In honor of National Engineering Week we took the time to talk with some of the engineers here at ABTech. We wanted to find out how they got the “spark” that made them want to go into this field.
“As far back as I can remember I always wondered how things worked and I took everything apart when I was a kid. All my toys, bikes, appliances, neighbors snowmobiles, motorcycles, whatever I could get my hands on. If the toaster stopped working my Mother would give it to me to dissect and see what went wrong and it kept me busy and out of her hair (sometimes). I probably didn’t put much of it back together the original form and I was always looking for ways to tweak things to make them better. Do you remember Sid in the toy story movie? I was that kid! I used to build model cars, then fill them with fire crackers, launch down the street and blow them up into a million pieces. I was in heaven!!!! I would then start over and build some crazy custom buggy with the extra pieces.
As I got older, in middle and high school it was a clear choice for me to go to an Engineering college and obtain the training and skills I needed to make a living at it. I still enjoy the creative aspects of product design, the troubleshooting and problem solving aspects of Engineering.”
– Ken Abbott – Mechanical Engineer
“Hmm, my start in engineering probably goes back to teenage years when I developed a love for British and Italian sports cars. Since both had a penchant for quirky electrics, it became obvious early on that, in addition to enjoying the mechanical work, I needed to learn about electronics. Once I graduated college I was determined to stay in Vermont rather than move back to the big city. Not too long after graduation I landed a job with a machine tool re-builder rebuilding, maintaining and retrofitting mostly milling machines, screw machines and grinders of various types. I did all the electrical work in addition to mechanical work.
This led to a job in engineering with a firm that built machinery used in the printed circuit board and plating industries. With my experience in electrical maintenance and retrofits I went to designing control systems, writing PLC programs and developing HMI software for use with our products.
Now I work here at ABTech enjoying a variety of electrical and related work and trying to keep up with technology is always changing.”
– Chris Lundberg – Electrical Engineer
“From the time my family got our first computer (a Hewlett Packard i286), I spent numerous hours trying to figure out how to use DOS. I got pretty good at it, and would often help my parents with the computer. We eventually upgraded to our first Windows machine, at which point I immediately dove into how to use Windows proficiently. It got to the point that I became so good with computers (they were relatively new at the time) that the librarian would come to me and ask for help when the computers in the library weren’t working correctly. This love of computers continued through middle school and high school, and I took my first C++ programming class later in high school. My buddy and I also programmed our first text-based adventure game in Basic on a computer in his parent’s basement. Programming didn’t entirely click with me back then, but the brief experience I got with it only added to my life-long love of working with computers and fixing problems.
Later on, after a career in IT in both the military and the corporate world, I decided that I wanted to go to school to back-up my already established work experience with a diploma. It was then in our Computer Science classes that I realized just how interesting programming was; building software from lines of code to become something really usable and substantial. My final project in my advanced programming class was a bi-directional, multi-threaded chat application, which really showed me just how powerful programming could be. It was then that I realized that I was actually good at it and really enjoyed the problem solving aspect. I realized that I could make it into a career, which lead me to working here at ABTech as a software engineer.”
– Michiel Byington – Software Engineer
“My story starts at a young age as well. As far back as I can remember I watched my dad work on his cars, four-wheelers, motorcycles etc. I grew up wanting to be just like him, learning how things work, and being able to fix anything. He has this desire to always improve, whether its fixing up an old car, or motorcycle, or building something for his house. It’s a passion that drives him and fills him with pride, a trait and passion he has instilled in me. I was always trying to take toys apart and put them back together. I remember one Christmas I got this little RC boat and after a few minutes of playing with it we decided that it was too slow, so he wired up a cordless drill battery to it and it was way cooler!…. For about a minute until the motor burnt out and stunk up the house! Fortunately, there are a ton of stories just like that, making for a childhood packed with fun and learning.
This passion to understand how toys, cars, (really anything mechanical) works and to improve them or create new and improved versions of them, carried me through to studying mechanical engineering at UNH, and eventually to becoming a Mechanical Engineer here at ABTech. I am grateful that the work we do here is very challenging, pushing the envelope when it comes to accuracy and problem solving. This allows me to learn new things every day and gives me the freedom to create and experiment with new designs and/or ideas.”
– Chris Abbott – Mechanical Engineer
“I have always asked “why” and wanted to know exactly how things work and how they could be improved. I still take things apart just to figure them out and put them back together! I have a picture of myself at two or three years old crouching down in the driveway next to a car as it was backing up – apparently talking about how the car could move and stop. As I got older and the toys got bigger I enjoyed fixing them as much if not more then I liked to play with them. As the toys started to have engines I loved modifying them to go faster, and it was more than just buying a product that claimed to do that, I wanted to understand how this part could accomplish that claim.
Through many crashes and broken parts I was exposed to welding and metal working which lead me to the manufacturing world. I was fascinated with how something so “tuff” like steel could be so easily molded into just about anything if you had the right tools so I took all the metals and machining classes I could as well as the Automotive program at Keene High. This lead me to my first job in manufacturing which got me to Keene State for their Sustainable Product Design and Innovation Program. This program was the obvious choice for me because of how “hands on” focused all the classes were. The program always made us ask “why” and the projects always made us figure that out and make improvements, just like I still love to do. The toys only continue to get bigger and more expensive, but the fun of making them faster and understanding how to do it has only grown! “
– Joe Breckell – Technical Sales/Applications Engineer
“Growing up in a small New England community somewhat far from the reaches of entertainment offerings of urban life we developed means to self-explore and entertain ourselves, friends, and family. Little did I know at the time I was learning a great deal about problem solving… whether it was related to road building (civil engineering), water control and dam building (hydro engineering), tree house construction, or tinkering with mechanical systems such as bicycle or lawnmower repair. There was always something to do that involved working with our hands and minds with nothing greater to achieve other than the satisfaction of getting something broken to work as it was designed. Early in my life my Father had been a radio and TV repair man, I remember going on service calls to neighbors homes and watching him as he replaced vacuum tubes and made adjustments so as to restore the black and white imagery of the TV’s in those days. As I progressed through primary education, I delved into electricity and its fundamental theory. As I was approaching my High School graduation, an unexpected call from an Army recruiter offered me the opportunity to refine my direction as a profession… I signed up for 4 years of service gaining more fundamentals of Electrical Engineering as a missile systems repairman. I became fascinated by computer technology at the time and how something electro-mechanical can perform arithmetic or yet guide a missile some 1100 miles. From that point onward, I only imagined the possibilities of what modern day computer and electronic technology could do and how I might use these tools creatively to solve problems whether it be a need for tracking my checkbook and savings activities or automating an aluminum can crushing device for recycling. Attaining my Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering expanded my knowledge and exposure to greater array of how the world uses electricity and computer systems as problem solving solutions.
Now that I am 30+ years into my chosen engineering discipline and technology has evolved faster than I am able to keep up with, there remains much for me to learn which is something I welcome. My current development is in data extraction, systems simulation, and production support activities. Far from the specifics of electrical engineering… yet leveraging knowledge gained on how to solve problems as far back as from the years I was in that small town in New England making roads or adjusting the spark plug on the lawnmower.” – Warren Davis – Electrical Engineer