It has been an honor for Empowering Pumps & Equipment over the years to shine a light on the professionals behind the industries that are vital to life and share their stories with our #PumpTalk Community. We are proud to have Gakuo Ndonga as our March #Pumptalk Celebrity. He is an Application Engineering Expert at SKF Group and has tons of insight to share with us. We hope you enjoy his story!
Q: How did you get started working in your field?
Gakuo: I first entered the pump industry when taking the role of an Inside Sales Engineer at a pump distributor not too far from the Philadelphia area. Having no experience in sales, I was challenged to develop selling skills while maintaining my technical way of working in an engineering field. This ability to adapt on the job became an advantage in my next role. The experience gained in selling, sizing, and converting pump assemblies and systems led to an opportunity to work as an application engineer for SKF. In this role I used my knowledge of pump designs to support manufacturers with performance evaluations of centrifugal pump bearing arrangements. In my current role as an application engineering expert, I also support end users and colleagues around the world with troubleshooting and technical guidance on pump bearing applications.
Q: What do you love the most about your job? What are you most proud of?
Gakuo: I have always had a passion for engineering. I have always enjoyed seeing designs transform from sketch to functional machines. This is something that will never change. What I am most proud about currently is the ability to see some positive changes in our industry, especially around diversity and inclusion. For some, these changes may not feel enough or happen as quickly as they would like. While I share their frustrations, I recognize that we must build that future we are looking for. That process of working together is what I am beginning to see more of. If our industry continues down this path, I think we can accomplish many remarkable things.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?
Gakuo: I encourage anyone new to the field to take some time and understand how impactful the field of engineering is in our world. Almost every device, machine, tool, material, and consumable has been designed or improved in some measure by an engineer. What we do everyday matters and in some cases quite significantly. For those who may not feel passionate and enthusiastic about their daily roles, take a trip to a facility or speak to an end user. Take the opportunity to learn about their daily roles and how our jobs and products impact them.
Q: Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?
Gakuo: I am witnessing the results of more water and wastewater investments in our country’s infrastructure through new pump design projects. One recent project involved collaborating with a fellow SKF application engineer in designing a new bearing arrangement for a solids handling vertical centrifugal pump for a sanitation project. This specific design utilized spherical roller thrust bearings in a unique arrangement. To accomplish a successful design, strong collaboration from SKF and the client was necessary to optimize proper bearing selections, software simulations, oil type selection, and design of an optimal bearing housing. This project was meaningful since it built a strong relationship between SKF and the client during months of design work. All this effort led to a successful design that is being used to improve our water infrastructure and people’s quality of life.
Q: Anything Else you would like to add?
Gakuo: A genuine thank you to Charli Matthews and the Empowering Brands Team. Keep highlighting the diversity of talent in our industry.