New Guy to NDT

North Star Imaging Blog

Ross Johnson

Sales Representative

My name is Ross Johnson and I am the “New Guy” to NDT. Now when I say “new” I mean BRAND NEW. After college I started a woodworking business and for a few years I built everything and anything from skateboards to banjo necks. I had jobs in machine shops running Bridgeport’s and lathes and then I moved into Product Development. My time in Quality Control was always limited to comparators, CMM and gages. And because there were never any requirements for non-destructive testing in our industry, I never learned about the different types of NDT. My first experience with X-ray was the X-ray I had of my broken pinky toe when my friend stepped on my foot and sent me in pain to the hospital. It’s amazing how bad such a small broken toe can hurt. But in all my experience with medical X-ray and CT, I never fathomed the possibilities for the non-destructive industrial use.

On my first day with North Star Imaging I was enrolled into the Service and Maintenance training course. This class taught me about all the different components that make up an industrial DR/CT system. Terms like interlock, filament, grease, and gap filled my head for the next 50 hours of book and hands on learning. In my second week at NSI, I took the basic 40 hour DR/CT training course. In this course I learned how X-rays are created and transformed into digital information. We covered signal to noise ratio, X-Ray theory, techniques for sensitivity and contrast, “pennies,” and much more. Please note that if you
find yourself in a class full of level 2’s and level 3’s someday, do not ask the guy next to you, “How do coins test for sensitivity?” The class had a good laugh at my question and it was explained to me; also I was given a new nickname, Penny. The amount of information I was learning was staggering. I studied and reviewed for the test and at the end and came thru
with a 76%, thus completing the course. I was very impressed with the number of experts North Star utilized to teach their training course. This approach helped me understand how complicated and specialized North Stars Imaging’s equipment and its operators are. Training classes are even more accessible now that NSI has remodeled and added computer work station for every student that attends and the classes are now held on a monthly basis.

Learning something new is exciting, frustrating, overwhelming, fantastic and sometimes you can feel a little crazy, but usually you always have those “ah ha” moments when it all clicks together. Suddenly you understand what your colleagues are saying, you no longer feel like you are listening to someone speaking a foreign language when they talk about a new CT application. I had two significant “ah ha” moments I’d like to share. The first one came when I realized that DR and CT are directly related, you can't have CT without DR scans because Computed Tomography works by taking hundreds or thousands of 2D Digital Radiography projections around a 360 degree rotation of an object. Proprietary algorithms are then used to reconstruct the 2D projections into a 3D CT volume, which will allow you to view and slice the part at any angle. It’s pretty amazing! The second “ah ha” moment came to me when I figured out how X-ray works and finally understood the relationship between the tube, the detector and the part.

Even after two weeks of class time and countless hours of studying I am still the “New Guy” in NDT. I am now on the road meeting with customers and operators in the field and I know there is still so much left to learn. But when I have a question I know the many experts back at NSI are just a phone call away and I look forward to furthering my education at NSI.

Do you remember what it was like being the new guy/girl to NDT? What was your “ah ha” moment?

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