The second post in our “New Talent Series: Why Engineers Come to Aero Gear” is written by Pat, a Materials Engineer, who has been with us since 2013:
My engineering career started a little differently than most peoples. While many engineers are tinkerers when they are young, my love for engineering didn’t begin right away. Luckily universities offer an “undecided” major because it wasn’t until college that I really knew what I wanted to do.
Entering my freshman year at UConn, the early goal was to get into the School of Business. After taking some general education classes like economics and psychology, and later falling asleep in class a few times, I changed my mind.
I found a perplexing major doing research online called Materials Science and Engineering – I wasn’t really sure what it was all about. Like most people, when I think of engineering I think of bridge builders or airplane designers. But no, materials engineers were the ones that laid the groundwork for those other guys. Without them, we might still be making cars out of wood or blimps out of flammable cloth.
Truthfully, I have enjoyed every minute of it. During school, I was able to use high powered electron microscopes (SEM) to see things at the nanometer level. I saw surfaces that looked smooth under the naked eye actually looked like mountain ranges under 10 million times magnification. I used x-ray machines to see the structure of atoms and to perceive things that I had read about, but never seen. During an internship in Germany, I even helped develop a coating that was as hard as a diamond yet resisted cracks and didn’t shatter if it failed. I thought it was so cool at the time.
Now a few years later, I’m still just as excited about engineering as I was when I first started school. At Aero Gear, I deal mostly with the heat treatment of gear steel. The work that I do is all done at the nanometer level: dealing with atoms, crystal structures, thermodynamics, heat transfer, and especially microstructures. Although you can’t see them with your naked eye, they are vital to the performance of a gear. Without proper heat treatment, an engine would rip apart a gearbox, and the processes and temperatures we subject the gears to ensure that they are hard, strong, and can withstand the extreme forces that a jet engine or helicopter will place on them during service.
Working at Aero Gear has been a great experience. The work here forces you to think and problem solve, often times for many hours and over the course of many meetings. Once you do reach a conclusion however, it is satisfying knowing that you solved an issue. This is why I chose this job. I started in 2013 and was hired to implement our new low pressure vacuum carburizing furnace. Being able to do lots of research, development, and challenging myself is what I wanted from a career. Some jobs are boring, and this is not one of them.
In the future I hope to pursue my Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering and Aero Gear has given me the work experience to excel in the industry.