So what do you think OJT stands for?
With all the acronyms and text shortcuts thrown around these days, it could be anything from Orange Juice Tea to Outside Job Truck. You might know it stands for On The Job Training. Many of you have experienced it, and hopefully it worked out well for you.
For me, on-the-job training happened in the time before fax machines and beepers, and just after flint tools and saber tooth tigers. Yep, it was the 70s. The prevailing notion at the time by many in industry was that a college degree was a waste of time, leaving grads with only a theoretical knowledge that had to be scraped away and replaced with real working knowledge via hands-on labor in various areas of the plant or jobsite while being yelled at by an ex-drill sergeant shop supervisor who didn’t like namby pamby college boys one bit. OK, maybe that was just my experience, but the conflict was definitely there. In general, colleges and universities didn’t train engineers and designers in practical situations, and manufacturers and builders weren’t offering a bachelor’s in Press Break-ology or PhDs in Sheetrock-etry. So what’s an eager young man to do with time and opportunity?
I took the idea of OTJ by the horns and made it my own starting with my first stint at my dad’s company. After learning every machine in fitting/welding, the machine shop, forming shop and blast and paint (Oh yes, I just loved wearing all that protective gear and shoveling 500 lbs. of steel shot in to the recovery chute every hour in 105 degree heat), I discovered what I liked and didn’t like, what I was naturally talented at, what made me hurt more at the end of the day (watch this pretty blue light, Oh no, if you aren’t doing the welding you don’t need a hood…haha) and what made more money. I gravitated toward machining because of the variety of tools, and also because I loved running the enormous punch presses and making the whole building shake.
We got to do some interesting R&D work for NavSea Engineers on experimental and prototype gear for Navy ships. This is what really got me interested in new product development and pushed me to learn more about different materials and processes. I learned that there was a lot more to learn, and re-visited the other departments I had worked in with a more earnest desire to soak up the info and put it to use.
Photo courtesy of: Tetra Pak