“Everyone you meet has a story, and getting to hear those stories was very inspiring.”
“Say you’re out in the middle of the ocean with a crew of 20 people or less. If something fails on the vessel, you have to be prepared to correct the issue efficiently,” Brinn Ruiz explained.
As a watercraft engineer, Ruiz became proficient in electrical, HVAC, welding and diesel mechanics through extensive testing and real-time experience. He recalls that there was a lot of pressure to learn and hone these trades quickly. The experience also shaped his leadership skills.
“My grandfather was the one who encouraged me to join the military,” Ruiz recalled. He remembers the day his grandfather sat him down and had an honest conversation with him. Both of Ruiz’s grandparents were hard workers on the overnight shift. After Ruiz started bringing home a “B” average on his report cards, his grandfather had to level with him.
“I think you should join the military to find your calling,” he said.
That weekend, Ruiz called a recruiter and found the start of his calling in the United States Army as an 88L Watercraft Engineer. He knew that eventually he wanted to get a degree in engineering, and this opportunity was the path he needed to embark on his journey to becoming an engineer.
During his deployment at sea, he learned very quickly how to be an innovative problem solver by only working with the tools accessible to him aboard the ship. If the tool wasn’t available? He and his crewmates would make it and figure out a way to fix any issues.
Although the work itself provided valuable experience, he says the best part of his time served was the people he worked with.
“I mean, you have a group of strong-minded people coming from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. It taught me a lot about myself and a lot about the world I thought I knew. Everyone you meet has a story, and getting to hear those stories was very inspiring,” Ruiz remarked.
At Jefferson Lab, Ruiz is an electrical technician in the Cryogenics group. He admits that even though he is given more freedom to perform the job the way he believes is the most efficient at the lab, he sometimes sees parallels between his role at the lab and his role in the military.
“At the lab, we work with a lot of liquid helium. Because this is so specialized and unique, a lot of the parts we receive need to be modified, because they aren’t made to interact with helium. We have to brainstorm the best way to get the job done right,” Ruiz said.
Thank you for your service, Brinn Ruiz!
View the Jefferson Lab "Salute to Veterans" poster here: https://www.jlab.org/sites/default/files/VetDayPoster2021_TabloidD1.pdf
By: Rebecca Anderson