Professor Owen has worked as a design engineer since the start of his engineering career in 1978. He was then employed by J. Ray McDermott & Co. (New Orleans) as a design engineer for mechanical systems and piping aboard off-shore oil platforms. After receiving his masters degree he worked for Advanced Marine Enterprises (Arlington, Virginia) on the design of ship-board systems and the design of CAD software for designing ship hulls. From there he went to General Electric's Medium Steam Turbine Department (Lynn, Massachusetts), where he designed steam turbine rotors and wrote software to automate this design. At Computervision Corp. (Bedford, Massachusetts) he wrote CAD software for various design functions. In his first teaching position at Maine Maritime Academy (Castine, Maine), he taught as a professor in MMA's Yacht Design Institute. He also worked during a summer assignment at Asea Brown Boveri (Baden, Switzerland) designing and writing code to design the mounting feet for steam turbine blades.
Since coming to Cal Poly, Professor Owen has been active in the design curriculum, connecting it more closely with industry-sponsored projects and expanding it from a 1-quarter course to a 3-quarter, design/build/test course.
He has also served as an expert witness in two personal injury lawsuits that revolved around the faulty design of an industrial system and a consumer product.