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Focus on the Workforce: Preparing Future Engineers for Day One on the Job

 Chris Kahlich







By Chris Kahlich

Finding the right engineer with the right skills is often a difficult feat for companies in the advanced manufacturing Industry. Even harder to find are welding engineers ready for automated welding applications in manufacturing. Many engineers graduate from college unprepared for the real world demands of a specialized field.

One company that has taken a proactive approach to equip the next generation of engineers with skills that match their needs before a job offer is ARC Specialties (Houston, TX). A designer and builder of automated manufacturing systems, the company has spent years cultivating future engineers through involvement in high school and college students’ academic careers. This proactive approach includes mentoring US FIRST Robotics Competition high school teams, donating automated welding systems to universities, and helping promising candidates with internships and scholarships.

Ithamar Glumac, 23, is one of the latest new hires at ARC Specialties that proves the approach is working. Glumac is a welding engineer from LeTourneau University, one of only a handful of universities with a welding engineering program.

ARC Specialties had success finding welding engineers from LeTourneau, but identified that students would be more prepared for Day One in their careers if they had access to an actual automated welding system on which they could gain hands-on experience. The company donated one of its systems to the university, and Glumac was one of the first wave of students with access to the new resource.

ARC contacted university professors for input on promising students interested in a career in automated welding. Glumac was one candidate mentioned, but he stood out not only because of experience with the donated welding system, but also because of his involvement in the US FIRST Robotics competitions throughout high school and colleges.

For years, president of ARC Specialties Dan Allford has worked with US FIRST robotic teams as a sponsor and a mentor by hosting robot-building workshops at ARC’s main manufacturing facility. By working side-by-side with students, Allford and ARC engineers have been able to train students for the challenges and requirements that would await them if they choose a career in advanced manufacturing.

Glumac was a robot driver and a chief engineer for his team during high school, and a volunteer for US FIRST robotics during college. Glumac and Allford undoubtedly crossed paths many times at robot competitions, though they did not know each other at the time. Allford had recent success with hiring another engineer that was from a robotics team sponsored by ARC Specialties, so when he learned that Glumac was also involved in robotics competitions, he knew Glumac fit the model.

Ithamar Glumac, 23, is a welding engineer from LeTourneau University, one of only a handful of universities with a welding engineering program, and a new hire at ARC Specialties in Houston, TX.

Glumac interned with ARC Specialties in the summer before his final semester at LeTourneau. During his internship, Glumac continued R&D work started by ARC on a new method that could change the way manufacturers test weld quality, and decrease rework of parts with defective welds.

Glumac’s research focused on analyzing cross-sections of welds, and calculating a ratio of the area of all inclusions found in the analyzed area in relation to the total area analyzed. The ratio is called the IR number, or inclusion ratio number. Glumac was able to quantify how much margin of error exists within the welding practices that created a weld. Basically, if a cliff’s edge was failure and welding a bad part was falling off that cliff, the IR number quantified how far away from the cliff’s edge manufacturers stood using their current welding practices. The goal is to replace typical industry practices that only produce pass/fail results.

Impressed with Glumac’s tenacity, ARC Specialties granted him a scholarship at the end of his internship. In his final semester, Glumac continued his IR number research between classes. In November of 2012, ARC Specialties invited Glumac to join the company at the FABTECH Weld Show in Las Vegas to give a presentation on the progress in his research. Upon graduating, Glumac accepted a job with ARC Specialties as a welding engineer in the company’s engineering & consulting services division.

Currently Glumac is continuing his research with the IR number, working with various wires, gas mixtures, and welding practices. In one of Glumac’s tests, the IR number for a wire sample was outside the accepted tolerance and was sent back to the wire manufacturer. The wire manufacturer was later able to pinpoint that an ultrasonic cleaning system had malfunctioned while the wire was in its final cleaning process.

Since hiring Glumac, ARC Specialties has continued to mentor high school robotic teams and make their equipment accessible to students interested in automated welding. Last summer the company finished an internship with another promising candidate who came from a high school robotic team sponsored by ARC Specialties. After priming the candidate with skills needed for day one on the job, ARC Specialties is optimistic he will be ready for success when he graduates. ME

Chris Kahlich is a technical writer for ARC Specialities, Houston, TX.

This article was first published in the February 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF

Published Date : 2/1/2014

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