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  • OT: A master scientific glassblower retires

    http://www.latimes.com/local/educati...nap-story.html






    "...
    Here in Caltech’s one-man glass shop, where {Rick} Gerhart transforms a researcher’s doodles into intricate laboratory equipment, craftsmanship is king. No two pieces of scientific glassware are the same, and for more than two decades, students and Nobel laureates alike have begun each project with Gerhart’s blessing that, yes, he can create the tools to make their experiments possible.

    But Gerhart, 71, is retiring, and the search is on to find someone, anyone, who can fill his shoes. In a cost-cutting world of machines and assembly plants, few glassblowers remain with the level of mastery needed at research hubs like Caltech.
    ..."
    Last edited by tlfamm; 06-26-2016, 10:04 AM.

  • #2
    Typical academic environment.

    A genius in their midst for 14 years, he stays another 6 years past retirement and by the end of a 20 year career in the place, they still haven't come up with a succession plan to replace the guy.

    I anticipate that Macona will be posting some new gloats in due course, as the specialty equipment gets dismantled and dispersed.

    .

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes, all the money goes to the PhDs and their projects and little for the support people around them. It is indeed a typical academic environment.



      Originally posted by EddyCurr View Post
      Typical academic environment.

      A genius in their midst for 14 years, he stays another 6 years past retirement and by the end of a 20 year career in the place, they still haven't come up with a succession plan to replace the guy.

      I anticipate that Macona will be posting some new gloats in due course, as the specialty equipment gets dismantled and dispersed.

      .
      Paul A.
      SE Texas

      And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
      You will find that it has discrete steps.

      Comment


      • #4
        My boss has a Ph.D. from CalTech p-chem but ... believe it or not ... he studied under Rick! He's a reasonably well skilled glass blower himself.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have a buddy who runs a small university research lab. Let's say his lab provides a very special measurement service. He and a lot of his colleagues are being treated very poorly and he hates going to work. It's surprising because he has the sort of job where he shouldn't need to deal with that drama and BS.

          Comment


          • #6
            What does this have to do with machining?

            And why is this thread still here? Or is it just Flylo's threads that are disappearing?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by CCWKen View Post
              What does this have to do with machining?
              Well, if you look carefully at the photo in the OP, there seems to be a lathe of the glassblower's sort in it...

              Close enough?

              Comment


              • #8
                No, it's not a lathe. It's a glass forming fixture. It's no more a lathe than a rotisserie on a barbeque pit.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by CCWKen View Post
                  No, it's not a lathe. It's a glass forming fixture. It's no more a lathe than a rotisserie on a barbeque pit.
                  If a spinning lathe is a lathe, why isn't a glass forming lathe a lathe????

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Glug View Post
                    I have a buddy who runs a small university research lab. Let's say his lab provides a very special measurement service. He and a lot of his colleagues are being treated very poorly and he hates going to work. It's surprising because he has the sort of job where he shouldn't need to deal with that drama and BS.
                    Because Universities are in the same boat as large corporations.They are increasingly being ran by people who have no respect for or have an outright disdain for manual skills.Or those who's only concern is making a feather nest for the latest SJW group to pop up.

                    Joke heard on the radio-"what's the difference between toilet paper and a degree? The toilet paper is more useful"
                    I just need one more tool,just one!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A story that you might find telling.

                      I now run a one-man support shop for the science division at a small college. I used to work in and run a medical equipment service shop at a large university hospital. There was a tech there, "Joe", that ran a one-man support shop for the OT/PT Department. Joe was amazing. He was knowable in machining, electronics, welding, and on and on. Twenty five years of experience with the department, faculty, staff, students and their needs. The kind of guy that could take that vision in your head and make it reality. Well, there was a turnover in administration and physicians in his department. He had an interview with the new people, who asked him what he did. In a general way, he said that he made stuff that people requested. So a short time later he was let go...because they could have things made else were on campus, or outside. They had no idea of what he really did. And what it would cost the have something taken from a vague vision to a working medical device in the fee-for-services world. My boss decided that he would be a good addition to our department, and hired him. One of our absolute requirements was to document everything. Joe never documented anything, and he didn't to seem to want to change that. He soon after retired. The gist of this that if Joe had been documenting what he did, he could have shown to the new administrators what a cost effective asset twenty five year of knowledge and experience was to the OT/PT Department.

                      So my decision, when I started my current job was to continue the documentation of my work with a work order system. I'm salaried, but bill departments for materials. Initially it was to track materials for billing, but also show my activities. I quickly realized that a stack of work orders at a job performance review wasn't very impressive. So, I started photographing the completed projects and sticking them on an internal web page. My time is divided among seven diverse academic/research departments in the Science Division. So the things created are anything but routine. At my performance reviews I present a compilation of the numbers and types of jobs I do for each department from the work orders. But also a laptop photo array of the devices I design and construct...with a story about each one. Last week a professor came it to request another copy of a device I had made for him a year ago. Since there were several similar, I pulled up the web page to have him indicate which one. He pointed to one, and exclaimed that it was like shopping on Amazon. It does take a small amount of additional time, but it has been well worth it. I guess my point is that the photos help you show what you did...and can do...if you ever need it.

                      Ken

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EddyCurr View Post
                        Typical academic environment.

                        A genius in their midst for 14 years, he stays another 6 years past retirement and by the end of a 20 year career in the place, they still haven't come up with a succession plan to replace the guy.

                        I anticipate that Macona will be posting some new gloats in due course, as the specialty equipment gets dismantled and dispersed.

                        .
                        I would love to have that glass lathe.

                        I did take a scientific glassblowing class in high school at Oregon Graduate Institute. If had been something I wanted to do and I asked how to get into it and pretty much you almost have to know someone to get in. There is a very limited amount of these positions out there so getting started is very difficult. There really are no classes on becoming one, it is still a master-apprentice type field.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CCWKen View Post
                          No, it's not a lathe. It's a glass forming fixture. It's no more a lathe than a rotisserie on a barbeque pit.
                          No, that is a Litton glass lathe.

                          http://www.littonengr.com

                          Both headstock and tailstock chucks are synchronized and various torches can be mounted on the carriage. The head and tail stocks have a very large through hole, often 4"+ to pass work though the center.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I've worked as a glassblower for the last 11 years. I use a glass lathe daily. I have been meaning to make a youtube video showing the differences between a metal and glass lathe.

                            There aren't a lot of places to learn the craft of scientific work, and equipment is hard to come by as well. Also not cheap. There just aren't that many glass lathes out there so you will rarely find one at a garage sale/auction like you can with a machine tool.

                            Macona, I grew up in beaverton. I miss it often.

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                            • #15
                              there's a large American community of technical glassblowers, I've bought stuff off them in the past as I was in charge of maintainance of a lab, there's a British blowers society too, competitions are always amusing, I just look at the drawings for fun, one of them is a double bubbler whatever that's for, I look and am amazed how complex the things are, clever lot!, it's still about thankfully not everything comes from Asia although they are very talented
                              http://asgs-glass.org/mo/index.php/h...les/24-welcome
                              Mark

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