In his own words: James Betza, Senior Designer, Onex Inc
What or who fueled your interest in manufacturing?
I have been drawn to fabrication work since I was a kid, from things such as how certain cars are built to the completion of skyscrapers in the early 1900’s.
What is your current role in manufacturing?
I am a senior designer for Onex Inc. During my time with Onex, I have helped implement the use of 3D design using inventor professional. I get the opportunity to be involved in the design process from the ground up. Every piece, part, and assembly I model, assemble, and then create fabrication drawings for our shop and install crew. My day-to-day tasks can include anything from modeling a combustion piping system to creating sheet metal bend patterns for ductwork, external structures, etc. I use this program to also calculate wet/dry volumes of refractory, run stress analysis of framework, and even create renderings of our product showing both movement of parts as well as the positioning within a facility.
Describe your path to get to where you are today.
I started my path in the design world at Triangle Tech in Erie, where I earned a degree in architectural computer aided design (CAD). Upon graduation, I immediately moved to Newport News, VA to work for Northrup Grumman and helped in designing CVN 78 (Gerald R. Ford). My position there started as an entry level draftsman, where I would help create 3D models and drawings for the weapons and stowage dept E24. After a 3 year stay in Newport News, I moved to central VA where I designed components for the can shaping industry. I was on a R&D team whose task was to create a vertical can necking machine which we accomplished within 1 year at the facility. My role there lasted 4 great years, and my experience gained from both prior positions led me to a senior level design position in Asheville, NC where I worked for a company called KDS (Kiln Drying Systems). As a senior designer, my responsibilities as well as skills increased a great deal. I was involved in every aspect of building CDKs (Continuous Drying Kilns) from the external shell and catwalks, down to the combustion components and drive systems. Working hand in hand with the engineering manager, shop foreman, and welding team lead improved my communication skills interdepartmentally and gave me insight on many key aspects of a manufacturing build from start to finish.
Upon staying in Asheville for 3 years, I had built my resume a great deal, but had been away from my hometown for a total of ten years. I was ready to come home and remain closer to family. A friend of mine from high school had mentioned a position at Onex which really intrigued me because the description of the job was right in my wheelhouse. The use of high heat refractory, and molds were similar in nature and my excitement for the position grew. I made the decision to accept the position and moved home over Christmas break 2017 (the giant blizzard of the century)
A little over 4 years later, and I am still thrilled with my decision to move back and work for this great manufacturing company.
What is your Superpower?
At Onex, I am known as the “CAD wizard”.
Why is your role important to others – like to customers or end users?
I provide a clear and concise, detailed set of prints that both our shop and customer can review during or after the build. This gives them a direct understanding of the structural design, as well as the combustion and drive systems our products use. I help spot possible interferences, as well as work with our project manager in checking strengths of materials before the build. All aspects of the design ensure we are creating a safe, efficient, and reliable product for our customers.
What do you think the future holds for your career or others you inspire?
The positions within the engineering/design field are endless. I have friends who have worked on the design of aircraft carriers, sub-marines, performance vehicles, and so much more. Nearly everything you see around you once had a design team involved in making it. I hope to one day be the team lead of yet another young set of minds who start their path off in a similar fashion as I did.