Ongoing education is essential for engineers trying to keep pace with nonstop technological developments. But some people make it their mission to help keep others abreast of the changes too.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers has named Jeff Welton, CBRE, to receive the James C. Wulliman SBE Educator of the Year Award for 2018. The honor recognizes outstanding service and excellence in sharing knowledge through teaching other broadcast engineers.
Welton is the central U.S. sales manager for Nautel. Growing up on a farm in rural Nova Scotia, Welton was urged by his parents to explore and experiment with new things.
“I put together a Radio Shack crystal set, which I used to listen to the rock stations in Halifax. I furthered by education in electronics around age 13, when my father put up an electric fence. I found out the hard way what an electric fence can do.”
Welton completed basic electronics and high school physics but originally planned on becoming a small engine mechanic. “Then I talked with a recruiter for the new Radio College of Canada that was opening in Toronto.”
In 1990, Welton was hired by Nautel as a field support engineer. “Previously, the tech support had been done by engineering, so this was a new position at Nautel. I stayed in field support for 17 years. It’s a stressful job, and most people burn out after 10 years. Then I was offered a position in sales, and a chance to get into marketing. And I’ve been there ever since.”
Welton recalls that the transition into training and education was more a series of accidents than a planned career move. “In the early ’90s, Nautel was on CompuServe. I was assigned to monitor the site and answer any questions that came up. My parents were both teachers, so I feel compelled to tell everyone the answers to questions. Being on the sales end led to attending more trade shows, so I started signing up to give presentations, and it just took off.”
While many of his presentations are driven by the work at Nautel, Welton also draws inspiration from his occasional duties as co-engineer at CKVE(FM), a community broadcaster in Hubbard, Nova Scotia. “We have an all-volunteer staff, most with no prior broadcast experience. That colors a lot of what I do, and it reminds me of the value in keeping things simple.”
When he’s not working on or talking about transmitters, Welton has a number of hobbies. He does a good bit of gardening, has a fully equipped woodworking shop, and enjoys fishing and walking his two dogs. He has restored two Zenith console radios from the 1970s, and has a growing vinyl collection that numbers in the hundreds.
While many of Welton’s seminars are about transmitter safety, he is quick to remind attendees that they are often driven by lessons learned the hard way. “Ninety-nine percent are the result of my blowing something up. Fortunately, Nautel transmitters are low-voltage devices, so I am still alive to give these seminars.”
The SBE’s educator award is named for James C. Wulliman, a past president of the SBE who helped found the society’s certification program.