I read the title of this post and cringe.
Where was my brain the day I wrote that in my profile??
Yes, I am a welder. NO... I am not microscopic. Sheesh.
I will leave it as written in the hope that it will keep me humble.
Some folks have asked that I include some personal info on my blog, so I thought this might be a good place to start... what I do for a living.
I work for a manufacturing company in Florida. I weld... under a microscope.
The engineers also call this type of welding metal fusion. GTAW.
It isn't like the type of welding you see done in a body shop, although I wouldn't mind knowing how to do that too.
One department makes bellows and seals for companies that make machines that make computer chips.
However, the department I work for primarily makes bellows and seals for the aerospace industry. I take great pride in the jobs that I work on. Why?
Because most of the aerospace jobs are critical components in assemblies that can affect the life and safety of the people who use them.
We make fuel drains for Lockheed and other customers. Needed for in-flight fueling of military jets.
We make components that are part of the pilot ejection system.
Yet another, a bellow for the PAC-3.
Fluid accumulators for NASA shuttles... they change urine into potable water.
Then, there is part of the assembly that controls the wing flaps on commercial jets.
Another assembly that is part of the fire detection system in the cargo areas of commercial jets.
One of our newest customers is a major oil rig manufacturer.
The job I work on most often is part of the system that signals when the oxygen mask drops out of the ceiling of a jet and dangles in front of your face. It's called an air breather valve.
This bellow assembly is made of stainless steel. The parts I weld... under a microscope... are a mere .0015" thick. The inside diameter is less than half an inch across, the outside diameter is less than one inch across. Thus... the need for the microscope. And, precision and dexterity.
The thickest material we weld is a mere .009" thick. Other than the hardware, which might be from 1/8" to 1/4" thick, that gets welded to the bellows.
Did I mention that paper is about .003" thick?
I've been doing this job for eleven years.
I've had other jobs in other areas of manufacturing, to include... metal stamping, plastic injection molding, quality control, emergency first aid (because my first college major was nursing), CNC operator for the bolt carrier for the M-16, and tester of electronic detectors.
Four different companies over a twenty-three year period.
I also spent nine years working for the local chapter of the National Safety Council.
I started as a part-time instructor (because my major ended up being education). I taught five different driver improvement classes. Oh, yeah... the ones everyone loves to attend when their license is suspended or, right after getting a traffic ticket or a DUI... and a special class for senior citizens so they can get an insurance discount.
After four years of teaching, I was hired as a department manager for traffic and occupational safety. I got to hire and train other instructors, among a gazillion other things.
I've also waitressed, tended bar, worked at a country club and... one year of subbing at a high school. The one job in my life that I liked the least?
I wrote obituaries for the local newspaper.
It wasn't the job itself that I disliked. It was the people working at the paper. Some of the most cold-hearted and egotistical humans with whom I've ever had to associate.
I was working there the day the first shuttle blew up. I was on the beachside that day and witnessed it. A horrible sight. When I got to work that afternoon... a mere two hours after the tragedy... people at the paper were already making jokes! I don't think I stayed more than another month after that.
Manufacturing has been a major component of the economy of this country... forever.
Unfortunately, that has been changing drastically.
It has been a major economic component of almost half my life.
My father was a machinist for Goodyear for 31 years. He wanted me to go to college so I wouldn't spend my life in a factory, like he did.
I graduated from college in 1974, and still ended up in manufacturing.
I'm not sorry.