Thursday, August 16, 2007

Popping my Cherry, so to speak..........

OK Everyone,

Lalita invited me to contribute to the totalteam blog and I accepted. I thought, "Yeah, it's about time to put my toe in the water of the blogosphere".

My wife keeps asking me, "what's the big deal about blogs?" "Why do people do it?" "What's the point?"

All good questions. I have been reading a number of blogs for a brief time and have found myself learning from people that I had not even known before.

So for me, sharing what we know, expressing what we think hopefully forwards the ball in the game of life. Sorry for the sports analogy, I am NOT a sports fan, but I figure everyone seems to get sports analogies.

OK, here I go!

I have been around the block once or twice and not necessarily the same block. I started out my engineering education as a Biomedical Engineering major, worked as a lab assistant to earn my work/study grant money and learned welding and machining as part of the job.

Junior year of college I come to find out that in 1976 no one wants to hire biomedical engineers, no less understand what they did. So I changed majors to another obscure major, Fluid and thermal sciences, a subset of Aerospace engineering. Why fluid and thermal science? It was the one major at Case Institute of Technology that accepted my biomedical engineering courses and would let me graduate with only 1 extra semester, instead of 2 or more.

I was hired by the infamous General Electric in what was then called Installation and Service Engineering as a Field Service Engineer. I was hired to maintain, overhaul and construct large scale commercial power plant equipment like steam turbines, gas turbines, and all the related knick knacks associated with them in power plants. Sort of related to my degree but not really.

I loved the work. Who wouldn't love erecting machinery components that weigh hundreds of tons! Running crews of tradesmen as large as 150, managing projects as much has $50 million dollars almost right out of college???

I did hate living in motels, however, and oh yea, working 7 days a week 12 to 14 hours a day for months on end. I used to average over 3000 hours a year worked. A bit much for even a youngster.

Seven years on the calendar, and what felt like 20 years of my life later, I left GE and field service. My local management would never let me take an office job, or transfer to an office job in another region, "because you are too valuable to us in the field running projects", they would say. So I had to quit once my health started suffering. I had three hospitalizations my last year with GE field service. It apparently wasn't a powerful enough indicator to them that I needed to get off the road.

So I left. I went from huge noisy, dirty powerplants, with a bunch of roughneck tradesmen to, of all places, Avon Products plant in Cincinnati! At the time there were 1300 employees at the plant. 300 of them were men!!! Let's do the math...............1000 women, 300 men?!?
Hmmmmmmm, a big change for me. Plus suits and ties were required and I was no longer going to be paid for over 1000 hours of overtime a year. BIG CHANGES EVERYWHERE.

There are some stories there, but we can get into them some other time. Let's just say that after two years I moved on. The next job lasted a little over a year, and the next one about a year and then I ended up at Cincinnati Milacron as a Senior Project Manager. Great job, impressive talent, incredible products, terrible management. That lasted almost 2 years, and then hard to believe it, I ended up back with the General!

I ended up at GE Aircraft Engines as a Staff Engineer in their develop test group. I got to work with really big noisy machinery again, roughneck tradesmen again, and working for Thomas Edison again. (GE was originally the Edison General Electric Company).

I lasted in that environment about 9 years and again, in typical GE fashion, I was not allowed to move to other positions or up, "because you are too valuable to us in your current role". Hmmmmm, that sounded awfully familiar. After much gnashing of teeth and meetings with HR I was finally released and transferred over the the Facilities Engineering group at the same 6.5 million sf facility in charge of all the mechanical plant systems, HVAC, steam, chilled water, etc.

As I had a bunch of experience in this field it was technically pretty comfortable, but with cost cutting and dozens of layers of management I was suffocating. They finally gave me a break!

They laid me off in 2002. That's how I ended up at the University of Cincinnati. They were building a new power plant, they didn't have anyone who knew how to build one, I did and the rest, as they say is history.

Along with the job stories above there was a marriage, 3 children, a divorce, a remarriage, a step son, being trained to lead programs by Landmark Education, teaching at the UC College of Applied Science since 1988 and a few other items, like winning a grand prize at the Sculpture Center in Cleveland and going from a tool box in my garage to a 5400 sf studio where I have completed large scale architectural sculpture, wrought iron railings, synagogue and church commissions, and have spent many an hour covered in grinding dust and breathing welding fumes, but I would replace them for the world! Check it out:

I guess that's droning on enough for now.......more later. I bet Lalita will be shaking her head over inviting me to contribute.


Lalita said...

Welcome aboard, Ray! Let's see what mischief we can generate.