CEO, PDS Technology
BSME ’67, BBA ’67, UW-Madison
Each year, the College of Engineering recognizes outstanding alumni during Engineers’ Day—a celebration of engineers, held on Homecoming weekend. Arthur Janes is among the engineers we will honor in 2018 at an Oct. 19 banquet.
After beginning his career as an engineer with companies that included Boeing, Lockheed Propulsion and others, Art founded PDS Technology. Over the last 40 years, the company has gained recognition as a leader in engineering staffing for such industries as aerospace, defense, machinery, energy, technology and more.
We are honoring Art as an accomplished entrepreneur and corporate leader who successfully founded and grew an engineering and technical staffing company.
Recently, we chatted with him about everything from his memories as a student at UW-Madison to his career and hobbies. Here are his responses to some of our questions.
What was your favorite engineering class?
I love thermodynamics. It was always a challenge; the professor had these odd problems to figure out—like there is a satellite up in space and then given all the parameters of radiation, et cetera; of course there’s no convection up there but, given the energy transfer methods, what would be the ambient temperature of the satellite. So he used different problems like that, and it really fascinated me. I just loved it.
Who was your favorite engineering professor?
Metallurgical Engineering Professor David Josef Mack. In my junior year I was taking one of his metallurgy courses and doing quite well in it. He offered me a paid job as a lab tech, joining his team of mostly graduate students working on a Rexnord Corporation research grant. As the only undergraduate student in class offered this job, I considered it a high honor. I’m extremely fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to have attended Professor Mack’s class and worked for him. He was a fantastic teacher and leader with a quick wit, engaging personality, easy temperament and great sense of humor, making learning and working with him very enjoyable.
How did your experience in the College of Engineering shape your career?
The big change for me coming out high school was the independence that I had; you kind of have to kick in with self-motivation to be much more accountable and responsible for my school work and my career and my future. And I think that gives you a lot of self-confidence that you really can go out on your own and be out there and be successful.
Of what professional accomplishment are you most proud?
I think building the company over 40 years makes me feel the best. We employ a lot of people, giving them good jobs, especially in the technical area. Watching them achieve things that are beyond my knowledge right now, technically, in the area of software, satellites, and all sorts of things that weren’t around so much when I was youngster in college. I think it’s that success of the company that’s given me the most pleasure, and the people who are here working and how talented they are.
Who has played key role in your achievements?
I think my parents played a large role because they were always encouraging, had good advice (although I didn’t always follow it), and were always behind my career, whatever I would do, they were always there to support me.
What advice would you give current students?
I would encourage them to strongly consider graduate school. Outside of academia, I think it gives you tremendous advantage in promotions and in a choice of areas to work in. So one thing I did not do is go on to graduate school when I had an opportunity there at Madison. And then the next thing would be if they’re going to work for a company to go with the company that does what you want to do best. In other words, if it’s a design company that does a particular thing, go with the best one that does that so you can learn the practice of engineering.
If you could pick a major outside of engineering, what would you choose?
I’d probably go into physics. I like physics and I think in engineering, we deal with a lot of physics. When I was in school, I took an atomics physics course that I really enjoyed.
What are your hobbies?
I like to be very active outside. I like to jog, I ski, I hike, and I like do a lot of active things outside of work. I like to ski in the Rocky Mountains. I enjoy traveling; we have some work in Japan and I love to go to Asia. We also have some work in Europe and I love to go over there and hang out as well.