While my testimony provides the story of my internal motivations, this page is more a look at my external influences. This is the story behind the story. I have found that most people just shouldn’t put their picture on the web, if you take my meaning, and I probably shouldn’t either, but here it is. After a long time of not having it here, I decided that I liked seeing pictures of other people on their web sites so much that I brought it back.
My weight has always been a source of irritation with me. I had always thought I was “fat” because of genetics until one day when my pastor’s wife asked me if anything of significance had happened when I remembered getting that way. It was then that it struck me that I started overeating in 5th grade, right after my grandfather had passed away. He meant more to me than anything. When I graduated from Jennings County High School, I weighed in at 255 pounds. For being about 6′, that’s just too much. In college, I roomed for a time with a workout-aholic in college named Mike, from just outside Boston. He was definitely one of the most fun and most interesting guys I ever knew.
Well, enough of him must have rubbed off on me that I got motivated to do something about it. I eventually got down to 173 pounds the summer after I graduated college, mostly through aerobics, but due also to swimming, racquetball (I was really quite good), and the tortuous Stairmaster. Of course I had some definite moral support from my two best friends at the time, Tom (Capt. Kirk) and Ed (Spock, or “Wheels”), both from “the Region” (i.e. around Chicago) and both burgeoning body builders. (Yeah, I was the comedic relief, Bones, which was funny because Wheels and I should have been reversed. All three of us agreed that Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn was the best movie ever made. I still did up until The Matrix.)
I graduated in the spring of 1991 from Purdue University in Lafayette, IN with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. It was a watershed day; my father did the same thing in ’67. I thought about going back for a Computer Science degree because I already had all the math, science, and humanities electives filled, but the financing didn’t come through, and I found work as a production MIG welder at Toyota (fork trucks, not cars) for about a year and a half. See, I wanted to design jet aircraft engines in California for the defense industry when I got out of school. However, George Bush decided to start trimming back the defense spending we as a country had committed to under Reagan, and literally thousands of engineers who were doing exactly what I wanted to do had been put out of a job. Little did I know at the time that God had something to teach me through working at Toyota.
When I finally got over my pride in thinking that I was “above” working in that job, I felt in the Spirit that I was leaving. Two weeks later, I had a new job for almost twice the money at Arvin as a test technician. I got to learn how to overhaul an engine, which, interestingly enough, along with welding, I always wanted to learn, even back in high school, but was unable to because I was taking all the “college prep” courses.
Understand I had worked at Arvin for two summers while going to school. Thankfully, there’s a lot of nepotism there, because my dad has been an engineer there for over 30 years now. Thanks to the Lord, after only 7 months, I finally got my first engineering job at GrimmerSchmidt Compressors. The company had just been sold when I went onboard, and there was a contractual obligation not to let anyone go for one year after the sale. Well, that year came and went, and so did a bunch of us. But I have no regrets; it was really a good experience.
Lucky for me, God was already opening a door for me to go back to work at Arvin, for the fourth time. I got on as a mechanical engineer in the Ford Business Group. I did Finite Element Analysis and computer programming and administration. I passed up an opportunity for twice the money in Detroit and another for a lot more here in Columbus because I didn’t think there was a better place to work on the planet.
Next, I took a job as a Unix network administrator for the Advanced Engineering Group. I reorganized their loose confederation of a few UNIX machines into a real NIS domain, centralized all the management and software, installed a WinFrame server, and doubled the size of their network.
Then I was promoted to be the Product Data Management Administrator. I designed and installed the structure of Arvin’s PDM system, which was based on Metaphase. The tough part of the job was the administration of the application which was a nightmare. On the other hand, I got to do both Unix and Oracle administration, which was a blast, and which, should something happen to Arvin, can get me a job almost anywhere. The job was most cool because I had total control over all the technical aspects of the project. However, this part of the story has a somewhat bittersweet ending.
Just before we were to “go live,” after lots of requisite delays, Arvin merged with Meritor, a spin-off of Rockwell. Meritor had their own PDM system based on a product called MatrixOne. Early on in the merger activities, it was apparent that no where would the effects of the merger be felt more than in our mutual information technologies departments. So, our CIO made some decisions up front about what technologies would be used where. It was decided that the “Arvin” ways of using NT as the file-and-print platform and Exchange as the messaging platform (as opposed to Novell and Lotus Notes) would be used. However, the “Meritor” way of using Oracle Financials for business systems and MatrixOne for PDM were to be used as well (as opposed to IBM’s JDE and Metaphase).
So, the PDM group was basically broken up and sold off for parts. My former boss was put in charge of “Graphics Systems, Exhaust, North America.” My coworker found a place in the B2B group. Another good friend basically took over what would have been my job had I stayed. I took a position with the corporate IT group as a Unix administrator. I set up a rather large environment at the old Arvin datacenter. Even though I was responsible for E10K’s and EMC disk arrays, there was a lot about the job I didn’t care for, so, after several months, I jumped back to working with my old group in engineering.
After I went back to engineering, I’ll be frank: I “wandered in the wilderness.” I wrote some cool software to support product development and IT operations, but what little of it that was actually used by end users was forcibly scrapped by selfish management decisions. I got pulled back into PDM support, where I did some good low-level data-handling code, but, basically, I was just a pawn in a very aggressive corporate power struggle. Having a good PDM system was an afterthought compared to getting it stuffed into as many different businesses and as quickly as possible so that users would be subjugated by it, and its manager would be in charge of more installed user base.
After 3 years of selling off the bits of Arvin after the “merger of equals,” all that was left of the original company was the OEM exhaust division, which was sold off to a private equity firm. At first, I thought this was going to be an astoundingly good thing for me. I would once again be the system architect, and my management was behind the idea of scrapping the system and starting over from scratch. It was going to be a return to the previous heady days of PDM! Ha ha ha. Right. In fact, all the technical work that I was doing was going to be split up between the systems group and the web programming group. I was going to be relegated to a system analyst role. The handwriting was on the wall, and I knew that my time at “Arvin” had come to an end.
Right on queue, the Lord started opening a door to go to work for another local company called AEI, which primarily does diesel engine testing. However, they were also building a data center. They wanted someone who could be useful in writing and supporting engineering applications, as well as move over to the new company in doing system administration duties. I couldn’t have written a more fitting job description for myself. (I hope they felt the same way.) Just as I was getting the news from my old boss that confirmed I would no longer be working in a technical role, I was beginning second-stage conversations with the new company.
I’ve since moved on from AEI, but I want to stop cataloging my career on this page. I guess you can find me at LinkedIn for that context. Here are some things that I don’t know where else to place: