The Professor’s Assistant Has Come a Long Way

Today, I’m writing one of my last regular blogs for EXAIR. Since the Professor has moved on to his higher calling, I have started working for EXAIR as a design engineer. In 2008 I was a design engineering co-op student for EXAIR. I didn’t know anything about air. I had to learn the difference between CFM (cubic feet per minute), SCFM (standard cubic feet per minute) and ACFM (actual cubic feet per minute). I had to learn that a 1/4 pipe does not measure 1/4″ anyway you measure. I found out the hard way to point the 1116 Super Air Nozzle toward the ground, because it will lift ceiling tiles in short order. EXAIR stuck with me as a co-op to allow me time to grow and learn. At the same time EXAIR continued to grow and expand as well. Once my co-op turns were over, I left EXAIR at the end of 2009. I finished my degree and got some experience outside the company. In 2013, I rejoined EXAIR as an Application Engineer.

I have been writing entries for the EXAIR blog for two years. Looking back through my most viewed posts, I see topics on Air Knivescomplying with OSHA, and Videos. I also see an accomplishment, Product of the Year Award Winner. Third on the list though is On the Job Training: Internships and Co-ops. I wrote this blog with “The Professor” in mind…

I had just learned that he was leaving EXAIR and it made me pause for a time to think about “The Professor”. He was the driving force behind the Co-op program here at EXAIR. In doing so he was sticking his neck out. I’m sure first on his mind was getting someone who could do his dirty work. No one wants to test Line Vacs in the summer. It is hot and messy work. “The Professor” wasn’t above getting dirty, but I think he wanted to be.

But in hiring a Co-op, he wasn’t just making his life easier. Everyone will attest I had a lot to learn. In the first year of working with “The Professor”, he spent as much time training me as I spent producing useable material. I like to think he ultimately got more out of me than he put it in, but training Co-ops is quite an investment in time.

In moving over to design engineering, I feel much more confident that I will be able to teach our new Co-ops a good way of doing their work. It is such a leg a up to have spent time in their shoes. “The Professor” ultimately never got to benefit from me working for him as a engineer. The work he put in training several Co-ops has been an excellent investment in the future, and I hope more companies follow his example.

Dave Woerner
Design Engineer/Application Engineer/Co-op


Farewell from Professor Penurious

Myself, Dan Preston (AKA: Professor Penurious) and My Amazing Wife
Myself, Dan Preston (AKA: Professor Penurious) and My Amazing Wife

Life rarely ever goes as any of us plans it.  It’s full of peaks and valleys, and, on occasion, plateaus of peace and serenity.  Sometimes life is spontaneous and fun! Other times, chaotic and painful.  Some things, like who you fall in love with and spend the rest of your life with can’t be planned out ahead of time.  Some things, like education, careers, and retirement, can be.  And sometimes, things beyond us change those plans completely.  Occasionally, it’s for the worse, but I am inclined to think that, for the most part, it’s for the better.  So it goes.

After serving for 10 years as the Engineering Manager for EXAIR corporation, I will be pursuing a new course in life.  It wasn’t one that I sought, but rather, it sought me.  Friday, July the 10th marked my retirement from engineering. Today, I started training for the full time ministry.

When I first came to EXAIR, there was no doubt in my mind that it was answered prayer.  I had worked for small companies and Fortune 500 companies alike before coming here, and there was no doubt in my mind where I wanted to settle down and spend the rest of my engineering life.  I wanted to work for a small, family owned business that genuinely cared for its employees, that actually manufactured durable goods here in Cincinnati, and that was close to home.  I was blessed to find all three.

The work here at EXAIR was always interesting.  Developing new products, redesigning existing ones, tracking down root causes of failure and cost accounting are just some of the things I did here as an engineer.  And although designing custom products was always my favorite part of the engineering side of this job, where else could I get paid to be Professor Penurious? Good times indeed.

But what I really learned while working for the smartest guy I’ve ever known, is how a successful organization is run, en masse.  From the outwardly perceivable things like manufacturing, procurement, marketing, sales, order entry, accounting, etc. to the unquantifiable, like how to treat employees, customers and vendors.  Like the rest of life, sometimes it goes according to plan, and sometimes you fly by the seat of your pants.  But if you’re always honest, diligent and sincere, you can rest easy at night knowing you’ve done the right thing.  These are skills I’m confident will serve me well in my new job, and I’d like to thank all of you, especially Bryan Peters, for helping me learn them.

I had no intention of leaving EXAIR one second before I turned 59 ½ (if the stock market was good to me…)  I quickly became good friends with everyone here and even during difficult times, I knew this was the job for me.  It’s not that I wanted to leave here, far from it!  But my path forward is clear and undeniable.  I will miss the interesting customers and helpful suppliers, but mostly, I’ll miss the wonderful people I worked alongside this last decade.  I can say sincerely and without hesitation that I love each and every one of you.

EXAIR has changed my life for the better.  I hope that in some way, I have done the same for EXAIR.  So it goes.  So I go.

Dan Preston
Engineering Manager (ret.)
EXAIR Corporation

On the Job Training: Internships, and Co-ops

Many news organizations and trade magazines have spilled an incredible amount of ink extolling America’s reshoring efforts. A number of manufacturing jobs that had once been sent overseas have returned to American soil. This is great for millennials and Generation Z (or Digital Natives). Unfortunately, millennials don’t have the training to complete the jobs that their parents and grandparents once mastered. Companies are now looking for people to staff manufacturing positions that may not have existed 15 years ago. Or if the job exists, it wasn’t available, because a baby boomer with 20 years of experience held the position. With baby boomers retiring, and new manufacturing jobs developing, there is a dearth of experienced, talented trades men or women available. The question becomes who will fill these positions.

It seems pretty clear to me that universities, high schools, and community colleges can’t train the new crop of manufacturing workers. They are going to need some help. Companies can contribute material, equipment, and trainers with experience to train the next generation of engineers, production supervisors, machinists, welders, tradesmen and women. EXAIR has teamed with the University of Cincinnati and their Co-Op program by employing multiple co-ops for a number of years. A few of them, like myself, now work at EXAIR full time. We have even featured our co-ops in numerous Professor Penurious videos – I can guarantee that we didn’t hire them for their “acting.” EXAIR has taken an interest in a number of engineering students that wish to work for a company, who designs, manufacturers, and ships products from right here in the USA.

Now I may not be the most unbiased source of information. I got my start at EXAIR as a co-op working for the professor before he was the professor. “The Professor” has led EXAIR’s engineering department and internship program since 2008 and I was the first co-op. As I went through engineer classes, fluids and heat transfer were two of my least favorite classes, but through EXAIR, I was able to learn more about real world applications. I was able to put importance to my problems. I like to think that I was able to bring some outside knowledge and perspective to this company, and they have been able to train me into a serviceable application engineer.

I encourage other companies to consider training, internships, and mentor programs. There are some things that only experience can teach. For instance, I had the task of testing several of our Line Vacs to learn their conveyance rate. While I was testing tumbling media moving 100 feet away, I learned that the Line Vac can easily move tumbling media 100 feet and then some. I also learned that you will need to secure your Line Vac conveyance hose to prevent additional time cleaning up the test area.


While I was testing, the outlet hose of the Line Vac came loose from the outlet receptacle. Once the outlet hose came loose, I discovered that a Line Vac can convey enough material to cover a 40 foot circle with tumbling media in about a minute and a half.  That day I learned three things.

Just a small portion of tumbling media which contributed to my co-op education…


  1. A Line Vac can convey tumbling media at least 140 feet.

  2. Sweeping a 40 foot radius takes a Co-op about half a day.

  3. Secure your discharge hose well, don’t skimp on the duct tape.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer

Professor Penurious: A Day In The Life Of The Co-Op

Our brave co-ops, from the University of Cincinnati, weather all of the usual tasks and exercises that we throw at them – then we throw them to the Professor. We recently had some complaints from our current co-op which led us to capture this hidden camera footage*.

  • No co-ops were harmed in the making of this video – it’s a joke people! This is not hidden camera footage, it’s just that amateur. 

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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