When some people enter the working world, they have the chance to land a job in exactly the field they want.
Other people take a job in another field and have even better luck discovering a passion they didn’t know they had.
Such is the case of Navy Chief Petty Officer Ian Acuzar, a computer engineering student at university who enlisted as a hull maintenance technician.
A job – or qualification, in Navy lingo – that required welding wasn’t in his plans, but when he found out about it, he was hooked. He loves it so much that he now teaches welding to others in his spare time.
Installation Training Agent
Olongapo, Philippines and Port Orchard, Wash.
Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan
Talk about your journey to becoming a sailor. When and why did you join and how did you become a hull maintenance technician?
My father was an aviation storekeeper from 1968 to 1992, and I have a brother who is an aviation mate.
I joined the team in August 2002 after graduating from college in the Philippines. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering in 2002. The Information System Technician rating is what I was interested in because of my background.
Long story short, I had no family in the US and only lived with a family friend. The family was leaving and I had to ship early. Eventually my recruiter told me that the only way to ship early was to choose the Hull Maintenance Technician qualification and then convert [to a different rating] later.
I had never welded in my life before, but I was first in my class at “A” school. (Note: Sailors go to “A” school after boot camp for technical training in their specific rating.)
You are currently an Installation Training Officer at Naval Air Facility Misawa, which involves managing exercise requirements and installation readiness. But you continue to teach welding in addition to your daily work. Why and how do you make it work with your schedule?
I have always taught young sailors how to weld and had a great time guiding them on their needs and giving them advice. I was offered a part-time job here in the automotive tinkering shop to be a contract instructor for their welding program and accepted. I do it after hours and on weekends and give private lessons on request.
What do you love about teaching welding and why do most people you have taught want to learn it?
I enjoy teaching people who are open and eager to learn. The moment when you see them start to understand and have fun with what they are doing is a great experience.
People who come to learn have various reasons – to learn another skill for job opportunities, to fix their car or make modifications, to develop their artistic creativity in their love for art; or simply because they are bored here in Misawa. These are some of the reasons for my students.
What is the most interesting or difficult welding project you have ever done?
The most interesting welding project has been welding on the weather deck of a ship when there are big swells or waves – it’s kind of fun.
When you’re not teaching people to become self-employed welders, what are you doing?
Spending time with family and doing my full time job as a family driver when needed.
Want to talk about your family?
I married the love of my life, Gayle. We were childhood friends. We have been together for almost 28 years. We have two sons, Jaiden, 16, and Gage, 7, and a beautiful daughter, Geia, 13.
Have you started teaching any of your children how to weld or do you plan to?
No not yet. I love my three children so much and want them to explore and decide what they want to do. Maybe that’s why I haven’t taught them how to solder yet – they haven’t asked for anything and they’re still distracted by some of the things that keep kids and teens busy these days. I want them to enjoy their life and I will always be there to teach them what they want to learn when or if they want.