When some people enter the work world, they’re lucky enough to land a job in exactly the field they want.
Other people take a job in some other field and get even luckier, discovering a passion they didn’t know they had.
That’s the case with Navy Chief Petty Officer Ian Acuzar, a computer engineering major in college who enlisted as a hull maintenance technician.
A job – or rating, in Navy-speak – that required welding wasn’t in his plans, but when he learned it, he was hooked. He enjoys it so much that he now teaches welding to others in his spare time.
Installation Training Officer
Olongapo, Philippines and Port Orchard, Wash.
Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan
Talk about your path to becoming a sailor. When and why did you join, and how did you end up as a hull maintenance technician?
My dad served as an aviation storekeeper from 1968 to 1992, and I have a brother who is an aviation boatswain’s mate first class.
I joined 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 interested me due to my background.
Long story short, I didn’t have family in the states and was only living with a family friend. The family was in the process of leaving and I had to ship out early. Eventually my recruiter told me the only way to ship out early was to choose the hull maintenance technician rating and then convert [to a different rating] later on.
I never welded in my life before, but I was top of my class in “A” School. (Note: Sailors go to “A” School after boot camp for technical training in their specific rating.)
You’re currently the installation training officer at Naval Air Facility Misawa, which involves managing exercise requirements and readiness for the facility. But you continue to teach welding on top of your day-to-day work. Why, and how do you make it work with your schedule?
I’ve always taught young sailors to weld and had a great time guiding them on their needs and giving advice. I was offered a part-time job here in the auto hobby shop to be a contracted instructor for their welding program and accepted. I do it after working hours and on weekends and give one-on-one classes upon request.
What do you like about teaching welding, and why do most of the people you’ve taught want to learn it?
I love teaching people that are open and willing to learn. The moment you see them starting to understand and have fun with what they are doing is an awesome experience.
People who come to learn have various reasons – to learn another skill for job opportunities, to fix their car or make modifications, to expand their artistic creativity in their love for art; or just because they are bored here in Misawa. Those are a few of the reasons from my students.
What’s the most interesting or challenging welding project you’ve ever done?
The most interesting welding project has been welding on the weather deck on a ship when there are big swells or waves – makes it a bit fun.
When you’re not teaching people to be self-sufficient welders, what do you do?
Spend time with the family and do my full-time job as a family driver when needed.
Care to talk about your family?
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 all three of my children so much and want them to explore and decide on whatever they want to do. Maybe that is why I haven’t taught them welding yet – they haven’t asked, and they are still distracted on certain things that children and teens are busy with these days. I want them to enjoy their lives and will always be here to teach them whatever they want to learn when or if they want to.