Cobham

The most important thing we build is trust

 

You get the chance to break things intentionally, to figure out how they mesh together and introduce something new. It's a constantly evolving path with so many things to learn

Overview of your current role and when you started at Cobham

I have been with Cobham officially since June 2012, but took part in a summer internship in June 2011.

I currently work as a process engineer for the Thin Film and Packaging groups with a little dabbling in Environmental Screening.  My job is to provide daily production support to my areas, work with and train operators, troubleshoot/replace machines, and pretty much try my best to make the process as efficient and error proof as I can.

Why did you choose a career path in engineering?

Growing up my dad exposed me to the wonders of engineering through Legos and Mindstorms, taking things apart and putting them back together, going to battle bot areas to watch robots fight, and so many other things.  Because of those experiences, I’ve always been fascinated with moving parts, machinery, and small things being put together to make something complex.

Engineering encompasses all of that and more; the chance to learn, the chance to play with things, the chance to break things intentionally to figure out how they mesh together, and the chance to take something that has been accepted as “this is how we do it because it has always been done this way” and introduce something new. It’s a constantly evolving path with so many things to learn that can be frustrating at some times but so rewarding other times.

Looking back, what are the highlights in your career so far?

It may sound small, but one of my favorite parts of working here has been being able to buy new machines/test out new technologies for the facility.  I love the opportunity to do my own research on systems and technologies related to the project, be able to travel to demo different systems and figure out first hand whether they will work for our process, come to a decision on which machine is best, and eventually actually see it working in our facility as if it has always been there.  It gives me satisfaction to know that I did my research to make sure we got a good machine instead of purchasing the first one that would just satisfy our basic needs.

On top of that, I love being able to find ways to make processes easier for people.  One of the most recent equipment purchases I made was for a semi-automated cleaning machine that took the place of a manual cleaning/outsourced process.   Not only does it help reduce ergonomic risk, it is also on track to save more than 15X (~$73K/year) compared to the costs associated with the previous cleaning method.

Another one of the best things about working here is having a boss that not only supports my growth, but also encourages my interests if it is helpful to the company.  For example, I saw the potential benefit of some new fixture designs within one of the areas and suggested some proposals to my manager.  Consequently, I was allowed to work with SolidWorks to design basic fixtures even though that wasn’t in my job description. 

A working experience of learning how to deal with daily problems and work with other teams is also a highlight to me in my career.  Cobham is more of a unique company because it follows more of a cradle to grave sort of manufacturing plant.  This means parts that are designed in house in the beginning are followed through to production to the very end.  This also means you get to learn to work with folks from all areas of expertise (mechanical, electrical, planners, buyers, manufacturing, test, continuous improvement, etc). You just can't learn a lot of this in college and it’s a privilege to get to work with more experienced folks who are willing to help mentor you along.

What are the major challenges of your job today?

This also refers back to the “this is how we do it because it has always been done this way” ideology.  A lot of people’s natural tendency is to dislike change because it put them into an unfamiliar place.  This can be true in environments such as work, so working with people to implement new processes or machines and making sure they understand what they are doing can be difficult but rewarding.

What’s next?

Automation (or semi-automation).  I want to bring automation to the processes that are repetitive tasks. I want to save people’s fingers from being cramped in the same position for long periods of time because they do the same thing over and over. I want to explore budding technologies that may be useful in our business.  I want to streamline processes and make things more efficient and repeatable.

Why should people consider a career at Cobham?

I have really learned a lot more than I could have expected during my 6 years at Cobham.  I have grown from being a new college graduate to putting actual helpful input into projects to now leading projects with my manager’s confidence. I have not only learned about new technologies, but I have done actual R&D on these new technologies.  I have gone from theories learned in college to actually working with the real process on the floor at Cobham. I have learned about working as an individual, as a team, and as a part of multiple teams over an array of professions.  Cobham is big enough to have a wealth of experience, but also small enough that there are lots of experienced engineering and management mentors to help you if you ask for it.  I’m encouraged to expand into things I enjoy learning about (if applicable), and at the end of the day, I have the satisfaction of knowing that our parts are actually helping to make a difference in the world.

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