Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Shaky Start At Lockheed Martin

Way back in 1978, right after graduation with a B.E.T. (now called B.S.E.T.) in Electronics degree from the University of Central Florida, I had an interview with then Martin Marietta. Well, I got hired on the spot as an Associate Engineer by Human Resources, without any interviews whatsover with any departments or supervisors. All I can figure, is that it was back in the day of "cost plus" contracts, and the more warm bodies they could add, the more money the company made.

So on day one I was sent to report to the Environmental Lab. The lab's supervisor greeted me not very friendly with something like "Personnel sent you over, I had to take you". Then he assigned me the task of designing and building from scratch a microprocessor (the 8080 was the chip back then) based thermal chamber controller, rather than buying the dang thing commercially.

Well, from college, I remember such and such circuits to the microprocessor, and other circuits from the same, but knew little to nothing about processors themselves. I struggled and pulled my hair out for a month or so to do the task, but finally gave up and told the dude I'm not getting anywhere on the chamber controller. So then he threw me into the Instrumentation group, where I basically worked as a tech, setting up & tearing down test instrumentation, test data collection and reduction. Unfortunately, my supervisor was a short, shrimp former Air Force Captain who ordered people around and had S.P.S. (short person syndrome, and treated people badly, and I therefore got along badly with the doofus.

Well, I floundered in the Instrumentation group until the end of 1982, when Bendix Corp. tried to take over Martin Marietta in a hostile attempt. Martin then bought up a bunch of their own stock to fight the attempt, causing the company became cash strapped, so layoffs ensued and the shrimp had a chance to get rid of me.

As soon as I got my 2-week layoff notice, I applied for positions within and outside the company. Towards the end of my 2 weeks, it looked certain I had a group to go to; the Manufacturing Test Equipment Engineering group. But the snafu was, the Environmental Lab was playing dirty pool refusing to let me transfer to the new group, so I had to officially leave the company before I could be hired in the new group.

So I was gone one full week (Thanksgiving week) and came back. I got 2 weeks severance pay, and 2 weeks vacation pay, so I was 3 weeks ahead when I came back! Plus, I was hired back at the same base pay, but as a tech, so I got time and a half or double time for overtime, rather than losing the 1st 5 hours of overtime, so I was in hog's heaven!

About 9 months later, I heard from GTE in Huntsville, AL from a resume I sent outwhen I got my layoff notice. So I interviewed with them on a Saturday, and got hired on the spot to be once again an engineer, and with a nice pay increase.

To get my wife to move north (she was a Florida girl all of her life), I had to promise we'd move back to the Orlando area someday. Plus we had a contract to buy our current lot, so we closed on the property, left, and put our home building plans on hold. The GTE job was the best I ever had; they gave me a month to qualification test groups of telephones, and I could easily do it in 2 weeks. It was cradle-to-grave; I wrote the the test requirements, performed all the electrical mechanical, environmental, and life testing, and wrote the test report and recommendations. I was highly appreciated at GTE for all my efforts.

Well, about 18 months later I got the opportunity to come back to Orlando and Lockheed Martin, but this time as a SENIOR ENGINEER with a 45% pay increase from when I left! So I took the offer, to work for L-M for the 3rd time. I went bact to do the same EXACT thing I did when I left, and it seemed the things I worked on when I left came to a screeching halt when I left, and I picked them right back up again, 18 months later.

I made it nearly 5 years with L-M, when I got laid off in January 1990. So I then worked on and off engineering contract jobs, direct engineering (actually drafting) jobs and non-engineering jobs, until I came back to Lockheed Martin for the FOURTH time in 12/97, which lasted over 7 years until the end of the Titan contract.

Who knows? Perhaps someday I may hit myself in the head with the ole hammer and work for L-M yet a 5th time!

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