WCI; My first Eng. job, the big challenge; Chapter I

21 Apr

Regardless of the advice from my school professors, I started working as a manufacturing & methods engineer, & in fact was quite happy about it too till it hit me! I was in suburbs in New Jersey, living all alone on my own, for the first time ever in my life! I was a city girl with dependency on family & friends. Next thing I noticed was the factory environment; It really was a huge place, with several feeder departments & assembly lines. It took me a while, but I got used to working in a factory, & started listening to heavy presses hitting on the progressive dies, as if I was listening to a heart beating, & enabling life.

We had a large office, open space with several engineers, sitting there all around, I don’t remember how many drafting tables, but we had them in the same space, very industrious, professional, very simple, & of course I was the only female engineer. Company hired a female drafts-person for the design engineering department upstairs, later.

Regardless of the difficulty to adjust to the change of environment, I was quite excited & happy about my new job, & was more than happy to spend 12 hours a day, without overtime pay. They exposed to me to politics without any hesitation,  a senior engineer got into a fight with our boss & was transferred to purchasing department to spend his last few months (before retirement) there! He was a very bitter, straight forward old-timer who hated our manager who wanted to turn the company around & change working standards, remember his name, but!

My boss asked me to take over his responsibilities, the biggest one was the paint line, where we cleaned the stamped/pressed parts, prepared them for painting & painted them, & dried them in an overhead oven in a very old electro-deposition paint system. The line was painting all our metal parts for room air conditioners, real high moisture & scratch resistance standards. I first got introduced the lab technician who was on our tail all the time, taking samples & running tests to make sure that we are in control of the process & the quality, then the operator who would keep the line in shape. All was well, till I learned about the issues, & how this line had to be baby sit, so it would keep running. Stopping the operations, producing poor quality meant sending 600 (est.) assembly line operators home, or at least having them stand by doing nothing!

I learned from the paint (PPG) supplier that our operator was sloppy, & the Parker Chemical Supplier gave me more specifics on variables that the company had left in the hands of the operator, & few months later, while supervising (already!) contractors, they showed me how many weld patches the 2000 Gallons tank had, to convince me that it would be their fault, if tank did not hold up! Next thing I knew was the phone call at 4: 00 AM, the Chiller on the roof, the one that keeps paint mix cool was down, & asked me to get there ASAP, or they had to shut down the plant!

I make a long story short, within a year, I had a section of line replaced, yes the line was needed for production, & I was there 4 AM to 10 PM, overseeing the action, & of course it was a real challenge for all of us. By third year I had started looking into replacing the entire line.

I  have so many memories about this line, it was the closest thing to my kin at the time!!! Oh yes that is what I wrote, my country was at war, right after a revolution, my parents had forgotten that I existed, trying to survive the revolutionaries,  & war; I had moved to NJ suburbs all on my own, trying to proof that I was better than male engineers, I had never before lived all alone, hell I use to take make girlfriends with me on my dates as chaperons, when I was in DC!!

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