Last Tuesday, we set off for an overdue visit with our customer in Boston - my first ever field project.
The mission of the trip was to complete three primary objectives. Once complete, we could collect our final payment - a task that has been on my todo list since I joined in January. That would be 7 months ago. It was critical that we walked out of there with the objectives complete. It was a lot of money.
Following a safety training, we arrived on site and were handed our branded glowing vests - the mark of an employee or contractor. I tossed the vest on, pushed closed the velcro seam, and I was an instant official.
I was impressed to see our communications-based train control (CBTC) system in action. It’s one thing to watch boxes lurching around a loop on a diagnostics screen from miles away - it’s quite another to sit in the operator’s seat and experience the real-world perspective.
We knocked the first item off the list within an hour. Our Chief Engineer, our new Product Manager and myself had instant chemistry and we were off to a cracking start.
The second day, we went out for a spin - just the three of us and a couple of customer officials on an ‘out of service’ trolley - my first trip around the loop and first exposure to our systems along the way.
Again, I was impressed that our small company was able to design, develop and install the electronics and communications that enforce the movement of trains.
We came back to the station and finished our objectives, enjoying the reverence of the transit riders as we strutted around and the delight on the customers’ faces when each task was completed.
At the end of two exhausting days, we had completed our tasks. I felt a sense of accomplishment that you don’t get from uploading files to a server. Passing tools around and hot swapping boards on a running train to help these passengers ride safely gave me a feeling of purpose.
We are making a difference.