August 28, 2023
Gear Technology has a major interest in educating its readers. Cutting-edge technical papers are a primary component of our content, along with information from our advertisers on the latest improvements in gear design and manufacturing technology. We also include many features aimed at the entry level engineer, machine operator, and executive. This mission is important because, for reasons some of us gear fanatics may find less than compelling, gear technology is no longer taught thoroughly in our technical schools and universities. To remain certified they must stick to the mandatory curriculum and that curriculum only allows a few hours over the course of a two- or four-year program to cover gears and general machine design principles. Unfortunately we have not been able to reduce a field as varied and complex as the gear trade to a plug-in smartphone app. I am sure someone out there is still trying, but all previous efforts have fallen short. A colleague once set out to develop a completely automated system that would process a customer’s custom gearbox into a complete set of detailed drawings. Many years later it was still designing gearboxes with overlapping bearing bores. In simpler times the gear industry hired bright young people and trained them to perform the tasks needed within the organization. This worked well when order books were consistently filled; you could even survive the occasional poaching of a trained employee by competitors. In large metro areas with a concentration of gear makers, this “poaching” led to a certain amount of commonality of methods and terminology. The more isolated firms often developed their own methods and nomenclature; this is where our trade association, the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA), helps “translate” local dialects into our common tongue. In other countries all gear training is concentrated in a specific school and this “language” problem is avoided. We are proud of the role Gear Technology plays in educating the trade domestically and internationally. In my next posting I will point out a problem with the continuing education system that has frustrated me for years.