Jaap van der Plas, Head of Assembly at Celestia-STS
It is an extremely flexible role entailing a wide variety of tasks that I really enjoy. Every day is different…. You are given a great deal of freedom as well as accountability.
Jaap van der Plas is my name and I am the Head of Assembly at Celestia-STS. We put together custom mainframes, racks, harnesses and PCBs. I've spent 16 years working for Celestia, six at Celestia-STS and 10 at SSBV, the business’ previous incarnation.
When I applied for the job, I assumed it would simply involve assembly labour, such as soldering PCBs. In fact, it turned out to be an extremely flexible role entailing a wide variety of tasks that I really enjoy. Every day is different. It's also wonderful that you can share your knowledge with your colleagues about the best ways to complete a task. You are given a great deal of freedom as well as accountability.
Very soon after joining, I realised that it wasn’t just about speed, something which was always drummed into me where I worked before where the focus was all about completing more tasks in a single day. Here, I observed that the important thing was not speed but rather the calibre of your work. We frequently create machinery that must operate continuously, so it is crucial that your work is exceptionally precise and that you are confident in your actions. Quality comes way ahead of quantity.
One day which ranks as one of the best I have had is when we were asked to visit ESA. It was an exciting day and we thought the client really valued the job we had done. They took their time, showing us round all their facilities right down to the clean room!
I always have a good feeling when I get home, but it's especially good when I have completed one of my favourite tasks of assembling a (prototype) PCB. I enjoy watching them develop into the finished result. When you realise that they can be made up of several hundred tiny components, it can be rather difficult. Consequently, using a microscope is essential! And when I finally verify that everything functions as intended or when I finish a mainframe and everything looks perfect, I am extremely proud of my work, especially when a colleague or my manager compliments me.
It is great to know that everyone in the organisation is prepared to assist you if you are new to the team but not particularly experienced in this line of work. We all collaborate. And you are part of the Celestia family from day one.