New Sonic Technician Learning Importance of Pratt & Whitney's Legacy, Emphasis on Quality

Excitement and butterflies are often mixed when Keith Hines takes the turn off Macon Road in Midland, Georgia, to start his work day.

"Everybody knows the new guy," said Hines, flashing his badge to the security officer as he rolls through the checkpoint. "Because he has this question mark on his forehead like he's lost!" Hines smiles as he makes his way to his parking spot.

Yet once inside Pratt & Whitney's Georgia Forgings facility, the butterflies are replaced with a sense on contentment, because a future has begun.

"A happy worker is going to be a very productive worker," Hines said, carefully placing his personal items in his locker, then walking to his station.

For Hines, happiness lies in what's called ultrasonic inspection. Daily, a part is lowered into a large tank of ordinary water. A high-tech machine fires sound waves through the water and into the part to find any possible defects. Hines is one of the newest sonic technicians.

"It was kind of overwhelming as a new person coming in. Many of the people around me have 20-30 years of experience. Even the knowledge I have is miniscule to the people that I'm around, so you really rely heavily on people like Dennell. (He) is a good example," Hines said.

Dennell Fairley remembers what it was like to be the "new guy." He remembers how big this place felt, how much he had to learn. He hasn't forgotten the importance of his job, or his task to pass his wisdom along to others.

"Once I start training them, and they start to understand it and catch on to it, it makes me feel good because I was like, "What do you mean? A sound beam going through water? What is that?" When I see them (the trainees) catching on, and I see them talking the ultrasound language, it makes me feel really good. I was able to teach them something they've never heard of," Fairley said, sitting in front of a part that is slowly spinning in one of the tanks.

It's a new job for one, and new responsibilities for another, in what is about to be a new era for Pratt & Whitney. An era where sites across the company will ramp up and increase production for parts and components for a new generation of military and commercial engines.

"This is a pretty cool job," Fairley said, his eyes quickly back to his computer screen to read the latest results.

It is Fairley's sentiment that Hines learned on his very first day. His shift done, it's time to head back out onto Macon Road. The butterflies will soon be a memory, quickly being replaced with a sense of confidence.

"When quitting time comes, when people leave here, most everyone has a smile on their face. You don't see that in very many places that you go to," Hines said, his truck now turning on to Macon Road as he heads for home.

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