Fastlane

August 17, 2009

Sam: builds quality into robots

family

Sam's Family

Sam Vowell, Electrician/Robot Programmer at General Motors Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center
Favorite Musician: Sammy Hagar and all the bands he’s been in over the years including his newest band Chickenfoot
Favorite Movie: It’s A Wonderful Life
Super fan: Detroit Tigers
Clowning around: Inspired by his grandfather, Sam’s a Shriner clown

At GM, my job is to help build and program the robots that make your vehicles.

My job involves wiring and programming robots that will be used in assembly plants around the world. As an electrician, I ensure that the basic robot – many of which we refurbish at a cost savings for GM – have all the necessary wiring to either weld or handle vehicle body parts.

On the programming side, I help ensure each robot works perfectly with other robots as the parts of the car come together. We program and test the robots together to ensure that when they are shipped to an assembly plant they are ready for use.

I and my colleagues at the Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center have been particularly proud of some recent projects. We currently are finishing up a series of weld tool cells for our operations in Brazil, as well as the robotic equipment that will be used in Lordstown, Ohio, to assembly the Chevy Cruze. Currently, I am busy working on the robots that will help assemble the Chevy Volt.

I’m very grateful for the job that I have and the opportunities it has given my family. I’m a fourth generation UAW/GM worker and one thing that was instilled in me from a young age was being thankful for what you have and try to give back as much of yourself as you can in your community.

Clowing around for Shriner's

Clowning around for Shriners

My grandfather was a Shriner and would drive crippled children and their families to the Shrine Hospital in Chicago where they received all their medical treatment free of charge. My father and I have continued on with that legacy by serving as Elf Khurafeh Shrine Clowns at functions throughout the year in an effort to raise funds for the Shrine Hospitals located throughout North America.

I’m also involved with my church and my wife and I even help coach my daughters Little League team. You may have noticed that my favorite movie is “It’s A Wonderful Life” and I guess apart from it being a great movie, I feel I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life and am always looking for things that I can do to help make someone else’s life a little bit better.

Helping to “build” the robots that GM uses can also make for some funny dialogue with my 3-year-old son. Just recently, I was ready to leave for work and Logan woke up and said to me, “Dad, when I get bigger I will go to work with you and help make the nice Transformer robots that turn into GM cars.”

I would love to see that happen one day. – Sam

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