Tell me a little about yourself and your career with The Gleason Works.
A week after I graduated from high school in Rochester, New York, I started my career at The Gleason Works, entering their Associate in Engineering Training program in 1966. It was a four-year apprenticeship where the trainees worked six- to eight-week blocks in manufacturing, assembly, engineering, sales, etc., while attending classes at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). At the end of the program, I graduated from RIT with an associate degree in applied science. After the apprenticeship, I continued going to night school at RIT and received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
Last July, I celebrated my 50th anniversary with Gleason. Over the years, I’ve held different positions within Gleason, mostly in the area of application engineering and management. My current role is senior product/project manager for machines manufactured at The Gleason Works.
I’ve been involved with AGMA since 2001 when I was asked to serve on the Technical Division Executive Committee (TDEC). In 2013, I was asked to chair the TDEC.
What are the benefits to being an AGMA member?
There are many benefits to being an AGMA member, starting with access to all the AGMA standards. Then, there are business development events, including the Strategic Resources Network (SRN), which is a forum to help people grow within the industry and the association. AGMA establishes market research reports, salary surveys, and the annual meeting and offers a wealth of educational opportunities. Members have access to online workforce training classes and webinars. Getting involved on different AGMA committees is a great experience not only for the individual but for their respective companies as well. Finally, there is the Fall Technical Meeting (FTM) where authors present papers on a variety of gear-related subjects.
How were you involved at the recent 2016 AGMA FTM?
The technical division of AGMA puts on the FTM every year. This year, there were five sessions, and each session was moderated by a TDEC member. As part of the FTM, there’s an awards luncheon where the AGMA technical division recognizes the committees and their chairmen that have published a standard or an information sheet. For me, one of the fun parts of being chair of the TDEC is presenting the awards. The people on the committees work hard, and it’s all volunteer work, so it’s great to recognize them when they complete and publish a standard. I’ve also had the pleasure of giving out the TDEC award, which is given to individuals that participate in AGMA committees and have made contributions to advance the state of the gear art for the benefit of all gear manufacturers.
In the last 50 years, what have been the biggest changes?
When I started in the mid 1960s, the machine tools were mechanical machines, and they had elaborate gear trains. It was mind-boggling to see all of the gears that were in these machines and how everything was mechanically connected. Today, all of the machines are CNC and actually have very few, if any, gears in them. So it’s crazy when you think about it … gear-producing machines with virtually no gears in them. That’s been a huge change.
The other big thing is how productive our machines have become — one modern machine can easily replace four older machines. Also, the cutting tool materials and coatings have advanced significantly, and that’s still evolving. The same applies to grinding wheel technology.
What amazes me most about the machines today is what we can do by means of software. With CNC machines, creative cycles are programmed to improve productivity and quality. In addition to cutting teeth, you can add a chamfering/deburring operation to the cycle. Grinding machines can polish the teeth after the grind in the same chucking. It’s not only the machine and process software but the advanced gear design software that can simulate gear behavior as a single component and as part of a complex transmission.
Another example is tool-less quick change. Today, the operator can change tools and workholding without using any tools — something we could not imagine a decade ago.
How do you see the industry addressing the skills gap?
There are things in place to help resolve the skills gap. You will see a rebirth of apprentice programs similar to what I was involved with in the 1960s. In addition to engineering programs, I believe there will be more apprentice programs focusing on machinists and technicians.
Gleason has a program where we hire degreed engineers out of college, and we put them through a specialized one-year intensive program in the key areas for gear design and manufacturing. After completing the program, they are placed in different areas of the company. That’s how we are approaching it now. I see talented young individuals in many areas of our company who are producing for us right now, and I’m very pleased about that.
AGMA has also taken a role in filling the skills gap by offering educational programs and tools to member companies. Also, many companies have established training programs of their own. Gleason has a training department and offers classes to the industry throughout the year. We’ve recognized the need to continue to feed the industry with knowledgeable gear engineers and technicians.
After retirement, will you stay involved in the industry?
I will be retiring July 2017, and I hope to stay involved in some way, but I don’t have any firm plans right now. Looking back at my career with Gleason, the experiences, the travel, the people I’ve met, plus my involvement with AGMA, it has all been a real blessing to me, and I am very thankful for Gleason’s support over the years. I just love the people in this business — it’s been a great ride.