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Archive for August, 2009

On and Off Work Hours

Thursday, August 13th, 2009
Technology is a great thing, right? It makes work easier and it allows salespeople to be available all day, every day, no matter what. Cell phones and laptops enable an employee to work from the comfort of his or her home or do business from the driver’s seat of their car. But at what point does this technology become too invasive? Where do we draw the line between our working life and our personal lives?

Two recent lawsuits have sought to establish this line. Employees of T-Mobile USA filed a suit against the company, claiming they were expected to respond to messages outside of work hours using company cell phones. It raises the question of when employees should be paid for what they are doing.

As the workplace has changed, so have the rules that govern what constitutes “work”. It used to be simple: if you’re in the office, you’re working. If you’re not in the office, it’s personal time. Customers in this day and age, however, expect service around the clock, and if your company wishes to remain competitive, it is often necessary to provide that service. This may not be a huge issue for salaried workers, who are accustomed to late nights without extra pay, but it carries heavy consequences for hourly workers seeking overtime pay.

More and more companies are adopting stricter policies concerning cell phone usage outside of the office. What’s your company’s policy? Do you have one?


WorldSkills International

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

In less than a month, Calgary, Canada, will play host to the world’s largest vocational skills competition. Workers from around the world will journey to the event for a week of trade and craft skills competitions that will display the technical and vocational prowess of each country’s representatives. And, of course, one of the skills that is put to the test at the event is welding.

A major goal of these games is to promote awareness of and education for skilled vocational trades throughout the world. Welding, along with other trades such as plumbing, IT networking and mobile robotics, is a skill set that will always continue to be necessary in the U.S. and throughout the world. WorldSkills hopes to promote the development of these skills from a young age. Participants in the competition must be under the age of 23.

These games seem like a great way to get young people interested and involved in such an important part of worldwide industry. Not only do they promote a unified international workforce, but they champion skills that are vital to the vitality and prosperity of our country and the global economy.

August Edge On Its Way

Friday, August 7th, 2009

I’ve been busy all week finalizing the text for the August edition of GAWDA Edge. Being a roller coaster enthusiast, my favorite story is the piece on gases and welding work in roller coaster design and construction. However, the issue also includes stories from mentors and mentees in the gases and welding industry, a look at GAWDA’s upcoming Convention in San Antonio, some social networking tips and much more. With this issue off my desk and out of my way now, it’s time to begin work on the September issue. I’ll be sure to include stories related to the issue in the blog whenever I come across them and continue to keep my readers updated on the status of the publication. For now, I bid everyone a good weekend and look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions on the August GAWDA Edge which hits inboxes everywhere on the 20th.

DIY Rollercoaster

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

I’ve spent the last few weeks researching the engineering and construction of roller coasters for a story in the upcoming issue of GAWDA Edge. I’ve found a lot of interesting information in that time and I’ve decided that being a roller coaster engineer should be every child’s dream job (they get to ride roller coasters all day).

I came across an interesting story this morning about a man who was tired of waiting in hour-long lines for a 30-second ride on a roller coaster. Therefore, John Ivers took it upon himself to build his own roller coaster in his backyard. He built a 180-foot-long coaster called Blue Flash that is both safe and exhilarating, and he did it all thanks to his background in auto mechanics and welding.

Most of the metal used to build Blue Flash was scrap that Ivers took home from work (he builds grain elevators). He did all the welding and metalwork himself in his barn and pieced the ride together one section at a time. Ivers is currently working on building a second coaster that will circle his garden. The frame for his latest attraction will be a welded box frame which will make the ride smoother and sturdier.

Ivers’ creation is a fascinating example of what a person can do with a little bit of welding knowledge (and in this case some engineering and physics experience doesn’t hurt either). Be sure to check out GAWDA Edge on August 20 for more roller coaster excitement.

The Art of Welding

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Ron Arad's Vitra Miniature ChairI wrote recently about how compressed gases are used in the creation of artistic jellyfish sculptures, but now I would like to take a look at a more traditional form of art that involves this industry: welded sculptures.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC has announced a planned retrospective of artist Ron Arad’s work from October 2 to October 19, 2009. Many of Arad’s works are composed of stainless steel which he cuts and welds into massive, magnificent pieces of art. The majority of them will be displayed in a Corten and stainless steel cage called the Cage sans Frontieres. The cage is 126.5 feet long and 16 feet tall and was designed and built by the artist.

Since I’m not exactly an art connoisseur, I figured I’d include an excerpt from artdaily.org to best describe Arad’s work:

This exhibition celebrates Arad’s spirit by combining industrial design, studio pieces, and architecture…The structure [Cage sans Frontieres] is in the shape of a twisted loop and consists of 240 square cut-outs lined with stainless steel that act as shelves for the objects in the exhibition. The dramatic installation relies on the scale of the structure and on the reflectivity of the inner walls of the cut-outs which creates a ricocheting effect.

Arad uses a combination of sophisticated automated manufacturing techniques and low-tech welding devices to fabricate his works of art. These welded pieces will be displayed at the MoMA for two weeks as the museum’s featured exhibit.

To artists like Arad, a welding torch might as well be a paint brush or a chisel. Many artists, therefore, depend on their welding supply distributors to provide all their artistic supplies. Art work of this nature can often be found on display at gases and welding distributorships as an example of what is capable with welding. A welded sculpture adds a decorative touch to any distributor’s showroom.