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As a small child, Daniel Appiah-Mensah loved Lego’s®, designing and building structures with the various sized toy bricks. As he got older, he took to the problem-solving nature of video games. By the time he was 12, he was taking apart and rebuilding his toys. It’s not surprising that as a young adult he was drawn to a career in engineering.

“I got inspired at a young age,” said Daniel, who earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical-mechanical engineering technology and master’s degree in manufacturing and mechanical systems integration, both from Rochester Institute of Technology in western New York State. “I love the design process.”

He moved to North Carolina last summer to put his talent and education to work with HURST Jaws of Life as a Mechanical Engineer. Daniel designs rescue tool prototypes and accessories as well as pictorials for tool assembly. On this day, his computer monitors show a variety of engineering schematics, but he won’t tell us exactly what he’s working on. “Something new,” is all he’ll say with a slightly mysterious smile.

Born in Africa, Daniel and his family lived in Australia and London then back to Africa again before making the United States home. He says he’s enjoying North Carolina and the easy access to the mountains and the beach, both of which he’s looking forward to exploring.

His focus now, though, is on rescue tools. He settles back into the engineering department, which is well organized and holds little for distraction. The dry erase board is clean, too, except for one hand-written sentence, perhaps giving some insight into what drives this young engineer. It says simply: “Choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”