Ben Hurd, Electrical Engineer on Motorcycles

Hi, my name is Ben Hurd, and I am an RF/MW Engineer at a contractor north of Boston. RF/MW is a subset of electrical engineering that focuses on radio and microwave frequency technology, such as radar. I design, build, and test devices such as Filters, Up/Down Converters, Pre-TR/TR tubes, Limiters and other devices that fall under the umbrella of Control Components. While attending Northeastern University, I had a Co-op at my current employer and found that the work is interesting and challenging with opportunities to learn every step of the way. I enjoy having the ability to split time between doing some bench work as well as design work.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Connecticut and ended up here after attending Northeastern University in Boston, MA. I applied as Music Industry, switched to Physics before even signing up for classes, and then switched to Electrical Engineering after taking enough Physics to decide that I did not want to major in it, but still get a minor in it.

My life outside of work consists of my friends, my cat, and, most importantly, my motorcycle. I ride whenever I can, within reason. If it is too cold or raining I do not tend to ride, but any other time, and I am on the bike to pick up a few things at the store or just cruise my way up the coast.

When I was younger, I always liked motorcycles. They look cool. They sound cool. My Dad and my Grandfather both grew up riding them, and they were the ones who inspired me to get one. When I was a kid, I would see my Dad’s Motto Guzzi in the garage and pretend ride it. Sometimes I would take trips in my Grandfather’s sidecar as well. I always wanted one since those days, but I never seriously thought about it until 2015 when I decided to just do it.

Ben testing out of his father’s Moto Guzzi circa 1998

Riding is a great outlet for me because I find it so relaxing to cruise around with no destination and no worries. It can also be exhilarating and empowering when pushing what you and the bike are capable of doing. Riding around in Boston at night is relaxing since there are few cars out – that is if you do not mind putting around at 2 AM. I also love riding around Western Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, since there is a plethora of winding back roads and highways. An outlet of any kind is beneficial to any career as well as life in general. Keeping a good work/life balance, and a way to keep good mental heath, can benefit all aspects of one’s life.

Since I ride around so often, I end up having some pretty interesting stories of my times out and about. I have also had a lot of close calls. People from Massachusetts are notoriously bad drivers. Typically, I get a lot of people pulling out right in front of me. Once, when I was riding to class, someone pulled out to try to make a left turn and waited to be let in, not seeing that I was coming. I ended up stopping less than a foot from their driver door. They just stared at me as I made some hand gestures. Another time I started to slow down to make a sharp left turn, and someone crossed the double yellow line behind me to pass me on the left and came a little too close for comfort and ended up almost clipping my front end.

When riding in Boston once, I was just cruising around when a group of 20+ riders filtered to the front at the stop light I was at, and then subsequently ran it all together with half of them pulling “dank whoolies” – what some riders call illegal and dangerous wheelies.

“Sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something” – Jake the Dog. RF/MW and Motorcycles are both things that you can always get better at and find some way to improve your skills. Learning what works, what does not, and how to consistently get what you want are important steps to success. Some of these skills are started in University, or in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), but there are other resources available. For motorcycling, MSF offers advanced courses, or you can go to a day at a track to practice. RF/MW books, seminars and graduate degree programs are easily found. There is a necessary amount of training and safety precautions that goes into both, and learning those is just the beginning.

If you are thinking about getting a motorcycle… just do it. Take a safety course to start, even if where you live does not require you to do so to get a license. It gives you a chance to try riding in a controlled environment without making a huge investment if it turns out its not for you. If you do like it, you can spend your days like I do: planning which motorcycle to buy next. A bigger Harley? A 70/80’s Sport Bike? A track only Bike? Decisions, decisions…

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