My first big project

Here I am, an early college grad stepping out into the big kid world and working for Setpoint Systems. Right off the bat I was assigned to work on a brand new project for the company. This new project was unlike anything Setpoint had ever done before. Everything about this project was brand new. Luckily I was put under the wing of Steve our senior Applications Engineer. He helped me take this seemingly complex machine and break it down into bite sized chunks which could be easily handled.

After months of design work and drafting, most of the parts had made their way into our shop. It didn’t take long until the machine was partially thrown together. Obviously the machine wasn’t perfect right away, and parts needed revising. There were also delays on critical components. It almost felt like waiting for Christmas, though instead of Santa Claus I had to beg purchasing & receiving for my goodies. The big day finally came and the unit made its triumphant entrance onto the set with loads of damage due to shipping problem, and on top of that the power which we had anticipated to work for the unit would not work… And the wait continued.

Meanwhile Brad our CEO had his eye on my little project. He of course noticed that all the parts for my machine were finally in and only one thing remained, when would the machine run. On Tuesday, Brad decided to mosey on over to my desk and ask me a very simple question.

“Raleigh, when am I going to see this machine run?”

Of course being somewhat blindsided by his presence and question, I fumbled around a little bit.

“Give me 30 minutes and I’ll tell you when this machine will be up and running.” was my response.

So I dashed about, trying to get a hold of any of my key players. First off I needed to make sure that the power to my machine was finally wired. Luckily the wiring had just been finished the afternoon before. Next I needed to see if I could get some programming and assembly time. Luck was on my side, and I was also able to get their help. After I got confirmation from these two, I approached Brad at 30 minutes on the dot.

“Brad I can get this machine up and running on Friday.”

“By lunch on Friday?” Brad inquired.

“Yes, by lunch on Friday.” I responded.

So for the next two days I buckled down and got to work. It must’ve been a good week, because luck remained on my side. During the whole assembly/debug process no bugs were encountered. Thursday evening eventually came around and I had the machine cycling. I made sure to check, double check, and triple check every little sub assembly that I had on the machine. The reason being was that if any part were broken we were facing a minimum 5 week lead time to receive a brand new part. Of course I didn’t want my first designed and assembled machine to break such valuable tooling on its very first run. I finally developed the confidence and showed Steve the working machine.

“Well let’s throw a part in the machine and see if it actually works.” Steve said.

He then began to call up all the bigwigs. It wasn’t long before there was quite the little crowd gathered around my machine. There was now only one thing left to do, drop a part into the machine. Hesitantly I dropped my hopefully lucky part into the apparatus, and placed my fingers on the go switches. It felt like my stomach was up in my throat. It felt like eternity as my machine went through its processes. Finally the machine’s cycle came to an end and it appeared as if it had successfully made it from point A to B without any hang-ups. Mark our president reached into the bin and pulled out one well transformed part. The adrenaline kicked in, and I could feel my hands shaking, it was so exciting!

I was so excited, not only that my machine worked but also that I was able to keep my word and not only get my machine working on time but to also have it up and running before I promised it to be. I was once told “there’s no shame being on time,” well I know that I feel pretty proud I was able to get my first project running early. I can safely say that this accomplishment would not have been anywhere near possible without the help of my wonderful and talented coworkers.

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