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A tribute to Paul Studebaker, my mission-maker

Oct. 1, 2021
The loss of Paul Studebaker is another example that not only are we losing practitioners but also industry advocates.

Nothing like learning of the loss of a mentor to make one reevaluate life's course forward and become more grateful for all of their support!

Today, I just learned of the passing of Paul Studebaker, former editor of Plant Services Magazine. For over 20 years I had a wonderful engineering media mentor who helped me formulate my path forward to addressing what would become my life’s mission to build the next generation of skilled technicians. Paul challenged me for over a decade to fill a monthly segment called the Crisis Corner by sharing details and strategies to address the skills and maintenance crises. Paul’s editorial prowess helped convert my poor grammar and spelling challenged thoughts into coherent value-added strategies to help guide readers to build the pipelines of skilled technicians.

The loss of Paul Studebaker is another example that not only are we losing practitioners but also industry advocates to nudge us forward to rebuild the pipelines of techs that we desperately need to advance our society forward.

So the Crisis Corner column became more than just a regular editorial piece, this became my life’s mission to build the next generation of skilled technicians. Early on, I wrote monthly pieces, created the Maintenance Crisis Song, told everyone possible that we are in a maintenance crisis and we have got to do something now and can't continue to be complacent.

After five years of crying out for more to take action, publisher Mike Brenner challenged me not to just scream about the problem but to start focusing on solutions. At first Mike’s directive was a serious challenge because at that time, I did not know of any solutions. But later with Paul’s guidance, I started uncovering novel approaches and unique solutions. Later uncovered the maker movement and I transitioned from being a maintenance evangelist to serving as a Maker’s Maker by setting up and coaching community workshops (a.k.a. Makerspaces) to become more involved and supported in their communities.

However, one of the most poignant moments with my time with Paul was when I debriefed him from my trip to the U.S. Congressional Forum where I played the Maintenance Crisis Song and met with all kinds of government, business and media leaders. That debriefing became the column Mr. Leonard Goes to Washington column which later won the Gold Award from American Business Publishers Awards.

Paul at first was not aware of the Maintenance Crisis but later became a key ally in helping leaders better appreciate the magnitude and need for workforce development. Never would I have ever thought then, that now that I would be leading after school programs with a $100,000 truck and mobile makerspaces in rural and underserved communities by actually planting seeds to grow the pipelines of talent to fuel future growth and prosperity forward.

Thanks Putman Media’s Paul Studebaker for your guidance and mentorship in helping me hone my thoughts to a valued mission to impact our future! That is just a small part of your legacy Paul Studebaker! I only hope that more will be inspired to continue that mission too. Thank you!

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