An Interview With Rick Comeau; ICS’s Waterjet Extraordinaire

ICS's first hire prior to opening it's doors in 2020 was waterjet operator & drafter, Rick Comeau. Since then Rick has been a driving factor in the success of ICS. We sat down with Rick to hear more about how he kick started his career in waterjet cutting and to give us a behind the scenes look at ICS's operations!
ICS-Interview with Rick Comeau

What did your educational background look like? 

I originally went to school for architectural design. For my first 2 years, I studied at Central Connecticut State University, followed by another 2 years at Porter and Chester Institute in Rocky Hill, CT. When I graduated the housing market crashed and I knew I needed to find another way to utilize my new degree. It was then that I decided to switch to the more mechanical side of drafting.

 

What training programs did you partake in that prepared you for your current position? 

The program that most prepared me for my current role was my training in blueprint reading and AutoCAD. Not only had I received a formal education in these spaces during my time at CCSU and Porter & Chester, but I had also gained hands-on experience during my time as a roofer/general laborer.

 

What made you interested in the industry/occupation? How did you get your first job in this industry? 

The manufacturing industry was interesting to me because I always enjoyed the thought of having a hand in making something. Whether it was something small like a weather vane or much larger like a submarine. When I was in the market for a job I utilized my network and was able to secure my first job through a friend. His father was the QC manager at a Connecticut manufacturer and from there I started my training running waterjets.

 

What technical skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis? 

Blueprint reading, reading calipers, and some mechanical skills/knowledge for rebuilds are necessary for being successful in an environment like ICS.  

 

Aside from the technical skills needed, in your opinion what traits does one need to possess to be successful at ICS?

 While technical ability and skill set is important there's more that goes into being an influential member of the ICS team. Our company puts a lot of effort into developing our culture, so it's crucial to have a good work ethic and be loyal. 

 

What parts of your job do you find most challenging? 

Despite what many may think, fixturing is a critical part of waterjet cutting. Proper fixturing can make or break your project and influences the accuracy of the cuts. One of the most challenging technical aspects of waterjet cutting in my opinion is optimizing the fixturing process. The key is ensuring the material is kept sturdy while cutting occurs but it can also easily be swapped out. With large-scale productions, it's important to work as efficiently as possible. 

 

What's most enjoyable? 

I find the ability to interact with new and current customers to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. Trust is such an important part of our company, we want to make sure our customers feel confident bringing their next project to us and ensure they know we will produce quality work promptly. 

 

Do you predict any major shifts in the waterjet cutting industry in the coming years? 

Technology is always evolving day to day, month to month, and year to year. With waterjet still being a fairly new method of cutting, I can see there being changes in its technology in the coming years. My guess is that they will continue to come out with higher pressure pumps, allowing operators to cut at faster speeds while maintaining tighter tolerances. 

 

What does a typical day at ICS look like? What is your favorite feature of the technology that you work with?

Every day varies but most mornings start by catching up on emails and setting up the day for the operators. Things are constantly shifting and changes happen hour to hour at ICS so it's important to stay adaptable. You can usually find me running a machine, setting up cutting files, creating a quote, or speaking with a customer.

 

What is your favorite feature of the technology that you work with?

My favorite feature of the technology we use is probably the flowXpert software. Flow’s platform for 3D modeling is very easy to use and more user-friendly then other programs I have used in the past.

 

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