Manufacturers are helping millenials pass the ‘knowlege’ baton to boomers

CHASKA, Minn. — As Boomers reach their retirement years, manufacturers are trying to make sure they pass along their accumulated wisdom to the incoming Millennial workers. While the younger generation may excel in certain technical skills and what they have learned in school, they have much to learn in terms of the practical skills that are only acquired through years of experience.

PHOTO: Tyler Stusynski, protégé (left) Keith Mickelson, mentor (right) of Super Radiator Coils. Photo provided.

Knowledge transfer

Chaska-based Super Radiator Coils, a venerable heat transfer equipment manufacturer, is passing the torch by pairing soon-to-retire elders with green-around-the-ears whippersnappers who’ll eventually assume their duties — either directly, or in more junior roles.

Keith Mickelson, 69, is Super Radiator Coils’ vice president of engineering. He’s officially slated to retire next year, though he’ll likely have an emeritus role for some time after that.

Mickelson “has seen a lot” over the years. The 1969 U of M grad (mechanical engineering) began his career before computers — “We did lots of work by hand, slide rule and clunky old calculator,” he remembers. Mickelson learned how to calculate coil performance, among other things, from his own mentor, his first employer’s VP of engineering. So goes the Great Circle of Life.

The PC revolution made Mickelson’s life much easier, and much more efficient. He learned to code programs that performed advanced equations automatically. Those programs are among the many bits of knowledge he’s now transmitting to Tyler Stusynski, 30, who’s finishing up his own Master of Engineering degree at the U of M.

Mickelson and Stusynski don’t follow a formal curriculum. “I’m basically just showing him the ropes,” says Mickelson. “He can pick up most of what I’ve developed just by looking at the code.”

READ MORE of this story at Minnesota Business Magazine by Brian Martucci.

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