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Old 19th December 2012, 02:34 PM   #11
M Gregg is offline M Gregg  United Kingdom
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So here is another take on it,

Does practical ability limit your career..No we do it to ourselves.. its because you feel safe working practicaly and its hard to go and do the training on subjects you hate like paperwork and learning how to do a spread sheet and presentations stood up in front of a group of people..Costing and taking responsibility for others...

People that perhaps are not good practicaly may have to do this route because they can't follow the other practical one...It also might mean that you can't do things you might like at work testing and fault finding..limited now to a hobby.

I asked a manager about this issue he said you have the same chance to follow whatever route you see fit..so don't mone to me about shifts and hard work!
The problem with you is you think to much..make a decision and do it! We don't owe you anything. you work we pay you..thats it!

Doing hours of paperwork for exams...assignments...etc if you had this ability as well you could move on easily. If you think its a rat race in a practical job, then you need to go back to school and do what you hate then remember its preparing you to do what you hate in a job you might not like..

Management make stupid decisions..well only if you don't know the whole story..Here is an example..while on the shop floor the company was looking at closing..so the management replaced a door and put in an expensive roller shutter door, it cost thousands to change all the brickwork..how stupid I said..


I moved up the ladder a few days later..I asked about the door..here was the answer..we have a budget for the door..if the company changes its mind and stays open they are talking about running another product and it won't fit through the old door..so if they stay open and I don't change the door they might not be able to run the product. The money won't be there at that point to change the door so I might have caused the company to shut because it can run the product at another factory site not at this one!

Yes you go home at night but you can't sleep (stress)... unless you are lucky and have a great job..(perhaps lower down the ladder).


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M. Gregg
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Old 19th December 2012, 05:01 PM   #12
SY is offline SY  United States
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I'll stick to my practical skills, such as they are. If I didn't have them I'd have to go into management, and that would be awful!!
Eh, it's not so bad. On the negative side, I've spent the past couple of days preparing Employee Development Plan forms. But on the positive side, when everyone is gone, I have a Rohde & Schwarz 20GHz network analyzer, a Hitachi SEM, an R&S spectrum analyzer, several Tek DOs, and a CNC mill to play with, and I don't have to ask permission.
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Old 20th December 2012, 02:59 AM   #13
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I have spent the last 40 years working for Motorola. I started as a technician on the end of the assembly line tuning up and assembling HT220's. Practical ability was not an asset. You were supposed to act and work like a machine....for $3.57 an hour (1973). $3.57 /hr with overtime and 60 hour work weeks was a lot of money then, but the work sucked. The average length of employment was about 3 months. Those who couldn't "make rate" were terminated and those who could got tired of it. I lasted about a year and a half as a factory slave.

I heard about an opportunity in the test equipment lab, applied for, and got the job. It seemed that no one wanted it. You carried a walkie talkie (the HT220) and patrolled the factory. If anything related to test equipment broke, you fixed or replaced it. Practical ability, or often, just the ability to think, was a BIG asset here. The guy that had the job before me screwed things up more than he fixed them. It took me about a year, but I got the HT220 factore running smooth. By then they had launched new products, and new factories. The Handie Com, the MX300, the MT500, Expo and the hybrid modules and components that went inside them....all made in the same factory. I worked the 4PM to midnight shift, went sailing on my Hobie Cat off Ft. Lauderdale Beach in the morning, and showed up for work in shorts, a tank top and flip flops in the afternoon. Life was good.

I would walk through the factory when I got there, ask each one of the day shift bosses if there were any issues before they left, fixed everything by 6 or 7 PM and had the rest of the evening to play in the lab. At the height of manufacturing there were about 50 people in the test lab during the day shift, and 4 of us at night. We might have spent a bit of our spare time building things too, need parts for a home made computer (6800, 6809, 68000) or awesome solid state stereo, just ask the Semiconductor sales rep, we made that stuff too!

I had the reputation for being able to figure stuff out (you know that practical ability stuff again). We built all the microelectronic modules for out two way radios and these new things called cellular phones (1980's). Remember the big white brick phone? We also has a SEM. It took up a whole room.

Some guys had flown in from Arizona (processor chip manufacturing) to examine some components for contamination. The SEM didn't work, so they went to the test lab for help. The day shift lab guys said to call the manufacturer, but the night shift lad tech (me) might be able to fix it. The guys in suits were surprised to see that the second shift lab tech looked like a beach bum, but damn he fixed the SEM. I got all the 6809's and SRAM's that I could stuff into my computer for that one.

By this time I had advanced to the highest tech rank in the company, and the top of the pay grade, and there was nowhere to go......except management...yeah they wanted the beach bum to be the boss.....NFW. I needed to find a new job. I had worked in the lab for 10 years, but the gig was about up.

There was an Internal Opportunity System where one could search out available job openings, and apply for them. Getting the job was a different story. Several of my friends had found out that it was nearly impossible to move from the night shift to the day shift since everyone knows that the night shift guys are all just a bunch of druggies and losers. It was also hard to move out of a factory or factory support group for the same reason. Engineering was for the elite. I started filling out applications, and either being rejected without an interview, or given a BS interview and then rejected....24 times. I Even wallpapered my desk and little corner of the lab with the rejection notices.

I go for interview #25 with a guy I had never met in engineering, It was an engineer job, and I had no formal education, so I had ZERO chance, but I needed some more rejection, so why not. Hey, this was engineering, so I derss up.... jeans, a T shirt, and real shoes. The interviewer spots my "Camaro" belt buckle, and starts talking cars. It seems we both had 1968 Camaro convertibles. I had ditched the worn out 327 for a 350 and installed a Muncie 4 speed. There was never a technical question, or any mention of electronics. Much to my, and my bosses surprise, my "practical ability" had gotten me a job offer.....Thats right, I became a real electrical engineer. Engineering degree...WHAZZAT. Within weeks, I was designing circuits that wound up in shipping products, and I was promoted within a year.

After about 9 years of designing radio circuits, I had hit the wall again. The economy had flip flopped a few times, hundreds of engineers had been laid off, and it seemed that the few non-degreed engineers remaining were on the hit list. A discussion with the bosses left two possibilities. Management...again, NFW, or education. Education????

You mean you want me to go to school....ME???? Yes, they wanted me go to to college...at 37 years old, college? Yes, College, not just me, but 6 of us. OK, let me get this straight....I get to leave work, and got to the local college campus, act like a college kid, and GET PAID for it....DEAL! Sign me up. 6 of us started 4 dropped out, and were eventually laid off. I managed to pull off a 4 year degree in 3 years. I did not go to every class, and I wound up teaching a few of them because the teachers had no "practical ability". Solder...WHAZZAT. Yeah, I tought the 22 year olds how to solder....and blow stuff up too! This college stuff was hard work, but a lot of fun too. Got my degree, and a promotion too.

I bounced around from engineering department to department, and in just about every division of the company that was ever based in Florida. Why? to keep on learning new stuff. I even let them buy me a Masters Degree too. I worked in the paging division and saw that one dying, so I jumped into the cell phone division.....Those guys were WAY too into Powerpoint and other management BS, so I left (just it time) and joined an advanced development group that invents the future. Been there about 12 years. Its cool stuff.

Every job is something different. Our department is made up of mostly high level speciallized engineers, mostly IC designers. They can simulate and calculate circiles around me. But just today I had to explain ground bounce to two of them. The world will always need a small group of people who can figure stuff out on their own. My boss does not tell me what to do, I figure out what isn't getting done in our group, and go do it. Usually that involves testing or demonstrating out chip sets.

Here I was given the specs for an LTE RF power amp. I designed it, build the prototypes, and am torturing it to near death!
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Old 20th December 2012, 03:50 AM   #14
cotdt is offline cotdt  United States
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What a great story, George!
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Old 20th December 2012, 09:15 AM   #15
M Gregg is offline M Gregg  United Kingdom
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Great refletion George,

Yes I started as an apprentice back in the 70's electrical engineering..mainly contactor switch gear, and DC drives..with closed loop control..everything from fitting conduit to test and fault location for 5 years..then dumped on shift with 11kv and 6.6kv control systems +Xray..I got fed up with it and a few of the X apprentices were asked if they would like to work in the electronic dept the catch was on shift(read the electronic tech didn't want shifts)..I talked to the electronic guys and they said listen..if you do this we don't mind what you build for yourself or what you do just keep the plant running..so I accepted on the condition the company would fund courses I wanted to do so I could escape from the electrical Dept and into the electronics as an equal. They agreed! This lasted over 20 years until a chance came to move into management before the plant closed. So I retrained again with Assessing electrical engineering and H&S quals followed again by more training for Cert Ed and so it goes on..looking back over 36 years so far and still training..its a PITA

I guess the bottom line was that I was lucky that the electronics were going on shift or I might not have had the chance..+all the older guys in Electrical Dept had little experience with electronics which was also my childhood hobby.(So I was the target for new equipment installation)My thoughts are that you have to "go and get it" stay where you are and you will watch the years pass as I did for 15years before I had enough..

Regards
M. Gregg
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Old 21st December 2012, 03:02 PM   #16
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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George, I dont know if you intended this, but that was/is a very motivational story and just in time!!

thanks!

Jeremy
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Old 21st December 2012, 03:14 PM   #17
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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.....and I don't have to ask permission.
Management does have its perks. BTW, didn't know you had moved up.

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Originally Posted by tubelab.com View Post
I worked the 4PM to midnight shift, went sailing on my Hobie Cat off Ft. Lauderdale Beach in the morning, and showed up for work in shorts, a tank top and flip flops in the afternoon. Life was good.
Sigh.... Sounds like my life on Maui. 4PM to midnight, shorts, Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops.

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...since everyone knows that the night shift guys are all just a bunch of druggies and losers.
Well duh!

Great story, George, thanks for telling it.
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Old 21st December 2012, 03:55 PM   #18
Cassiel is offline Cassiel  Libya
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George, I dont know if you intended this, but that was/is a very motivational story and just in time!!

thanks!

If a beach bum can make it, why won't you?

Moved to tears but getting ready for my night shift.
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Old 21st December 2012, 04:29 PM   #19
M Gregg is offline M Gregg  United Kingdom
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Moved to tears but getting ready for my night shift.
All the best..hope its a steady one...

Yes the witching hour 4.30 to 5.30 in the morning..the whole world seems to change (easy things get hard)..The holidays are close hang in there..

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M. Gregg
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Old 21st December 2012, 04:33 PM   #20
SY is offline SY  United States
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Management does have its perks. BTW, didn't know you had moved up.
I cheated- I came in at the top. A story some of my friends here know, about how this happened:

I was living down in Austin, working at a research firm. I was contacted by a recruiter to take the top technical management spot at a large company in Chicago- she was very specific that they needed someone who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. OK, that doesn't sound too bad (I hate being chained to a desk). I was prepared to answer lots of questions about what I could actually do, besides just manage people and projects. After acing a phone interview with HR and the R&D manager, I flew up to be interviewed by the GM (same as a managing director, for you Euro types).

He had arranged to pick me up at the airport and then take me to lunch. After my lunch interview, I was to have a series of interviews with managers from the other departments. The GM picks me up, we load my suitcase and travel bag into the trunk of his impressive BMW, and I get in the car. As we're pulling out of the airport, he remarks, "You know, I googled you." I think, "Uh-oh." Then he grins broadly and says, "I'm totally into vinyl and tubes. Think you could help me put a nice amp together to replace my Cary?"

I got the offer halfway through lunch before doing any of the other interviews.

Just goes to show, you never know what odd hobby might open doors.
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