First-Hand:Experiences at Westinghouse
Submitted by John Duhl
I had no hope for an engineering career as a high school graduate because an invalid father put the family's economic survival in my hands. The war changed things with employment of my sisters freeing me for military enlistment. With the war over and the GI bill available, I tried to pick a specialty which would not be crowded by younger qualifiers. At that time, teaching and engineering seemed to be the choices. By picking physics, either career was possible.
The Navy Air Development Center recruited me at college. I really really enjoyed my job. Although, as my first assignment, getting an entire radar system to check out for compliance with specification nearly overwhelmed me. I coped with the assignments as they came and left in late '53 because my mother was failing, and I thought it better to be at home. Westinghouse, who had previous contact with me at the college interviews, provided the opportunity.
My assignments at Westinghouse were equally steep. I was given a test bench and some magnetos to experiment with for a week, maybe two, when the supervisor came by and asked if I could handle the test. Thinking, he meant the bench, I said I could manage it. "Fine," he said, "I'm moving Al, the test engineer, out so the department is yours-ten benches-three shifts and about forty opera-tors." A foreman was there but the engineering decisions were mine.
About a month or so later when I felt in control, he came back and said, "After Monday, the exhaust department is yours, too." With the price of a tube at over two thousand dollars back then, I figured I would do what I thought best. If I was wrong, it wouldn't go unnoticed for very long.
Another change, the loss of the color TV division, put my job on the line. I was the last one in to Quality Control and Westinghouse had to keep the QC manager of that division to wind up all the contracts. I was kept for six months to train him on my job-a period that brought me to early retirement age. However, I wrote some resumes to see if I was employable.
All the resumes were responded to only one said, "not now, maybe later." I went through an interview session held by Singer with 139 others and was picked for a second session this time just four-and I was the lucky one. The assignment was to be their Qualification Assurance Representative. I worked for nearly six years at that and retired at 65. Since retirement, Facet Industries has called me in, once for a six month job to organize their quality documentation and the second time a one week photographic job.