It's time to blow the dust off the keyboard, shake out the cold of winter, and get ready for prime time building weather.
But before I get lost in projects, tools, and the general day to day of shop life, I wanted to provide you all with a little background on myself, Mike Rybak. For the sake of time, I'm going to limit this blog post to my work career post college. My experiences prior to college, although relevant to where I am today, can be saved for a time when I have a little more juice in the fingers.
In 2011, I graduated from The University of Maryland Baltimore County with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering. The first professional position I held out of college was Service Specialist 1 for Siemens Industry Inc, aka a thermostat jockey.
I worked for the Building Automation division of Siemens, which included HVAC, fire suppression, energy savings, and probably a whole bunch of other stuff I've since forgot about. The team I was apart of was based in Washington D.C and handled HVAC; we were the guys who made sure your office wasn't too hot or too cold.
Now to be fair, the service techs did way more than that, but I don't want to bore you guys with the ins and outs.
To be successful at Siemens you had to be technically sound, which is why Siemens hired various types of engineers and high level techs from the military. High level problem solving, hands on work, customer service, and the ability to write code were what my team faced on an average work day.
How many of you thought HVAC techs were writing code?
That's right, the chiller plant in/on your buildings doesn’t just magically start running in the summer to provide all you paper jockeys crisp, cold air conditioning. One of my former colleagues made that happen ;).
I worked at Siemens Industry Inc. for two years before succumbing to the commute from Baltimore to D.C./NOVA every day. The major takeaway from my time at Siemens was the focus on customer service. When it comes to running any operation, customer service is key. Today everyone and their mother has a miter saw, orbital sander, and a screw gun. Price and quality aside, the average business owner has to focus on customer service to set them apart from the herd.
After leaving Siemens, I moved onto something a little different: food manufacturing.
I worked for Frito Lay North America as a manufacturing manager. If you were on the East Coast and ate Sun Chips, Scoops corn chips, Party Mix, or Pretzels, there is a 1 in 3 chance I was responsible for what you put in your mouth. Let that sink in for a second, lulz.
Working at Frito Lay was a blast: great down to earth people on the factory floor, no day was ever the same due to aging equipment, and dealing with the pressures of large scale manufacturing was pretty thrilling at times.
Looking back, this may have been the one job I wish I would have stayed at longer, but being a 24 year old single dude working 2nd shift, the job was cutting into some of the more enjoyable parts of life.
When I did decided to walk away from Frito Lay, I walked away with the ability to successfully manage a team. On a daily basis, I was in charge of 25-30 people, setting tasks, checking quality, attending production meetings, and ensuring people were safe and had what they needed to be successful.
Leading a team isn't necessarily easy, but regardless of the arena in which you plan to lead, I would say to jump in the trenches and fight the good fight with the people doing it everyday. One, they will respect you as an individual, and, two, you will know what they actually go through.
The final job I landed at, before catching the maker/woodworking bug, actually involved some actual engineering. All my previous jobs had me relying on my rugged good looks and an award winning sense of humor. For the record, I'd like it clearly stated that Mike Rybak is more than just a blue eyed handsome devil.
All I'll say is that I worked on a small team, four people, that developed products for large scale use, and we were good...real good. We solved problems in the field, developed prototypes, CAD drawings, and put things into production. Being the mechanical engineer of the crew, I handled the mechanical bits, obviously. It was a hell of a lot of fun while it lasted.
My last job was a culmination of my previous two positions, as well as my schooling. Customer service was key when dealing with people that can buy and sell you 100x over. Managing a team of sub contractors to complete tasks was imperative, as countless examples will show that there is no such thing as a one man army or self made man. It's always a team.
I finally found out what it was like to be a real engineer.
Now some engineers might be Tony Stark, but that wasn't the case for me. We were rockin' and rollin' for a good while, solving problems across the world, but eventually the paper work and bean counters caught up to us. Navigating paper work, expense reports, contracts, engineering design changes, and reviews are a necessary part of the professional engineering world. To a 26 year old hard charger, it’s death by a thousand paper cuts. Knowing how to push papers is an incredibly useful skill for starting up a business, but not the direction I wanted to take in my career.
Sooooo.... I started building things. First with wood, then with metal, plastics, lasers, cnc machines, etc. Rybak Woodworking is by no means a huge manufacturing company but its early and we've only had one pot of coffee.