With everything we manufacture, the question is not simply “How do we make this part?” but “How do we make this part precisely and efficiently?” One person answering that question daily is Clay Dawson, a Manufacturing Engineer who works at our Saegertown Facility.
How long have you worked here? I started interning here in 2013 and worked part-time during winter breaks. I have been a full-time employee for two years.
When you were an intern what kind of tasks did you do? For the first summer I worked with our Quality Assurance department doing various projects as well as inspecting parts. The second summer I completed information on blueprints and inspection reports and began learning engineering tasks. For my third summer I took on larger engineering roles with fixture design, drawing tools using Solidworks, and process drawings.
What was your education path? I graduated from Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School, attended college at Penn State Behrend in Erie and transferred to Penn State University during my junior year to major in Aerospace Engineering. I graduated in 2015 and am currently going to Penn State Behrend for the Master of Business Administration Program through Acutec’s Tuition Assistance Program.
How did you hear about Acutec? When I first started interning, I googled Aerospace companies around the area, as I was trying to gain work or internship experience while also saving money by staying with my parents over the summer. Acutec was the first result I found, and the rest is history.
What makes you stay? Every day seems to present new challenges and situations that require me to think outside of the box, which is something that I really enjoy. I appreciate my coworkers, as everybody is very willing to help when someone becomes overwhelmed or share their knowledge and experience from past projects they have worked on. Nobody wants to see someone fail because that wouldn’t help anybody.
What is advice you would give to graduating students? Don’t be afraid or worried if the first job that you take out of school is not your dream job. I worked at a small company in State College prior to starting full-time at Acutec because there wasn’t a position for me here right out of school. Work experience is extremely valuable no matter where you are working, and each job you have will teach you a lot of great soft skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life (being on time, being a hard-worker, working well with customers or a team, etc.).
What is the most important thing you learned here as an intern? It might sound cliché, but the most important thing I learned as an intern (and still continue to this day) is to never stop learning. Coming up through the QA department and now working in the Engineering department has helped me a tremendous amount because I learned a lot of valuable information while in QA which helps me to better understand conversations with quality personnel, customers, other engineers, etc. Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to something outside of your realm of responsibility, because you never know what you might learn from the experience.
What are some things you do outside of work? Most of my free time is taken up by the MBA Program at Behrend. When I am not doing homework, I volunteer for the Northwest PA NTMA Academic Outreach branch conducting mock interviews, various school events, speaking events, etc. I also volunteer for PA Business Week at Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School. I golf, hunt, play volleyball, and perform some stand-up comedy or act in theater shows at The Academy Theatre in Meadville when I have the time.
We greatly appreciate Clay and the enthusiasm that he brings to Acutec.