My Early Days As An Electrical Engineer
My first engineering job out of college was with ITE Circuit Breaker Co. I designed motor control centers for industrial purposes. The work involved taking the specs for the job's motors and designing a panel of breakers and switches to make them do what the specs required. I can't remember my boss's name, just his face. But the older engineer (about 10 years older than I was) who taught me the ropes was named Green, I think it was Charlie Green.
He really taught me a LOT about what life as an electrical engineer is all about. There were six drafting tables in our cramped, low-ceilinged room. I worked in the middle on the left (as seen from behind) and Charlie was at the back right table. Once we did all of our calculations and selected the equipment required, we would then have to draw very detailed (down to the size and placement of every screw hole) plans for the shop to fabricate.
One of my jobs was to design the control center for some new exhaust fans to be used in New York's Liberty Tunnel. I designed it. Our shop built it. Dozens of people inspected it. We shipped it. They installed it. And when the switch was thrown to activate the first large motor, the panel exploded in a huge short circuit. Unfortunately, this actually happened during the same 30 minute period as when the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 took place. Our panel, MY panel, was initially considered a possible part of the cause of the problems that caused the blackout. After many days and nights of panic on my part, we were cleared of all culpability because it was discovered that the contractor on the site had installed the wrong motors, not the ones that the specs set out and that I followed. Whew!!!!
At the time, I was working full time with a flex schedule that allowed me to carry a full law school class schedule along with work. Charlie Green taught me a lot of things, and I think about him often because one day he came into work with his calculations for how much of his life had been and would be spent just bending over his sink in the morning waiting for the water to get hot. We played hearts every day during our 30 minute lunch break, and I still enjoy that game.
The Chronicles of Lorenzo - Volume 1
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