Monday, June 19, 2006

Been a while? Sure. Doesn't mean anything has changed.

Yes folks, I've successfully allowed this stupid thing to lapse for a year and a half. After a promise to update it more frequently. Doesn't exactly inspire a lot of trust, does it?

Well, I'm gonna try it again. I've got a few ideas now, and given my line of work, I should have a fairly steady stream of things to write about.

So, a brief recap first.

I graduated successfully in May 2005, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After dinking around for 7 months or so, with a few scattered job interviews for things I wasn't really interested in, I came across my current job. As of March 2006, I began working for Danfoss Bauer, division of Danfoss Inc, which probably means nothing to anybody. We are an international company that designs and builds electric motors and gearboxes for industrial applications, and my function there is to work with customers on various projects and figure out important things like power requirements, transport speed, powertrain layout, duty cycle, service factor, etc, and then figure out how to best solve their problems using the products we have available. It's relatively interesting and a nice integration of a lot of things I enjoy doing, on top of the fact that the office itself is a terrific place to work, and all of my co-workers are great people and it's a lot of fun every day.

So, having been with the company for a few months now, it's getting to the point where several projects I started out working on are now in the construction stage, and some are actually being used in their respective industries. For instance, one of the first projects I was involved with was to spec out the motors and gearboxes required for pumping water for a fire control system that monitors a large portion of the Panama Canal. This is currently undergoing installation and testing and seems to be working fine. Another involved wastewater and turbine control for a large water plant in Canada, and as of now the plant is fully operational and our products have been installed for a few weeks. A third would be an overhead transport crane that moves a nuclear weapons sensor around objects needing to be scanned for entry onto military bases. As far as I know, they are very happy with their machine and will be ordering more in the future.

If you notice, I'm reluctant to give any sort of permanance to any of these projects. It's always working 'as of now' or 'seems to be fine'. You see, I haven't quite gotten used to the idea that things I'm doing now are actually being used out there in the world. People are depending on the conclusions and recommendations that I've made, and are putting a tremendous amount of faith (and financial investment) into these recommendations. It's kind of a scary thought. We try and build in a certain factor of safety (both to cover those using the machines, and also to cover our asses in case we mess something up "a little bit"), but it's still always nice to hear good news - or no news, as the case may be. A lot of times we'll ship out a completed gearbox and motor without any feedback from the company as to whether it worked or not. You learn to accept this as a good sign. And more often than not, if it worked, we'll get another request from the company a few weeks or a few months down the line, because so far everyone has been very pleased with what we've given them.

It's also a little nervewracking to know that there are people out there for whom I'm now the 'go-to' guy for this stuff. People who call up every few days with technical questions regarding our products or geartrains in general. People who are involved with projects at their own companies using our stuff, and want to know about limitations or parts availability. I've established a very good working relationship with a lot of mechanical engineers at quite a few companies across the country - maybe you've heard of some of them: Daimler-Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, ConAgra Foods, Boeing, and Hewlett-Packard, to name a few.

So after four years of engineering school, six months of general contracting, and a lifetime of tinkering and designing things for myself, I'm doing stuff for the real world now. Call it growing up, call it responsibility, call it life - I just look at it as another stop on the same road I've been traveling all along.

Seriously, I'll try and stick with this thing. I like writing (can you tell?) and I like sharing this stuff, even if there's maybe only one or two people who will ever read it and enjoy it for what it is. Thanks for reading this far, and if you're new, check out the previous entries too.


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