This is My Story.
This is My Story.
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‘I grew up around tinkerers’
Brandon Green grew up idolizing his grandfather and father. As a young boy in Columbus, Georgia, he would help with projects around the house. Described as a “life-long tinkerer,” Green’s grandfather was always taking apart and repairing lawn mowers and other mechanical devices. Green was never too far from his side, taking it all in.
He also spent time riding alongside his dad, who owned and operated an appliance repair business. At 16, Green was going on service calls and repairing washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators.
‘I remember the moment I decided to become an engineer’
As a teenager, Green played baseball and was on his high school golf team, where he served as captain during his senior year. Outside of school and sports, Green enjoyed Legos, 3-D puzzles, and building cars to race in the Pinewood Derby. His junior year of high school, he took his affinity for appliance repair and his interest in understanding mechanics, and signed up for a metal shop class. The class met offsite at another high school. For one block period every day for two years, he learned how to weld and use different machines including a lathe and 3-axis mill. “I loved that I could start with a design and build a finished product. It was during this class that I decided I wanted to become a mechanical engineer,” Green said.
After graduation, he studied at Georgia Southwestern in Americus, where he enrolled in a joint program with the Georgia Institute of Technology, and earned a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics. He then transferred to Georgia Tech, where he was able to explore other areas of engineering, and then went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from Tech in Mechanical Engineering.
‘I had always planned to go back to Columbus’
After graduating, Green received a job offer from Pratt & Whitney, a manufacturer of turbine engines. He didn’t hesitate on taking the position at the Columbus plant. “I grew up in Columbus,” he recounted. “My whole family, my wife’s family, and our friends were there. I always planned to go back.”
As a design engineer at the company’s Columbus operations, where both commercial and military engines are made, Green was excited to join a global manufacturer that is an integral part of the community in which he grew up. Partnering with organizations such as United Way, Relay for Life, and the Annual Air Show, Pratt & Whitney raised more than $350,000 for the Columbus community and won a leadership award from its corporate office in Connecticut. The company also teams up with the local school system to run an internship program with high school seniors. In its sixth year, the program has graduated 60 students, and more than half of them have become full-time employees at the Columbus plant.
Working at Pratt & Whitney has also given Green the chance to work with middle school students. He participated in a project where students were tasked with designing a city for the future while simultaneously solving real-world problems. Green worked with the student teams and helped them with their plans. “They really get into these projects. And I got to talk to the students about the cool things manufacturing has to offer,” Green said. “I helped them understand that every end-product in the room had to be developed from a concept and made by people in a manufacturing plant.”
‘Manufacturing has allowed me to travel to places I’ve never been’
Before Green joined Pratt & Whitney, he had only been on an airplane once. “At 12 I flew for the first and only time to visit family in Arizona. Besides that, we drove everywhere,” Green recounted.
“Since joining the company five years ago, I have flown dozens of times. Not only have they sent me to plants across the United States, but I’ve been out of the country seven times,” he said, excitedly. He recently went to Germany to tour an equipment manufacturer and can’t wait to return. “My wife was born in Germany, but left when she was an infant and hasn’t been back. I can’t wait to take her next time and show her the country,” he said.
Green, similar to many others who work for manufacturing companies, has been afforded the opportunity to travel across the globe to benchmark other plants, source equipment, and research the latest innovations in automation, robotics, and technology.
‘I get to design a product and see the finished result’
In addition to his travel schedule, Green is heavily involved in the design phase of the forging process, where he shapes metal using localized compressive forces to create compressor blades. These blades are used in tanks, commercial engines, fighter jets, hovercrafts, and land-based turbines for power generation.
Green starts with a blueprint, reviews the specifications for the final product, and then uses raw material to form the part. From there he takes the rough shape and begins the post-processing phase, where it is converted into a final product. “Its exciting work,” he said, enthusiastically. “During this part, I am able to use robotics to finish the leading and trailing edges of the airfoils.”
‘I take my work home…but not in the way you’d think’
Green laughs as he recounts the advice both his father and grandfather liked to give him. “My grandfather and father always told me that hard work pays off and not to give up on my goals. I’m not sure if this is what they meant, but outside of the office I also have fun at home being a designer and builder.” During evenings and weekends, Green has taken on the family trait of being a part-time “tinkerer.” He takes advantage of Google Sketchup, a free, 3D drawing tool to create solutions for everyday problems at his house.
For example, he and his wife’s three cats constantly woke the couple up in the middle of the night because they were fighting over food. Green sketched and built out an automatic cat feeder that dispenses the food from one container into three separate bowls. Asked how it’s working, Green’s response: “We are sleeping much better in our house now.”
In addition to the three cats, they also have two dogs, both Huskies. The breed is notorious for needing a lot of exercise. As dogs that are both energetic and athletic, Huskies are known for pulling sleds. To ensure they got the proper exercise, Green cut a kid-sized bicycle in half and welded it to a pull cart. On the weekends he takes his dogs to flat hiking trails around Columbus and his dogs pull him around in the cart to do what Green calls “urban mushing.”
‘Manufacturing is rapidly changing and I’m proud to be part of the industry’
Green lights up when he talks about manufacturing and being able to experiment with the process of different materials and how those materials react to altered temperatures.
“The most exciting part to me is the addition of 3D manufacturing. The fact that I can quickly manufacture a product in plastic in our facility, test it, make changes, and develop another prototype until it’s the perfect part, is revolutionary,” he said. 3D, or additive manufacturing, is changing the landscape. Manufacturers no longer need to outsource their design and wait multiple weeks for the part to arrive, only to discover further adjustments are needed. They are now able to produce and reproduce prototypes in-house before making the final tooling. “3D manufacturing allows us to design parts that we’ve never been able to make before with conventional manufacturing and it also allows us to get product to market much faster.”
As technology continues to change, he is excited to see how the industry will evolve. “I can’t wait to see where manufacturing will be in the next five, 10, and 20 years, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
About Pratt & Whitney
Founded in 1925 and headquartered in East Hartford, Connecticut, Pratt & Whitney is an American aerospace manufacturer with global service operations. With more than 31,000 employees supporting 11,000 customers in 180 countries around the world, Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture, and service of aircraft engines and auxiliary power units. As the only engine overhaul center in the Americas, and one of only five globally, the Columbus plant is housed in a 250,000 square foot plant, was established in 1996, and has performed more than 1,300 engine overhauls.