By Caitlin Odell
Corning is an optic company that mainly works with glass to produce mobile consumer electronics, display technology, automotive, and life sciences vessels(1). However, their facility located in Keene is different. They work with plastics for Corning’s aerospace and defense group.
Corning’s Keene Facility
Keene’s industrial sector is known for their use and production of the Diamond Turning Machine. Production of the first commercial DTM came to market in 1981 and was developed by Don Brehm and the staff of Pneumo Precision in Keene, NH. The Diamond Turning Machine includes a computer control system that adjusts hydro-static slides to laser feedback. The machine has a diamond-tipped drill that rotates on a cushion of air. Lasers are used to detect how the diamond tool and metal part come together (3). This development in technology paved the way for high precision optics that are still made at the Corning facility today.
Corning is mainly known for their work with glass around the globe. They produce the damage resistant glass phone displays, optical fiber, and even drug testing when doing DNA analysis. They have many markets. However, their facility in Keene is different. Keene makes products for their aerospace and defense market by using plastics and other soft materials. This part of their company produces about 65% of Corning’s business and Keene is part of that success. They make custom optical components that includes high precision optics(4). This can be done with the Diamond Turning Machine.
Mr. Myrick shared with us that one of his most gratifying moments throughout his career was eight years ago in 2012 when he worked on inspecting silicon wafers. He worked very closely with the customer and helped with the innovation of the product. That project was something that is still in production today. Corning has about 90% of that market. This is extremely important for their success and their ability to produce products that require high precision. Their Keene location is one of the only facilities that would be able to produce a product like this.
I was lucky enough to interview Bruce Myrick on March 10, 2020. He worked at the Corning facility in Keene, New Hampshire for about 30 years. However, the company was not always owned by Corning. He began working at Optical Filter Corp. in 1989. In 1994, he earned his BA in Management & Technical Engineering from Keene State College.
Mr. Myrick stayed at the Keene facility under the management from multiple companies. He claims that when Corning acquired what was NetOptix Diamond Turning at the time, there were not many issues with management and Corning encouraged everyone at the Keene location to stay.
Mr. Myrick was able to be involved in many parts of the company. Before working at the Keene facility (Optical Filter Corporation), Mr. Myrick worked at Simonds Cutting Tools in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. There he learned about metallurgy. This became very useful during his time with Corning because he was one of the only employees that had that expertise. However, before the Corning takeover, Mr. Myrick was part of the technical side of sales. He talked to customers and was essentially the middle man between what the customer wanted, and communicating their needs to engineering. However, after Corning got involved, the job stopped being as technical. Instead, Mr. Myrick began working on the design side of engineering. He tested and produced prototypes and even continued to speak with customers on new innovations.
Well, I was not hands on with the production of that New Horizons components but one of the other things I did was normally the, um, the major photographer for stuff, um, at Corning for most of the time I was there. So I ended up taking pictures of *clears throat* those parts. Um. . . and, um, both the, the components and the assembly as it was being tested. -Bruce Myrick 2020
Mr. Myrick was asked by Micheal Night is he had any experience with the satellites made by Corning that had been sent to Pluto named the New Horizons. I thought it was interesting that even thought Mr. Myrick was an engineer and was not hands on with the project, he was trusted to take the photographs.
New Horizons information can be found here https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/overview/index.html
This facility in Keene did have some layoffs, but it was a little bit later than that and uh. . . so, we definitely laid off like 20 or 30 people, I mean at that facility. I was, fortunately, not one of them because by that time I had quite a bit of experience and um. . . one advantage I had is because I’d worked in a number of different parts of the um. . . the operation. . .I had worked in sales and sort of had gone back to engineering and I had worked with a lot of different customers, had a broad experience. -Bruce Myrick 2020
Mr. Myrick is describing his personal experience with layoffs around 2001 and 2009. However, he explains that layoffs occurred slightly later and is most likely referencing when Corning consolidated it’s two branches in Keene late 2012 (2). He explains that he was kept at the Keene facility due to his wide range of experience with the company. He had skills and specialties that other employees did not have such as sales, metallurgy, customer connections and his engineering experience .
(1) Corning About Us: Our Company. Accessed on April 15, 2020. https://www.corning.com/worldwide/en/about-us/company-profile.html
(2) Foley, M. (2012). Corning Closes Charlestown Facility, reduces workforce. Sentinel Source. Accessed on April 29, 2020. https://www.sentinelsource.com/community/weeklies/spangled_banner/corning-closes-charlestown-facility-reduces-workforce/article_02fd42ae-f880-5a0e-9ed4-2a801d9c6333.html
(3) Duggan, M. 2018. Deindustrialization in the Granite State. Dollars and Sense. Accessed on April 28, 2020. http://dollarsandsense.org/archives/2018/1118duggan.html
(4) Kincade, K. 2003. NetOptix Diamond-turning Business Going Strong. Laser Focus World. https://www.laserfocusworld.com/optics/article/16560477/netoptix-diamondturning-business-going-strong