Long N. Phan’s career path to his current position as an applications engineer for United Grinding in Miamisburg, OH, is in some ways unexpected. Long earned his mechanical engineering degree from the University of Missouri St. Louis/Washington University in 2011. At the time, the job market was a little tight so Long decided to increase his skills by learning about solid modeling.
When parents of a friend of his learned that he was pursuing certification in solid modeling, they offered him a job in their small St. Louis machine shop working with Mastercam. By his own admission, Long didn’t know a lot about machining feeds and speeds at the time, but in no time Tom Roderick and Mike Stockglausner, the shop’s owners, had him out on the shop floor learning to operate mills and lathes.
“That opportunity really opened my career path to me. Working at the small shop helped build my great appreciation for machining. I enjoyed it and now I love it. It’s my career.”
The first big opportunity in Long’s career came when he joined Honda of America, as a Level 2 Engineering staff in Anna, OH, working on its major Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) components line. Interestingly, in spite of the fact that Honda was offering positions in turning, Long was assigned to grinding processes. He quickly learned that grinding is one of the most challenging processes, especially because of new difficult-to-machine materials and tighter production requirements.
At Honda, Long was responsible for equipment procurement, developing efficient layout and parts flow for CVT components as well as manufacturing equipment specifications to meet mass production schedules. Randy Seger, one of the CVT project engineers who worked with Long at Honda, describes him as “self-motivated and persistent. Long quickly earned the respect of the entire team through his effort and willingness to tackle difficult challenges,” said Seger.
“Long joined United Grinding last summer and immediately exhibited the acumen that gave us the confidence to assign him to some of our highest profile development and installation projects,” said 30 Under 30 nominator Ted Neckel. “In fact, Long has worked with some of our largest customers, including aerospace manufacturers in Mexico and Canada, to successfully implement Studer cylindrical grinders into their processes.”
Tom Vieira, who is an application manager in United Grinding’s cylindrical division and Long’s supervisor, said that Long is a character-driven employee who always has a positive attitude. He really appreciates Long’s willingness to jump into any project and propose solutions, which is extremely valuable to United Grinding and its customers.
Long’s contributions to United Grinding have been almost immediate, for example, developing an ID grinding process for HVOF-coated parts. His solid machining experience that was developed while working as an apprentice machinist has enabled him to excel at training United Grinding’s customers and troubleshooting application challenges. “Since joining United Grinding almost a year ago, Long has earned high marks as an essential member of our team. He is both an outstanding leader and a talented engineer,” said Neckel.
This article was first published in the July 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read all of the 2016 30 Under 30 Profiles as a PDF.