By Alan Froslie, CFPHS, CFPAI, Airline Hydraulics
George Burns once joked that the first thing he did in the morning was check the obituary section of the newspaper. If he wasn’t in it, he got out of bed.
I also read through obituaries, but not for the same reason George did. Instead, I like reading the stories of people’s lives. Where they were born. Where they went to school. Did the serve in the military? Did they go to war and what did they do when they got back? Their marriages, children, hobbies, and pastimes. Some were avid fishermen or hunters; others liked to read, or knit, or just spend time with friends and family. Many enjoyed traveling, or motorcycling, or maybe they restored a classic car in their retirement.
One aspect I always note is their vocations. Some moved from job to job with no consistent career path. They never stayed in any field and built on it. A few, however, found a pursuit that they stayed with for a lifetime. Maybe they worked their way up from a delivery driver to a manager, going to night school and, eventually buying the business and growing it into a thriving operation. You can see a progression building upon education, years of experience, and ongoing training as they develop into experts in their fields. I often wonder how they determined their path? Was it intentional or something that developed out of necessity along the way?
I have been in fluid power for all my working life. I went to a fluid power vocational school, and I have been employed in the industry for over 30 years. Even when I did a tour in the Marines, I was able to become a helicopter hydraulics mechanic and get hands-on experience. I have sought to improve my knowledge and expertise not just in the technical aspects of the field, but also in sales, business relationships, computers, and controls. I became a Certified Fluid Power Specialist back in the 1990s. The International Fluid Power Society has been part of my growth and progression, offering a pathway as I built my expertise. Of course, along the way, I made mistakes and miscalculations. I was distracted and diverted, but managed to find my way back to a career in fluid power.
Overall, I feel there are three stages in life. First as a student, knowing nothing, but gradually learning your way in the world. Secondly as a doer, using what you know and have learned to both support yourself and contribute to humanity. Finally, as a mentor or teacher, passing on what you know to those coming up to continue the cycle. These stages don’t necessarily occur in sequence, but repeatedly occur and diminish as one moves through life.
Now I’m in a position where I can pass on what I’ve learned to new people in the industry. Again, the IFPS is there with a pathway for progression. I achieved my Accredited Instructor Certification and began working with a local community college in their Mechatronics program as a Fluid Power Instructor. I’m also working on a certification program within my company, and plan to use the training resources of the IFPS to help achieve this objective.
To sum up, I believe that success, however it is defined, can best be achieved by planning for and building a career through education and experience. The fluid power industry offers a variety of career paths. Whether you’re a hands-on mechanic, a sales and application specialist, or a degreed engineer, don’t just look for a job or a class. Look for the first step in your career path. The International Fluid Power Society offers pathways to guide and validate your growth. Start your journey today.