An Appreciation of Gray Hair

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

While driving from Dallas Fort Worth Airport to a new client’s factory, I listened to a very troubling story on PRI’s Marketplace. It seems Silicon Valley is becoming a major market for cosmetic surgeons! This hub of innovation worships youth to the point where “coders” are considered washed up at 35; potential company founders over age 40 are dismissed on the grounds that “If they were going to hit it big, they would have done so by now.” In desperation, people are relying on plastic surgeons to disguise their age.

This attitude is worrisome on many levels. My adult children worked hard to find employment in computer-related fields. The thought of them being obsolete and unemployable in a few years will cost me and my wife plenty of sleep. On a broader basis, how can you build an industry that discards its most valuable assets the moment their skills need updating?

Imagine a gear industry where you got kicked to the curb the moment you finally understood what was going on? A few weeks ago I blogged about Professor Faydor Litvin’s 100th birthday. His work at the University of Illinois/Chicago began at the age of 65! And his is not an isolated case in our industry — most of our superstars continue to “produce” well past normal retirement ages.

One of my favorite things about our industry is the opportunity to learn new things — no matter how long you have been involved. My Texas trip involved meeting some great “young” guys just starting off in this business; the oldest of them would be three years away from Botox in Silicon Valley. Instead, he has the chance to master an exciting branch of mechanical engineering his college curriculum limited to about three classes.

A word of warning to those of you starting out on the gear trail: once you get in, you may be in it for the rest of your life. There are “secrets” that will only reveal themselves to you over time. Even when you think you have those mastered, new insights will come to you. It becomes a life sentence to some of us and we never apply for parole.

PS: We’re set to begin our 4th month on the Gear Technology website. The comment activity has been picking up but we want to remind you that your input is appreciated. Topic suggestions are always welcome.

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