Part 1 of a three-part series
Even though their work is essential to today’s world, you don’t hear much about the professionals who build and maintain the world’s communications networks. While their exploits may not have the wide interest of reality TV stars or politicians, I bet that you, like me, find them a lot more interesting. Tune into the Cabling Chronicles and follow along with us as we share #CablingStories from around the world.
It’s 1993. Jurassic Park became the highest grossing film in history. People were watching 90210, listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Bjork and Counting Crows were big on FM radio. Intel introduced the Pentium processor and the World Wide Web was introduced and rolled out to the world.
And Vangie Michenzi is starting her career.
“I was about 12 years old,” says Vangie, the Senior Fiber Optic Project Manager with Advanced Communications Technology Services based in Sparks, Nevada.
"My Mom was headhunted out of the satellite industry in the early 1980s to go to work in sales with Fibertron when fiber was just coming to market. Then the dot com boom hit, and my Mom couldn't produce anything fast enough to keep up with all the orders and to keep the customers happy. So, she got me started making jumpers at the kitchen table.”
Since I was mowing lawns at that age, this may explain her depth of fiber expertise as compared to mine. I may know more about lawn care, however.
Later, Fibertron was hired by the IBEW to do fiber optic training at their Junior Apprenticeship Training Centers. This job was a perfect fit for her Mom and Vangie went along, moving up the “career ladder.”
“It’s much easier getting around in any city during rush hour using the car pool lane. So off we went to train electricians! One or two days a week after school, I would teach big burly electricians how to terminate Hot Melt connectors or use a microscope. Funny how things come full circle,” as Vangie shared.
These guys must have realized they’re a long way from Romex-land when they’re being tutored by a woman and her teenage daughter.
As Vangie continues to share, “About that time, I started volunteering to do all the backbone installs at the Interop shows in the 90s. I would go to Interop to work on the network backbone and terminate, terminate, terminate, test with the Network Operations Center (NOC) accordingly, and then the show would go on. Then, when it was all over, I would go back to school.”
But it wasn’t all just fun and games. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake left Central California smoking and shattered, Vangie was there again helping and giving back to her community.
“After the ’89 earthquake hit The Bay Area, the damage to infrastructure was tremendous and the repair was never ending. Buildings were torn down to a space nobody could occupy let alone use. Networks had to be re-built, so I helped the best I knew how,” said Vangie. “I even wound up building the backbone in the high school I ended up going to!”
Jump ahead 25 years. Corning has manufactured enough fiber to reach from the Earth to the sun seven times. Jurassic Park and thousands of films are streamed to consumers worldwide. Nirvana and Pearl Jam mix with Juice WRLD and Ariana Grande on internet radio and music streaming services. The World Wide Web is just the internet with upwards of 25 exabytes of data stored and backed up at over 500,000 data centers worldwide connected by a backbone of millions-of-miles of fiber and copper cabling ringing the globe.
Vangie’s an industry veteran, a fiber testing, certification and troubleshooting expert who Apple made its first fiber tech. Today you can find Vangie managing the teams and/or testing the links on the ground at SuperNAP’s latest data center, in the gold mines under the Rockies, or stepping in to save the day at a 100G installation or a geothermal plant.
Stay tuned for the rest of Vangie’s story and hear how she became one of the most in-demand troubleshooters and OptiFiber Pro OTDR-gun slingers in the industry.
Got a great story you’d like to share? Contact us at FlukeNetworks@onpr.com.