When speaking at conferences, you learn as much as you teach
My career in predictive maintenance (PdM) has evolved since my formative years in 1995 and my first exposure to it via simple Excel charts tracking resistance to ground readings on our runout table motors. This was actually the topic of my first-ever presentation at a conference. It was the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals conference in Atlanta in 1998. I sweated the topic big-time. I was extremely nervous because the audience, I believed, would see huge holes in my presentation and ask questions that I could not answer. The presentation was received well and there were many questions that I was able to answer effectively and well. I know my success was due to the fact that I knew about my topic, I had lived with the program, and could give answers based on sound knowledge and experience.
One reason I believe I was effective in my first-ever presentation in front of an audience of my peers was due to a book I had read. It was Dale Carnegie’s “The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking”. My wife and I were visiting relatives in the Atlanta area. We went to several small towns, and in one we found an old bookstore. I didn’t find anything to read, but my wife’s cousin presented me with one of the original copies of this book after we left the store because he knew I was presenting my paper and knew this was a good book to improve one’s presenting skills. The book was a bargain at $1.50. I read the book cover to cover before I presented my paper. It put my mind at ease, but didn’t stop the butterflies in my stomach. Upon returning home, I enrolled and then took the Dale Carnegie course which developed my skills in presenting even more. The course also gave me more confidence in all aspects of my career and personal life.
I have presented papers at many conferences since that first presentation - at AIST (steel manufacturers conference), PPM conferences, PdMA motor testing conferences, Snell Infrared events and others. My success at these conferences was due to me living my program, developing it and seeing through. I was confident in what I was presenting.
Looking back on my career, this confidence was not felt in executing my infrared program. I was a timid thermographer when I started. I stressed over the possibility of making a bad call. My first call as a thermographer came in our mill; it was diagnosing a press block problem using my newly purchased IR camera. It was only a 1.5-degree Celsius difference, but it was correct. It reduced the mill delay from being seven hours to three, saving several hours in downtime, and was instrumental in increasing my confidence in my abilities.
Like my presentation journey, my thermography journey followed the same pattern, I went from inexperienced and being somewhat unsure to a thermographer with confidence in my abilities. This came with knowledge gained through training, contact with others in the thermography field, and executing a sound program based on good information. My education continues even today.
When you surround yourself with people with your best interests at heart, you can only be a success. This is not something that comes easy. You have to attend courses, classes or conferences to develop and nurture a network of peers who will always be there to help you via phone calls or e-mails to determine what a problem may be or to just talk about all things predictive. This support allows you to put yourself out there while executing your program and to always be looking for new opportunities to apply to your thermography program.
May you be successful in your career in your chosen field. I hope you find it very rewarding.
- Do you want to be involved in predictive maintenance? My career in predictive maintenance (PdM) at Dofasco’s Hot Mill...