Sean Datusch

Sep 7, 2023 hireCNC

My CNC Story - Sean Datusch

Sean's CNC Story

hireCNC: Brian Warren (Precision Machining program coordinator) recommended you as a feature for the blog. You were in the Marine Corps for several years and enrolled in his Precision Machining program thereafter. Where did machining fit in? Were you exposed to it prior to your service? How was the transition from the Marine Corps to a machining program. 

Sean: Honestly, it was dumb luck. I was in Meridian at the MSU Meridian campus across from where Brian's class was. My uncle was the VA (Veteran’s Affairs) rep there. I was bouncing ideas off him about what I wanted to do. Whether I wanted to be a cop. I wanted to stay physical but had no interest in going to school. 

A guy named Thomas Upchurch came in and suggested I talk to Brian. I asked what he taught, and Thomas said, “don’t worry about that- just talk to him. Let him know what you’re interested in and see if it’s a fit.” 

It was right next door. I walked over, and Brian's just sitting there, T shirt and shorts in the summer, just hanging out, up there at the college, doing schoolwork, getting things ready. And he says, “So why are you here?” 

I told him I had no idea and was told to talk to him. And after talking to him for five to ten minutes, I was sold. 

In Mississippi, machining is a very big part of industry. It pays extremely well compared to other parts of the country. 

And that's kind of what drew me to it at first, was money. If you can make money doing something that people retire to do, it can’t be too bad. 

After I got into his class, I realized that I was really good at code. I fell into that part of it. The first year of his class was manual, and the second year was CNC, including programming. 

We got into the CNC side, and he does all this coding by hand in class. I just fell in love with that part of it. That’s what I stuck with once I got out, as well. 


hireCNC: Was it a surprise that coding came naturally to you? Were there any previous experiences where you thought maybe you'd be good at that type of thing, or you just found out at the college that you caught on quickly to that? 

Sean: I had zero experience with any type of computer programming or anything like that, and I had no idea what code was, but just reading it- I'm able to build pictures in my mind. I just take a stock and whatever the code is doing in my head, I'm actually making that picture in my mind as I'm going through the code and programming. So, it was just easy for me to make the parts in class in my head, and I could replicate that into the machining. 


hireCNC: Brian made an impact on you quickly. If you were to talk to somebody that was in the Marine Corps or in your type of position prior to meeting Brian, and you had two minutes to talk, what would you say to get them interested in a career in machining. 

Sean: I'm not going to say it's a clique, but it's more of a family. Once you're in with those guys, it's kind of the same. We're all a little weird is how I look at it. I haven't met a machinist where I just couldn't come up and have a conversation with them and we didn't have some type of bond there. That's what I was looking for. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I had a family there and Brian kind of sold me on that as well. He was like, “I promise you, no matter where you go to work, you'll have a connection with the guys you're working with”. And so far, it's true. 


hireCNC: What do you think Brian did so well in his program at Meridian?  

Sean: It was probably my biggest complaint as well. He throws you to the wolves.  

He makes you think about your issues and doesn't give you the answers. When you're on the floor and actually working, somebody's not there holding your hand. Especially guys coming from high school to college, they're so used to being led to every answer. 

Brian, he would just look at you and say, “figure it out.” 

Many times, he just tossed you a book, and say, “It's probably in there somewhere.”  

You just got to look for the answer, figure it out yourself and think. That's what he did extremely well. He would lead you to the answers without giving you too much and make you develop those thought processes where you're thinking through the procedure- having to figure out where your problems are starting from and not just giving you the solution to your questions. 


hireCNC: What was the transition like from Meridian Community College into industry? And how did you make your decision on where you wanted to work? 

Sean: Six months before I graduated COVID hit, and we had a weird “wall” at the end of the school year. I took a tour down to the coast which is about 3 hours away from where the program was stationed. He had no students go down to the coast prior to this. We had done a tour down there and it was just this little mom and pop shop called HighTech, where they were trying to start a machine shop on the side. There was one guy working there named Eddie Adams that was a machinist, and he was just trying to get this shop started. He sold me on the fact that I could be an integral part of getting this thing up and running. And everything they coded- they did it by hand. 

I would be able to code my own parts and continue to grow in the part of the industry I enjoyed doing. Not just being an operator and running parts- I actually got to make the parts from start to finish. That's the part that sold me on going there. And so, I picked up and moved across the state to go work where I knew nobody and just kind of figured it out. 


hireCNC: Do you have any advice for somebody that's in a college program and would be looking to make their transition into full-time industry?  

Sean: I can tell you the experiences that me and my other students I went to school with have had. We've all hit different places in the industry. The experiences I've had allowed me to grow more. I'm further along than some of the guys I graduated with- in different facets of the industry- because I've been exposed to more by going to those small shops and being relied on more heavily than going to a bigger shop and just being a number. 

Going to a smaller shop is where I recommend starting off. If you want to learn and like having to figure things out. You're going to mess up. You're going to make your mistakes, but that's how you learn.  

The processes aren't just set in stone and you're not just coming in and pressing a button every day. 


hireCNC: Are there any preconceived notions that we as an industry need to set straight regarding CNC Machining? Anything we need to change or correct for the outsiders looking in? 

Sean: I don't think the spotlight is on Machining when you think of blue-collar work. I didn't know anything about Machining before I graduated or before I got to college. When I grew up, there were electricians, welders that you hear about when you're in high school, but around where I'm from, you don't ever hear about Machining. I had zero exposure. I had no idea it even existed. So, I guess as an industry, we need to get the word out about what we're doing because we're seeing a lull in Machinists. It's hard to find guys who do what we do- at least where I'm at- and that can do the work. We can get the word out to younger guys to get them in. That's where we're at right now. I'm seeing a huge disparity in old guys compared to the generation we're at now. When those old guys retire, it's going to be very hard, to fill those shoes, because you just don't have the guys who are interested in it. 


hireCNC: I’ve spoken with employers who mentioned veterans being good candidates for Machining roles and I just want to ask why you thought that might be. Why would veterans be specifically well suited to a career in Machining? 

Sean: If I had to give you my opinion on it, it would be the fact that in the military, we're taught to think and given some responsibility in your career. I did four years, but by the end of my four years, I was put in charge of other people- making decisions on the way they live their life and things that happen to them.  

In the machine shop, you're not just a robot. There are always problems that are coming up. You need to think and make those decisions before you ever even get used to a work setting like this. Just having that already ingrained in you where you think for yourself transfers over to this type of work, because if you're not able to make quick decisions, you kill production times, causing a cluster on the floor, which is not what you want in any type of workspace. 


hireCNC: Is there any technology in the next five to ten years, or new skills you're excited to learn more about? 

Sean: I'm interested to see how production can be affected by the implementation of robotics. I haven't worked with any of it up until recently. Now we have a little bit of it here and there, and we're adding more and more as we go. How it affects production and how it can increase production times. The ways that they can use it to do different things is extremely interesting to me, especially with the way it's coded. 

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