Alumnus shares experiences in the manufacturing world
Throughout his childhood, MechSE alumnus Curtis Goffinski (BSME ‘09) was very involved in the Boy Scouts, ultimately achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He spent many days and nights outside, learning teamwork, leadership and self-reliance skills that he still finds useful in his professional life.
Goffinski is now a Principal Engineer in the Advanced Manufacturing group for Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc., utilizing those skills and the broad and deep knowledge he gained during his undergraduate years in MechSE. His work includes improving upon the company’s products as a whole as well as providing manufacturing solutions to specific customers, with much of his focus on aerospace structures.
“I have worked on manufacturing parts for many commercial airplanes, multiple defense vehicles, wind turbines, nuclear power and space launch vehicles. Visiting those customers’ facilities and making sure our equipment and technology works well in their production environment never gets old,” said Goffinski.
He said that when he first visited Ingersoll in Rockford, Illinois, he was impressed with the size of the equipment as well as the energy of the manufacturing environment where huge structures were being assembled and 100 hp motors were cutting metal.
“The machines themselves are an impressive combination of electrical, controls, mechanical and fluids engineering, combined to provide high power with extreme precision. Machine shops and factories are busy places where the end product is a piece of work you can touch and take pride in. In manufacturing, the engineer pushes the technology to make that happen more efficiently.”
Goffinski said that one big challenge in manufacturing is making new technology accessible, whether it’s through training other engineers or developing robust processes and clear documentation to ensure the technology is sustainable over time. “Over the past two years I have been heavily involved with bringing the world’s largest 3D printers to market. I couldn’t have imagined that when I started 10 years ago,” he said.
Currently, Ingersoll machines some smaller metal components for MechSE’s Formula SAE and Eco Illini car teams, and more notably, they machine many of the large molds the teams use to fabricate the composite (carbon fiber) body components. Given their relatively close proximity to the Illinois campus, the company also hosts tours for engineering students.
Earning his degree from MechSE at Illinois gave Goffinski what he considers the most important engineering skill—independent problem-solving. “For an engineering student, it takes exposure to many types of physical problems to develop the ability to understand the core challenges of a complex engineering problem and visualize each step towards a viable solution,” he said.
When he's not working, Goffinski spends his free time outside, nurturing his other passions of rock climbing, mountaineering, hunting, and fishing.