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Lots happening in Topeka, too Having read about Kansas City's initiatives in your article "Dreaming of the Future" (July 2005, Cover Story, page 50), I wanted to share with your readers how Goodyear in nearby Topeka, KS, is addressing the problem of an aging skilled workforce. With a substantial portion of the company's experienced repair technicians eligible for retirement by 2010, Goodyear c...

10/01/2005


Lots happening in Topeka, too

Having read about Kansas City's initiatives in your article "Dreaming of the Future" (July 2005, Cover Story, page 50), I wanted to share with your readers how Goodyear in nearby Topeka, KS, is addressing the problem of an aging skilled workforce.

With a substantial portion of the company's experienced repair technicians eligible for retirement by 2010, Goodyear collaborated with the Kaw Area Technical School (KATS) to design a curriculum that would counteract this anticipated loss of employees. Using grant money from GO Topeka, the local economic development agency, the school was able to jumpstart job training for Goodyear, which manufactures tires for commercial trucking and for the mining industry in Topeka. Those enrolled in the program are either existing Goodyear employees or newly hired young recruits, and a stringent screening process winnows down the class size to eight to twelve students.

The highly competitive two-year program is now in its fifth year, and all signs point to success. Graduates earn at least $20 an hour, and the guarantee of a job upon completing the program is enticing to many. KATS actively recruits young people to apply for Goodyear's program and frequently visits area high schools to speak about the advantages of a technical training degree.

In conversations with the students, KATS dispels the notion that working in manufacturing simply involves turning gears. Instead, the Goodyear program trains students through classroom instruction and on-the-job experience how to work as a maintenance technician, a position that involves computers and highly technical equipment and requires problem-solving skills.

Combating a graying workforce is an ongoing problem in the manufacturing industry, but the valuable training provided by the Goodyear/KATS partnership offers a case study for other companies to follow.

By Doug Kinsinger

President/CEO

Topeka Chamber of Commerce

www.topekachamber.org

Which way is the current flowing?

I noticed that a portion of the referenced article (August 2005, Plant Electronics, "Supplying power for electronic circuits," page 39) contains a couple of potentially confusing diagrams. Both Figures 1 and 2 depict 'current flow' in the direction opposite of the diode's 'arrow head' symbol. Those who study electronics will recognize the difference between viewing current as either electrons or 'holes,' and arguments for one view or the other are not in short supply.

However, in a basic primer such as your referenced article, the convention is the current 'flow' is in the direction of the arrows in diodes, transistors, etc. Simply showing diodes with the current entering the cathode and leaving via the anode will certainly confuse the intended readers of the article. You might want to consider a correction or explanation in a future issue.

Paul Schmidt

Electrical Engineer

United Conveyor Corporation

Waukegan, IL

Editor's response: When dealing with traditional electrical nomenclature, you have a good point. However, the direction of current flow explanation has been one of the differences between electrical conventions and electronic conventions for many years. What was depicted was the convention of electrical current flow being from a surplus of electrons (negative charge) to a deficiency of electrons (positive charge). To depict this relationship otherwise would be perpetuating error. Mr. Schmidt has a good point; an explanation of this issue along with the applicable background should be a topic in a future issue. — Jack Smith

Simple but accurate

Thanks for writing a simple, but accurate description of how a power supply works (August 2005, Plant Electronics, "Supplying power for electronic circuits," page 39). I am sure many people stopped and read that informative article. It caught my attention immediately — it was the first article I read in this issue! Thanks for the excellent article.

Mack Baxter

Maintenance Supervisor

Widmer's Wine Cellar's, Inc.

Naples, NY

Tips and Tricks fans offer their own ideas

I enjoyed the August issues Tips & Tricks review (Page 43). One of the tips was a method for removing bushings from a blind hole using a tap. I have another method that I think is a lot easier. I learned this as a way to pull pilot bushings from auto flywheels.

First select a rod, threaded rod, or long bolt that has a diameter close to the ID of the bushings. Then pack the space at the back of the bushing (between the end of the bushing and the end of the bore) with grease. Now put the rod or bolt into the bushing and push it in until it makes contact with the grease. Finally, strike the bolt with a hammer.

This generates hydraulic pressure (a lot!) in the grease and drives the bushing out. It works every time — and it's cool!

John Craychee

Kiene Diesel Accessories

Addison, IL

Please consider this trick:

Sometimes when drilling a hole in a wall we are surprised to drill an inlaid water pipe. What to do? First close the water valve for this pipe, then just find a self tapping screw that is slightly larger than the hole, use a generous amount of Teflon tape over the screw and tighten it in the hole.

Joao M Bassa

Campinas

Brazil

Blame job losses, not fewer engineers

The conclusion that GE's Jeff Immelt reached — and with which Bob Vavra seem to concur (August 2005, Comment, Page 9) that the lack of engineering graduates is killing manufacturing — is, in my opinion, faulty. Regardless of what industry reports say about the future need for engineers, the current reality (at least in my part of the country) is daily and ongoing manufacturing job losses. What intelligent young people see is a dying manufacturing base. Why would one go into engineering? If there is no shop there is little need for an engineer.

Mr. Immelt's opinion is likely based on a subconscious denial mechanism, which lets him eliminate jobs in the US for cheaper labor in the third world without guilt. The outsourcing model has been perfected on people who work with their hands and is now being used on people who think for a living.

No amount of finger pointing will change the fact that people such as Mr. Immelt will fire you if they can get someone to do your job more cheaply. Whether for reasons of philanthropy, national pride, loyalty or convenience this didn't use to happen. Now it does.

Edward Gayhart

Project Manager

Canton, OH





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