Friday, January 11, 2008


Just had dinner with my best friend from Motorola, Dwain Dixson! He was in town on business, for training actually, and each time he visits he reminds me of how much he and I have grown through all of these years :) I have known Dwain for 11 years now, and he is still with Motorola, but is now working with cell phones.

Dwain and I were part of a fortunate group of college grads who got hired by Uncle Mot (that's our endearing term for Motorola) right when a new program at AIEG was starting up. Usually a new hire with little or no experience gets placed into a mature program to learn the ropes -- perhaps do some sustaining work, documentation, CCARs, etc. Stuff deemed not much fun. And the more experienced engineers are assigned to the new stuff. But we were surrounded by folks who believed in us, and a manager who had great confidence in his team's abilities, that we were given the rarest of opportunities. Baptized by fire from the get-go!

Dwain, Seble, Jim, and I were pups who acquired a lot of important career skills early on, from the amazing experience we had on the Natural Gas design team. We all joined within a month of each other I think, and we were all in our early 20's (I was 21 when I joined). We of course had older and wiser team leads to keep us in line (Steve, Zach, Carl) -- even Uncle Mot wasn't THAT crazy to have a bunch of newbies run around without guidance *HEHEHE*. Overall, we got our feet wet in every phase of the program. From understanding a spec and generating design schematics, to reviewing layouts, to breadboarding, troubleshooting, to circuit analysis/simulations, developing benchtesters, writing test software, flying to Seguin for builds, DV/PV testing, FMEAs, writing reports, making presentations, etc. You name it, we saw our engine control modules to the end, every step of the way! Dwain worked with Zach on the 701, I worked with Steve on the 558, and Seble & Jim worked with Carl on the 700. Our three modules then tied together to run a big Cummins Engine! They were also stand-alone modules which could serve other applications, too, like running power grids!

We depended a lot on each other, and we were a very close knit team. And we quickly learned to be resourceful, and knock on the doors of more experienced engineers whenever we had questions. And everyone was more than happy to help us along the way. Folks like our manager Mark, who was a super duper EE turned program manager. Him, Betty, Ron, Stinkie, John B, Tim E, Zoran, Jim F, and many others who worked on the legacy Cummins products. I even knocked on the doors of gold badgers like Sam and Ralph, who were longtime Motorolans with patents galore. These were the experts who the technical specialists went to for advice :) And the Cummins group had two of the best technicians ever -- Joey and Dave.

We also shared a very sad moment, when our technician Joey passed away :( We all went together as a team to his grave to pay our respects. I remember it was just after Thanksgiving. And when we were given the news, I was speechless. Because just before the holiday break, Joey had even baked for each of us a delicious English muffin to take home. Joey was really cool, and I still think about him from time to time...

Dwain and I were lunch buddies who liked to hit the Boston Market, Chi-Chi's, Crawdaddy's, Burger King, etc, if he didn't bring his lunch. Most of the time we would eat in the cafeteria with the rest of the Cummins gang. At 11:30, folks would make noise that it's time for lunch, and around 3pm folks would make noise that it's time for a coffee break :) Then Dwain accepted a position at Seguin as a test engineer as our programs neared completion, and then he later moved back to Central Illinois.

We had such a good time at Motorola -- I have such fond memories of everyone and all the relationships I made, especially the one that has lasted the longest, with Dwain :)

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