Training Apprentice

Training sessions were held in the stores from time to time, there was a dedicated classroom with tables and chairs, whiteboard etc. Sometimes it would be just for apprentices and other times engineers such as new equipment releases etc.

To start with the sessions were basic, how a relay works for example. In that session several of us were asked to build a working relay solution on the bench with wires, solder relays and a battery. 

Some made a simple switch to turn a light on and off. Some used more than one relay to create more complex circuits such as and/or gates. 

My own effort comprised twelve relays, with power applied, relay one closed, this put power on to relay two, which closed putting power on to relay three, and repeated until relay twelve closed. Relay twelve disconnected power to relay one causing the whole circuit to cycle continuously making a continuous clicking noise as each relay in turn closed then opened in sequence. 

The training engineer Terry said, “that’s very good, but what does it do”.

As we progressed, I became more skilful and was often asked to help build parts of the training room for teaching purposes, hence when the first of three microprocessor panels were launched, I was tasked with installing one in the room and building a box full of indicator lights to display all the outputs so that an engineer could see at a glance the status of the panel. 

Needless to say, this happened again with the second panel release. Unfortunately I was asked to attend both training sessions for the engineers, having fully understood the panel, and built the indicator box with some thirty five lamps, it was tedious sitting though the first session, without having to do it twice in one day. 

On the second round, I was leaning back on my chair with a grin on my face and my eyes shut, when the training officer lost his rag. “Philip, are you listening” he said, I immediately opened my eyes and rolled the chair back on to all four legs, sorry, I said, I was just thinking about last night’s episode of ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy’, well that was it, all the engineers were in tears of laughter and the training officer no longer had control of the room.

It was a bit of a love hate relationship between myself and Terry training officer, he never really gave me credit for building all the new systems In the room or the time I had spent on site training, he always started from the point of view that I had no knowledge of any given piece of equipment unless he had provided training on it. 

Terry frequently became frustrated with me when I would interrupt sessions to correct him. On one occasion, he was discussing transistors, at this time, Chubb did not trust to solder these into the circuit boards, they were always installed into sockets to facilitate their easy removal and replacement. 

In this session, Terry training officer had used the white board to draw a circuit, part of one of the panels, he went on to explain how the circuit worked saying so as we can see, this is an NPN transistor. 

At which point I raised my hand; he did not want to take my question so ignored me and continued. The NPN transistor works by applying a small negative current on the gate which turns the transistor on allowing a large proportional current to flow across the collector and emitter. 

My hand was still up, so he reluctantly said, yes Phil, I stated that if the small current on the gate was negative, then the transistor must be a PNP, not an NPN as described, he thought about this for a minute, that went on, yes he said, so this is a PNP transistor. 

One of the engineers overheard Terry saying to my favourite supervisor, Gordon. “That Phil, correcting me like that in the training room, makes me look like I do not know what I am doing in front of the other engineers.

It was probably fair to say that my face did not really fit at Chubb.