Jack W. Lewis

Author and Engineer


Page last modified: September 08 2018 12:33:31.

About Me

Short Version

Jack Lewis has had successive careers as a U.S. Coast Guard officer, marine engineer, corporate CEO, software developer, horse breeder/trainer, textbook author and, late in life, a registered nurse, volunteer paramedic, and washtub bass player in an oldtime string band. He lives with his wife and two long-haired cats in the middle of Jefferson National Forest in rural western Virginia, in a county that didn’t quite make the cut into West Virginia. A history buff, he has had a decades-long fascination with the American Civil War. This is his first novel.

Long Version

Mountain HomeI live with my wonderful wife in the Allegheny Mountains about 45 minutes northwest of Roanoke, VA. The mountains have always been my "home". There, among the trees and wildlife, I find the peace and quiet that allows me to pursue my love of trout fishing, writing, and many hobbies.

Lewis FamilyI was born in a coal mining village in southwestern PA the last of six children. I grew up playing, hiking and fishing in the nearby mountains. When I was 13, my family moved to Beaver Falls, PA where I attended Beaver Falls High School. A first course in science got me interested in engineering so I took all the math and science courses they had. When I graduated, I won the school's Physics Award and had straight A's in all math and science courses. I wanted to go to college, but my family couldn't afford to send me. So I entered an apprentice millwright program where I gained practical experience building equipment and earned enough money to start college the following year.

Mountain HomeDuring the year I worked as a millwright apprentice, I competed for and won an appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy (CGA) located in New London, CT. There I studied engineering and other subjects. I received a Bachelor of Science Degree with honors and a commission as an Ensign in the US Coast Guard. While at CGA I found that I loved engineering. I studied hard and graduated at the top of my class in all engineering subjects.

After four years at sea in deck and engineer officer assignments, I was selected by the Coast Guard to attend graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA. There I studied ship design and mechanical engineering with a major in automatic controls systems. I graduated from MIT's Graduate School with honors and received two degrees: Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and a Naval Engineer Degree (two graduate years required to get these "Engineer" degrees).

Arctec, Inc.Following my MIT graduation I was assigned to the US Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC where I designed polar icebreaking ships. Following that assignment, I decided to resign my commission (at the time I was a Lt. Commander) and start my own consulting engineering business. I spent 25 years as a consulting engineer designing instrumentation and control systems for oil and gas exploration and transportation systems in the Arctic seas, North sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. The last company I helped start lives on as BMT Scientific Marine Services.

RNs and EMTsAfter that, I went back to school again with my wife to study nursing at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, something we both found very interesting after becoming volunteer emergency medical technicians (EMTs). We are both Registered Nurses (RNs) and EMT Instructors in Virginia. While my wife went on to get a BS Degree in Nursing, I went to Central Virginia Community College for a year of study which led me to become a Nationally Registered Paramedic.

I love to learn new things and I love technical challenges. I've been a programmer all through my engineering career and I still find programming a challenge. All of my future books will use my programming skills as I develop interactive widgets for the iBooks about automatic control systems. Like the author Norman Maclean, a river runs through my life. In 2017 I finished my quest to flyfish the Top 100 trout streams in America.

Now I am continuing my learning by writing a trilogy of novels covering the Civil War exploits of my paternal great-grandfather, Alexander J. Swaney ("AJ"), who spent most of his time riding with Cavalry General John Buford as his orderly. In 1997 I wrote a history of my other paternal great-grandfather, Joseph Paul Lewis. Turns out that AJ and Joseph joined the same 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War. AJ's daughter and Joseph's son are my paternal grandmother and grandfather. So I guess I wouldn't be here writing this if it had not been for the Civil War.