoption of the Uniform Emergency Health Practitioner’s Act (drafted because of Hurricane Katrina and the lack of cooperation, communication and recognition of other states health licenses slowing and stopping emergency health responses to the hurricane) and currently on drafting committees on Commercial Real Estate Receivers and the revision of the Uniform Athlete Agents Act. I am a “systems legislative drafter.”
My wife, Susan and I love to travel and so I combined everything and became a senior visiting professor for the Center for International Legal Studies and taught a seminar on American business Law with an emphasis on uniform laws at Lazarski University in Warsaw Poland.

This post was written by
Comments are closed.