The summer following my first year of college I worked for Siemens Automotive as an operator making plastic car parts. It was a “foot in the door” job, in hopes that it would turn into an intern position with engineering the following year. Minute after minute (and they were long minutes) of the same repetitive task was difficult to get through. I stuck it out nonetheless, and ended up working in engineering the following summer. Looking back, experiencing automated manufacturing first hand as an operator was a wonderful opportunity to gain some perspective and an appreciation for what it takes to keep production going.
There have been many more valuable experiences since then. I worked for a company who designed and manufactured injection molding machines, supporting the assembly of control cabinets. During that time we implemented lean manufacturing to cut inefficiencies out of the process, reducing the lead time of a control cabinet from two weeks to two days. From there I moved on to Northern Power Systems working on a variety of projects, many of them involving alternative energy. I worked with the design team on the development of a 2.3 MW wind turbine. We built two prototypes, and I got to climb the 100 meter tower into the nacelle to perform some tests. Alright, maybe there was an elevator built in to the prototypes, but it was still a long ride up. It was a great feeling of accomplishment to see the majestic wind turbines generating power. Nobody likes to see a wind turbine that is not “spinning”. To see one producing electricity thanks to the rhythm of Mother Nature as well as a talented and committed design team you were a part of, now that was satisfying.
All of those valuable experiences brings me to where I am today. I have a much clearer picture not only of what I don’t want out of a career, but more importantly what I do want. Working for Hallam I get a lot of what I want. There is so much goodness wrapped into this company such as, new challenges and opportunities to learn; supportive work environment; freedom to work independently; mutual respect among coworkers; flexibility; a workforce dependent on each other for success (we are 100% ESOP!); a workforce you can feel good about depending on; strong leadership with good values; and the list goes on. I also find it energizing to work on a variety of equipment, and processes. From day to day I could be helping a customer make coffee, ice cream, infant formula, transdermal patches, etc. Thank goodness the basics of control systems stays the same.
The people at Hallam are probably the greatest perk of all. They have been a welcoming group, and as time passes relationships grow stronger. From working long hours together during a startup, to off hour activities such as hiking the presidential traverse in the White Mountains (and hitting MOST of the peaks), the time spent together working towards a common goal is what connects us. The connections also extend out to those we serve. Between being in Vermont and the Automation & Controls world being relatively small, a familiar face can be found behind most doors we walk through. Many times the work we do is not just delivering a product or a service, but rather working with our customers to accomplish the common goal of a successful project. In doing so, new connections are created, and existing ones are solidified. That is what brings work to life, and life at Hallam is good!