Fabrication wasn’t the first thing on Mark Villanueva’s career checklist. In fact, he didn’t even have a clue what a CNC machine was until he left his bank job nine years ago and joined us as a water jet operator. His plans to learn medical billing and coding were quickly forgotten as he visited the shop for the first time and said to himself, “This is awesome!”
A Quick Study
It didn’t take long for Mark to discover that, not only did he have an aptitude for machining, he really enjoyed it. “Taking raw material and making something that has a practical use is very satisfying to me,” he said. Soon, he left the water jet behind and found a permanent home in the Machining Department, working his way up to Lead Machinist.
At Home in the Shop
He spent some time as an Engineering Intern, but found he enjoyed being in the shop, working with his hands. He considers the time well spent, though. Now he sees each part with the eye of an engineer, which helps him with job set ups and machining in general. That includes programming our vertical mill and lathe for computer aided manufacturing (CAM).
Passing it Forward
Part of his current duties include supervising and teaching other machinists in the shop. He enjoys the role of mentor and watching the new techs learn and perfect their skills. “The more I teach, the more I learn myself. I feel good when I see them succeed.”
Off Duty Activities
Mark continues to build things when he’s not in the shop. In his case it’s custom-made computers for his friends and family – especially “souped-up” models for gamers who need a lot of power. “Computers built from the ground up are faster and cheaper,” he explained. “It’s not as hard as people think.” We’ll have to take his word on that.
Most of his free time is spent with his three children. At their young age they only leave him enough energy to binge Netflix or play a little Overwatch®. Here’s a tip (or maybe a warning) – don’t play Trivial Pursuit with Mark. His super power is retaining scads of useless facts and info