School’s Out for Summer?

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.

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June has always been a favorite month for me because it signaled the start of summer vacation. In the many years since I graduated high school, it is apparent that the academic calendar has shifted to allow for an earlier end to classes. Yet June remains forever imprinted on me.

An insightful reader of this blog recently noted that you never finish your gear education, and summer is just as good a time as any to refresh your memory on a neglected topic, or to become enthused again about an old one. This prompts me to wonder whether your company took my unsolicited — but well-intentioned — advice and brought in an intern or two for the summer months. If so, instead of merely giving them a book to (hopefully) read on gears, why not prepare a short class on the topic and present it to the interns — and, even better — interested employees as well?

You never really understand a topic until you try to teach it. Example: to comply with ISO continuous improvement/training requirements, I prepared classes on cost estimating; part processing; heat treating; gear geometry; gear inspection; and a few other topics. And I’m glad I did.

Not everyone was receptive to sitting in a class an hour a week for several weeks; but overall, I think the program was a success based upon the questions I got for months afterward. This demonstrated that they had not only attended and paid attention — but later had also thought about what they had learned.

It is difficult to know what level of knowledge is “needed” to accomplish a specific task, so for best results you might as well provide more information than is generally thought necessary. Sometimes just teaching the “how” of something and skipping the “why” leads to the erroneous conclusion that any drone could do the job at hand. In truth, modern shop and office environments need engaged and enlightened people working at every task.

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