Cuaderno


Below was the Opening Remarks of my brother Engr. Dominico “Doods” Amora  in one of the training sessions  of CESEEPS (Centre for Studies in Electrical Engineering Practices and Standards).  

I posted this speech (below) by giving it with a title ” CUADERNO “.  This is a true story…..

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Dear Participants of CESEEPS Training Program,

Before embarking into the specifics of the seminars composing the CESEEPS TRAINING PROGRAM, allow me to articulate the subject on Career & Competency Development of an Electrical Engineer. Please appreciate that this message is coming from the author’s heart & mind, thus I trust that you will never forget this message as you all trod along with your own respective professional lives – today and in the future.

Learning & developing oneself is all but a never-ending & continuing process. It is therefore a sin to feel that your cups are full because if you are ‘full’, anything added & poured unto you will just be wasted as overflow. Not allowing new inputs into your system will render you cemented to what you believe as facts when more often than not, are myths – in the long run finding yourselves tailing behind the realities that surround you as a professional. The Re-Engineering & Competency Development Program on “DESIGN PRACTICES IN INDUSTRIAL ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS” that we made available to everybody is a product of this learning process, the discoveries along with the acceptance to internal embarrassments but later the daring re-emergence as a much better electrical engineer in the service to the ideals of the profession and mankind.

We are now in a global environment; we therefore should ask ourselves, are we globally competitive? Are we world class? Are our practices according to standards, nationally & internationally? Or, are we growing professionally?

FACE-TO-FACE WITH REALITY

In corporate environments where this author did belong for many years, there is always that so-called “Career Path Development”. What does it mean to us? In simpler terms, it could mean, where will I be in five years time, or to make it more personal, what do I want to be in five years time … in 10 years time?

To make the subject more interesting, here’s a true-to-life story

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“CUADERNO”

Thirty years ago, there was a young hometown boy, who had just passed the board exams. Fresh from the oath-taking ceremony, he returned to his hometown, proud, full of idealism, armed with a thought that being a full-pledged engineer something big was in the offing! After all he was the high school valedictorian then and everybody in his hometown knew it! His hometown in Northern Mindanao boasted of a large wood-based industrial complex which since his childhood mystified him. His coming back home had a ready employment waiting for him in that plant – an employment paved by his father and his father’s friends. And he would be paid P 1.73 per hour or P 13 per day or P 360 per month. With overtime & Sunday works included, it could mean a P 500 per month. Fine, not bad! The position? … to his girlfriends, the position was “Assistant Engineer” but in reality the position was, “Trainee Engineer”. Inside, there was some form of a protest because he was already a ‘full-pledged’ engineer, then why a trainee?

However, the first day of work was a humiliating experience, in fact a disappointment for the rest of a four year period. Humbled; not because of the pay or position – but because of reality! At the end of the day, the young engineer realized that the company should have not paid him at all! Why? Because he realized that he was not at all productive. Nothing in the plant that he understood or had something in confidence with. He used to be only an “audience” or “kuyog-baboy” to every large undertaking. And if he participated in a project, he ended up chiseling off concrete and helped lay out heavy conduits, making pull boxes, climbing electric poles and most of the time helping out an electrician in maintenance activities, this amidst the fact that he was a full-pledged electrical engineer. When asked what he was doing, the answers were: “I am cleaning a contactor”. “I am splicing a wire”. The sad thing was that he was often tested and embarrassed by electricians. College education was not enough and the realities in the industrial world were so overwhelming to the guts of an engineer fresh from school or board examinations.

Nevertheless, what he did was to bring along a “cuaderno” making notes on significant learnings of the day and transfer them into a personal logbook.

Then there emerged a challenge. He must compete and subdue his tormentors! He must be over & above and better than them. He then focused on the electrician’s expertise that is, “controls troubleshooting” – the day-to-day action in the industrial plant scenario. In an environment of production, production & production as priority, management in this environment wants people good in controls. Troubleshooters usually save the day’s production commitments. By the 4th year, the young engineer earned the respect of his men and colleagues. He became a “TARZAN”, meaning, the hero in plant troubles. He became “conversant” of the plant equipment and its control systems. He was labeled as being “good” engineer. Meanwhile, the “cuaderno” had slowly become thicker and thicker. He survived for 5 long years, until there was an opportunity in a more glamorous company based in Cebu where he eventually transferred employment.

While in this new employment, this time as a maintenance supervisor, the process of learning was repeated. The engineer must know the control systems of process equipment of his new environment. That’s the only way to earn respect and authority. Again he must become a TARZAN – the one always being waken-up during the wee hours of the night because the trouble in the plant had already lasted for hours. In the past, achieving TARZAN status will give the engineer the authority to command his wards. As one San Miguel Vice President said, “Wala kang karapatang mag-utos kung hindi mo alam ang inu-utos mo!”

THE AWAKENING

Because of good performance, he was then given multi-million projects as “project engineer” where he designed & constructed the fastest Bottling Plant in the world (at that time) as well as the first expansion of the brewery. With flying colors, he was later given larger projects and more responsibilities that when asked this time what he was doing, his answers were in different tunes as: “I am building a Brewery. I am building a Substation; I am building a high-tech, state-of-the-art manufacturing plant”.

But then there was an awakening. If you are good in operation & maintenance, it doesn’t mean that you are good in system design and construction. In electrical engineering, there is that delineation of so-called power and controls. Aside from Control Engineering, one engineer has to obtain competence in Power Engineering. Then, this young engineer started to train his focus on the power side of electrical engineering. “How am I going to design and build a brewery system?” Then he realized that he never grew up in his engineering. Because being masterful in specific equipment controls is making you a “Technician”, not an engineer. Looking back to the efforts expended in the past years, the truth was that he strived to learn the electricians’ knowledge and had to be better. A Technician, in the lingo of most industrial plants, is a guy who possesses better skills than the electricians. The only difference was that the engineer is an engineer obtained through a BSEE course and a board exam, while a technician is not. So he realized then, that what he worked hard for 8 years in practice is actually, exerting to become a technician. How many electrical engineers in the country have been in this situation?

Designing and later building a plant from scratch is a creation and real engineering for that matter. In fact, taking a Professional Engineers License needs the competencies in power engineering design. The examiners need to see presentations & computations how the ratings of equipment and system components are derived because according to one board examiner, “if you are a PEE, you are licensed to practice the full scope of the profession”. Control Engineering is of course OK but it is in the power side that kills people, burn buildings and cause nationwide black-outs. The board is looking at it, as priority.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against of the engineer becoming a “technician” for it is in fact part of the electrical engineer’s learning process.

THE COMPETENCY DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

To continue with the story, this engineer lived on with this 2nd employment for 22 years, traveled to Germany & Singapore for latest technology training then applied his competencies in the corporation’s plants in the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong and three cities in China. Along the way he hurdled the PEE exams as second placer. He was then promoted as Superintendent and eventually became the Electrical & Instrumentation Manager of the whole corporation, holding office no longer in the provincial plants but in the posh corporate headquarters in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City. In the professional scene, he was awarded as the IIEE’s “Most Outstanding Electrical Engineering Practitioner of the Country in the Field of Industry” in 1996. He retired from the company in January of 2000 to become the plant manager of a multi-national automotive wire harness manufacturing company in Mactan Export Processing Zone, where he achieved world record breakthroughs in manufacturing. At present, he is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of an electrical engineering consultancy outfit. In 2002, he was adjudged as the Most Outstanding Electrical Engineer of the Country in the Field of Consultancy. In 2003, he was conferred as the Most Outstanding Regional Governor of IIEE. Also in 2003, Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT) conferred him as the “Most Outstanding Alumnus in the Field of Engineering Consultancy”.

The point of the story is that learning is itself a process we seem to ignore. Tracking down the process of learning will yield the following:

ü First Phase is: The “Innate Aptitude”: From the formative years up to high school.

ü Second is: “The Enrichment”: That is our BSEE and years of college education to include the review and the board exams.

ü Third is: “The Technical Training”: The training to become an Electrician and later to become a Technician. Because we have to earn that authority to “command”.

ü Fourth is: “The Awakening”: The awakening of a vision and direction what you really wanted to be. This is the breakthrough in competency development process.

ü Fifth is: “The Re-Engineering”: The retraining process to become truly an engineer. That’s why we are here in this training program.

ü Sixth is: “The Responsible Correct Practice”: After the training program you will have lots of it.

ü Seventh is: “Making Things Happen”

THE REALITIES IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING STANDARDS

The story however did not end there. Looking back again, caught in the midst of a limbo some 30 years ago, that young electrical engineer dreamt of a book that would someday guide and mentor him in the various facets of designing the electrical system of an industrial plant or a commercial complex. That dream book proved to be elusive only until the recent times when the book serial entitled, “DESIGN PRACTICES IN INDUSTRIAL ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS”, becomes available. Interestingly, that young engineer (who is now 53 years old) wrote it …no longer for himself but for others who may find these books valuable. Feeling confident after 30 years of experience, he was set to transform the “cuaderno” into not one, but five books.

But then again came another rude awakening… When the books were in the making, this engineer noticed that there were errors, misconceptions, wrong notions and misapplications in his previous works that he never thought of before. As reference books were researched, there were things missing and wanting in our practice, and that is, the STANDARDS!. To be honest, how many of us here have read the Electrical Code? Yet, we are fond of writing in the blueprints, “all installations shall be in accordance to the latest edition of the Philippine Electrical Code”. Are the designs & plans we produced compliant to the Philippine Electrical Code? On top of this, how many of us had looked into IEEE/ANSI or IEC? How many of us had seriously thought why buildings burned?

“Faulty Electrical Wiring”… there goes always the culprit. Is there really faulty electrical wiring? Whenever Manor or Ozone types of tragedy recur, our expert opinions have always been like this: “There is no such thing as faulty electrical wiring; only abuse or misuse of electricity”. But are we aware that most electrical installations in the country are in fact violations of the Code?

Faulty means “out of order”, “defective”, “flawed”. But a faulty structure doesn’t mean that it won’t work, at least momentarily. A defect in the structure doesn’t mean that it is not habitable. But when tremors or earthquakes come, they unmask the real integrity of the structure. In electrical engineering practice, energizing a system successfully doesn’t mean that they are not faulty! But are the electrical systems we designed & constructed do have the integrity? In CESEEPS, we believe that faulty electrical wirings are practices both in design and construction methods that violate the code or standard. That is one of the missions of CESEEPS and one big reason why we are here in this re-engineering program.

Our profession is dying. Year after year, electrical engineering enrolment dwindles. A number of engineering colleges are considering closing shop the electrical engineering department. There’s no more glamour. There is no more motivation.

Why? Because other professions are usurping & eating us up. Architects for instance are looking at electrical engineering as a very simple discipline. Imagine, it takes only an architectural draftsman (not even an architect) to design the electrical system of a commercial complex..? It only takes to find a PEE in the neighborhood to sign & seal the plans!!! But you will find out later on, that electrical engineering, after all, is not as easy as what we think.

THE CAREER PATH

The story of that young engineer is an example of a career path. It may not be so impressive because he is still working hard until these days, yet the story is full of the facets of career development. One electrical engineer that I know of became the president of a large electrical component manufacturer in the country when his father-in-law died. Years before that, he married the daughter of the owner, that is a career plan. Another Cebuano electrical engineer that I know of is now Vice President of one of the biggest conglomerate companies in the country, when he directed his destiny in the field of manufacturing management. Another electrical engineer is driving a posh Mercedez Benz on top of his flashy BMW when he chose to be an electrical businessman – and he was just my student before. A lot of them electrical engineers are in the comfort of Prado’s, CRV’s & Pajero’s. It is just a matter of hard work of the ‘man you see on the mirror’.

There is something that I would like to point out here and that is the man you see on the mirror. The lesson of the story of that “man on the mirror” in relevance to our subject today can be summarized in the following:

1) “VISION”: PROJECT YOUR DESTINY WHILE STILL YOUNG. Identify the state where you are happy, which kind of work that suit your taste and who you will be in the near and distant future. Know your destination. “A person without a vision is like a ship without a rudder”. It just depends which direction the wind blows.

2) “MISSION”: CHART YOUR DESTINY WITH A ROAD MAP. Identify which road you are going to take in going there. Identify what are to be accomplished. What should be done to prepare yourself.

3) “STRATEGY”: STRATEGIZE TO ACTUALISE YOUR MISSION. Hone your skills and competencies while there is still time. According to Stephen Covey, “Sharpen your tools. Train yourself”. The story of the disappointment that led to the “cuaderno” was after all not wasted. It was part of reality, a part of the never-ending learning. Each learning is a preparation to a higher level of responsibility.

4) “ALIGNMENT”: Drive yourself into correct direction desired. According to Jack Welsh, CEO of the great General Electric, “control your destiny or somebody else will”. Align yourself with the company’s mission & vision. You will then feel comfortable in your work.

5) “BE A SHINING JEWEL”: Broaden your capabilities so that you will be on top of the heap among jewels. You should have the TECHNOLOGY, keeping abreast of TRENDS & other competencies that others don’t have. Make yourself exceptional.

6) “DO IT”: Make it happen. Create opportunities. Don’t wait for something to happen. Make yourself a participant to the events. Don’t be a fence sitter. The story of the “cuaderno” did not end up hanging. It had already produced five books.

7) “KAIZEN”: Continuous Improvement. Don’t sit on your laurels because if you rest, you rust. It means relentless adrenaline & energy. Remember, your best may not be good enough. There should always be an extra mile.

8) “TEAM PLAY”: Don’t think of yourself. That’s Interpersonal Relationship in American management. Interdependence in Japanese style of management. Make something to lift others. Make a clone of yourself. Make others as good as you are so that others could replace you. Remember, you can’t be promoted to higher position if nobody can replace you. Remember, Management is the art of making others do it for you

9) “THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SUCCESS”: Never think that you are successful. Success is relative, intoxicating and momentary. You might be the president of a company but your family might be in shambles. Thus there should be a balance of career success and family success. Remember, man’s life is an open book until he dies.

10) “AIM SMALL BREAKTHROUGHS”: A winner never quits, a quitter never wins. You should learn to accept small breakthroughs as winnings because success is not all material. What’s important is that you are happy in what you are in. “Mababaw lang ang kaligayahan” – that’s better than a Big Success but laden with corruption.

11) “GOD’s GRACES”: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and everything shall be added on to you. Your greatest inspiration, mentor and ally is GOD. No matter how colossal your efforts are, they are nothing if there is no grace from heaven. Remember, for every great phenomenal fortune, there is always a crime in the closet.

THE VALUE OF CESEEPS TRAINING PROGRAM

The knowledge we have been sharing in CESEEPS seminars along with the books that come from each course can not be retained overnight. To hone your newfound competencies (after having graduated from the five modules), it requires practice calculations from time to time and from one condition to another. In Single-Line-To-Ground Fault calculations for instance, there are several possible conditions that are purposely left out for you to practice on. The NGR’s and the grounding transformers are ‘given’ data in CESEEPS’ books, but what if the condition requires you to design the NGR or the grounding transformer? What if there are two substations in parallel with the power plant bus? These are left out as a challenge for you do your own computations. When done, rest assured you will have the feeling of self-fulfillment just as we did!

You must have noticed that designs that are anchored in all relevant facets of electrical engineering for which Book 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 had accorded, will surely build up confidence that the resulting power systems that you may be conceptualizing on paper are safe, reliable and stable. On top of this, the electrical engineer becomes proud of his work as a real engineer, not just a pushover engineer.

CESEEPS’ Training Program on “DESIGN PRACTICES IN INDUSTRIAL ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS” had been designed to uplift the Filipino electrical engineer, a hundredfold. We in CESEEPS are working hard to make these seemingly difficult subjects easy to understand in real-world practice. It is worth mentioning that we also underwent into similar limbo before. For years I myself groped for mentors and I luckily found one. In your case, you don’t have to scan the clouds, you have us in you. That’s the greatest legacy we can offer.

In closing, CESEEPS will sincerely be happy to see you successful in work. We shall as well be excited to witness CESEEPS graduates becoming Professional Electrical Engineers. We have already produced five PEE’s. If CESEEPS has given you good results in your professional lives, we shall be happy to hear them – just e-mail us.

In the end, for any career path or career development, it is still the man on the mirror that counts. If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel there’s nothing to blame, except that man on the mirror! What one needs therefore is COMPETENCE. That’s the essence of global competitiveness.

Good luck, then. But note that luck is not the key. The key is your own road map in achieving to your success and how you do it. As what the respectable Engr. Arsenio A. Abellana, PEE, MSEE & former president of IIEE Mactan Chapter said: “The best thing in life is to do good, even if others don’t”.

By: Engr. Dominico “Doods” Amora  

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Engr. Dominico Amad Amora (PEE)

DOODS is a PEE with 36 years experience in the electrical profession. He was once the Manager for Electrical Engineering, Corp Tech’l Services of San Miguel Corporation. He later joined LEAR CORP as Plant Manager of Plant 222, an American automotive wire harness company in Mactan Economic Zone with corporate offices in Southfield, Michigan USA. His over-all training & application of experience revolved in the Philippines, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China & Indonesia.

Doods was IIEE’s 1996 Most Outstanding Electrical Practitioner in the Field of Industry while in 2002, as the Most Outstanding Electrical Practitioner in the Field of Consultancy. He was CIT’s Y2003 Outstanding Alumnus in the Field of Engineering Consultancy. Doods at present is the COO of PEPSCOR, a consultancy outfit based in Mandaue City. He is also the Managing Director & Chief Lecturer of CESEEPS.  

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2 thoughts on “Cuaderno

  1. What an amazing story! He deserve his success. Good things will happen when you believe in what you do. So inspiring and true of entrepreneurial journey.

  2. Pingback: The Foundation « Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Empowerment

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