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Stacey Vanek Smith: This week at Marketplace, we’re looking at how technology is changing the American workforce in a series called Robots Ate My Job. Today, we hear from David Novak Jr., a robot technician at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Plant in southern Indiana.
David Novack, Jr.: Robots are basically pretty dumb.
(in the shop) Every robot has its job, and if that job doesn’t work, we have to figure out why.
You have to tell it to go from point A to point B tell it, to weld here and there and everywhere else.
We’ll take you down to the first part of the tack line.
The area that I work in is the what they call the underbody, so basically, when you’re driving down the road, if you’re sitting on it, that’s something that I had something to do with.
That van right there has a front sunroof with a roof rack. The next one is going to have a regular roof.
In my senior year in high school, I was bound and determined I wanted to be a school teacher but as my mom always said, I had champagne taste on a beer budget.
This is a maintenance workstation here, anything we should need to do, we can do from this computer.
So a friend of mine came into school and he brought a robot into our computer programming class and I watched him enter some machine language and watched this robot do a little dance and I thought, ‘That was pretty neat.’ And once he described there’s always going to be a job, you’re guaranteed good salaries, I decided to go for that instead.
If the one on the side is going red, that means that means there’s a problem with the robot on that side of the line. Like right now, there’s a problem down there.
The robots are also doing jobs that are more dangerous. If somebody tried to carry a weld guns all day long and do these welds, they’re going to end up within a year and a half, two years, they’re not going to be able to move their arms because their shoulders are bad. I wouldn’t want to be that person, so I would rather have a robot doing it than somebody else doing it, suffering.
Each position this robot welds, somebody has to teach it.
Whenever I left my field service job, before I’d even got on the interstate I’d had another job, so I was without a job for 10 minutes. So you will never be unemployed. That’s just the way I’ve found things to be.
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