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Unread 05-29-2018, 11:14 AM
Unsung FIRST Hero
Al Skierkiewicz Al Skierkiewicz is offline
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A Big Change Coming

Everyone,

I wanted to let everyone know that a big change is happening this week for me. I celebrated my 45th work anniversary at WTTW/WFMT yesterday. This is the only employer I have worked for following my graduation from Bradley University. From the day I started, I have been part of a team installing, maintaining and designing equipment and systems for use in our broadcast operation. During that time, I have worked with a number of very talented people and have been given a long list of opportunities. I have had so much fun working here, it seems like only last week that I started. During the past 45 years, I have always said "yes, I can do that" and it never failed to allow me to do things most people can only dream about. Shortly after starting, myself and another engineer worked on recording stereo audio on video tape. This allowed us to electronically edit TV programming in stereo instead of using a razor blade and splicing the tape together. We had a series of audio heads made to our specification. That specification eventually became the standard for stereo audio tracks on 2" quadruplex video tape. We then modified record electronics so that we could electronically edit the tape for both audio and video. That move lead to my station becoming involved in developing stereo audio broadcasting for TV in the US. As part of that team, I helped develop standards for audio testing over the air which led to 'on air' testing for FCC acceptance. My station was the first station in the US to broadcast in stereo. The testing took place at night, over the course of several years in order to satisfy all competing manufacturers. I spent most of those nights working in Sears Tower on the 102nd floor. When not working on the testing, I worked on methods to be able to broadcast stereo audio through our current mono equipment.

I have also been responsible for installing all audio production equipment over these 45 years. It began with the first multitrack audio console installed in a TV station in Chicago. My most recent installation is a 116 input audio console, coupled to a 128 track ProTools recorder and a variety of other equipment. I also have converted the entire radio station to a digital format using audio over IP.
I am very thankful for all of the projects I have been able to work on, I am proud to have been part of this advancement in technology. However, things change with time and this is no different. Having achieved 45 years with the same employer, it is no time to redirect my efforts. I will be retiring Thursday. It has been a fun time, and I hope all of you can find something that not only pays the bills but gives you the satisfaction of never really working a day in your life. I can truly say that I have the most fun working here.
However, I am not leaving robots. I will still be around for as long as I can connect with the students and help all of you get through this competition. I am only changing venues and will be working at home. My email is listed here on CD and so if you need you can contact me there. Have a fun summer everyone.
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Unread 05-29-2018, 07:41 PM
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EricLeifermann EricLeifermann is offline
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Congrats Al!

An amazing career, with more amazing achievements, and an even more amazing feat of working that long at 1 employer. Retirement well deserved, good luck in your home endeavors and I look forward to catching up again at a future robotics event.
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Unread 05-29-2018, 08:08 PM
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notmattlythgoe notmattlythgoe is offline
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Retirement, that's my dream job.
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Unread 05-29-2018, 09:38 PM
MrRoboSteve MrRoboSteve is offline
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Congratulations on your retirement, Al! Few make it to 45 years in any sort of role these days, so it's quite an achievement.
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Unread 05-30-2018, 01:10 PM
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Nicely done Al!

I just can't remember those call letters tho.. I lived in Streamwood Il back in the early 70, I was just a teenager (wishing there was something like FIRST Robotics!).
All I can remember is WLS and WBBM...... sigh

Take care, and stay busy, maybe a 36 track IMU for the robots. lol

Thanks for all you do,
Mike
KB0ozn
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Unread 05-30-2018, 02:29 PM
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Congrats Al!

We are so lucky to have you as part of FIRST. I can only imagine how valuable you were to WTTW over all these years. It must've been great to see you in action there.

I look forward to seeing you at Midwest next year. Cheers!
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Unread 05-30-2018, 03:01 PM
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dtengineering dtengineering is offline
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Wow. Congratulations, Al.

Those are some very cool accomplishments. Technology advances rapidly, but few people actually get to play a definitive role in pushing it forward.

Glad to hear you're going to be sticking around with FIRST. I think more people need to hear the "find a way to do what you love" story. I'm fortunate to know exactly what you're talking about. I've only been teaching for 20 years, but it seems to have gone by in a flash. (Not sure I'll be sticking it out for another 25, mind you...)

Make sure to post a few more photos of the view from the top of the tower... I've always enjoyed reading about what you do when you aren't helping teams build better robots!

Jason
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Unread 05-30-2018, 03:19 PM
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike9966 View Post
Nicely done Al!

I just can't remember those call letters tho.. I lived in Streamwood Il back in the early 70, I was just a teenager (wishing there was something like FIRST Robotics!).
All I can remember is WLS and WBBM...... sigh

Take care, and stay busy, maybe a 36 track IMU for the robots. lol

Thanks for all you do,
Mike
KB0ozn
WTTW is Chicago's PBS station (it's really good!). I know the Chicago Tonight program has done extensive segments on FRC many times in the past, and I'm sure Al had a big part in helping make that happen.

Congrats on a great professional career Al. You're one of the premier mentors and volunteers not just in Illinois but all of FIRST and I'm glad to hear you'll stay involved with FIRST. Happy retirement!
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Unread 05-30-2018, 04:26 PM
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Sheesh, only 45? Talk about lazy...

Al, congratulations on your retirement. Certainly well-deserved. Check in with us if you find yourself wanting something to do. It'll only be weird for a couple of weeks, but then it'll start sinking in, and it will be good. This is your punishment for killing NTSC.

I guess the child labor laws were different back then...


Kids reading this:
Today a 45-year career is virtually unthinkable, but if you really figure out what you enjoy doing, and get someone to pay you to do it, the time will fly by (Al wasn't kidding). Chase happiness, not money, because if you like what you're doing, you'll be exceptionally good at it, and the money will come later.
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Unread 05-30-2018, 05:14 PM
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Congrats, Al. That is indeed an accomplishment working 45 years for the same employer... you set the bar high.
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DISCLAIMER: Any opinions/comments posted are solely my personal opinion and does not reflect the views/opinions of FIRST, IndianaFIRST, or any other organization.
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Unread 05-30-2018, 05:47 PM
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Congrats Al, though you scared me with the thread title.

My first thought was, "Oh no ..... Someone is posting that FRC is getting rid of bumpers for next season."
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Unread 05-31-2018, 05:43 PM
Davis Racing Davis Racing is offline
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Enjoy.
Thanks for staying with us.
Bill Davis
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Unread 05-31-2018, 05:54 PM
Lil' Lavery Lil' Lavery is offline
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Re: A Big Change Coming

But, can you help my friend fix her VCR?


Congrats!
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Unread 05-31-2018, 06:25 PM
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Congratulations!!


I've always enjoyed your work stories. Now I expect to hear some excellent retirement ones!
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Unread 06-01-2018, 07:12 AM
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Re: A Big Change Coming

Congrats Al! 45 years can go by in a blink of an eye, though sometimes even one overnight can feel like an eternity. You've made a significant contribution to the world at work and impacted so many students in FIRST.
Happy retirement!
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