How long have you worked with vibration?
I started in the mid '60s during my apprenticeship with an electric motor manufacturer in southern England. Once I finished college, I began working for a European manufacturer of balancing equipment and vibration measuring/monitoring equipment, which brought me to the U.S. in 1979 on a one-year contract. My wife and I liked it so much we never left. Now I have over 40 years in the business and I've never been so excited about the future.
What do you normally do?
There's no such thing as a typical day. Sometimes we're heavily into testing the next software release, other times we're updating or teaching one of the training courses. We also do consulting and technical support for our customers, plus some sales work to get feedback on what the market wants in our next generation of products.
What have you worked on lately?
As director of applications, I field calls about whether our units can be used for specific projects. Some recent ones have included testing ceramic armor to detect cracks, evaluating equipment for gas pipeline compressors, and analyzing grain feeders for commercial chicken farms — if the feeder stops, chickens go hungry. With a major software update just released, testing for performance and ease of use has also taken a lot of time. It's important that our handheld equipment is reliable, accurate, and easy to use.
One of the unique projects I've been working on is building a complete analyzer onto a smart phone. The idea is that a technician at a remote facility who sees a problem can e-mail measurement data to the resident expert with three taps of his stylus on the touchscreen, call to confirm, and receive a text message back so he can diagnose or fix a problem on the spot.
What keeps you busy when you're not analyzing vibration?
Travel and photography. Grandchildren. Researching the impact of historical events. I used to enjoy visiting medieval castles in Europe, but you don't have any over here. Our church has a low power TV station where I help produce programming, keep equipment running, build sets, and set up lights. It's a lot of fun. Putting school sports and other local programs on the air, providing a forum for local churches to broadcast their message, and working on other family programming are very worthwhile to me.
What's your favorite thing about living in Lynchburg?
When we first came to the U.S., we were based in Dayton, Ohio where winter goes from October to March, and I traveled frequently to the northern states. Since moving south, we get to enjoy a two-month winter and the famous southern hospitality. We're surrounded by rolling hills and historical places like the Appomattox surrender grounds and the National D-Day Memorial. We have a lot of friends and many more friends we haven't met yet, so my favorite thing is definitely the people.