Practitioner Profile: Peter Pelayo

Peter Pelayo currently holds an ASNT NDT Level III certificate and works in quality assurance at Met-L-Chek. He has over a decade of experience in quality certification and operation, most recently in the field of aviation and aerospace. Pelayo is a smart and enthusiastic member of the NDT community, and he promotes industry knowledge and community on his blog, Sharing NDT. 

Q.  How did you begin your career in NDT?

A. My career in NDT started my freshman year in high school at Don Bosco Technical Institute’s materials science program. During my freshman and sophomore years, I took NDT and really liked it. I decided to take 101 courses for MT, PT, and RT at night during my junior year so I could get a job when I graduated. My first job was at Arrowhead Products (Los Alamitos, California) doing PT and RT Level I work. I have worked at aerospace companies, refineries, forging plants, heat treatment plants, and plating shops over the past 10 years.

Q.  Do you have ASNT certification?

A. I hold an ASNT NDT Level III certificate and have taken several Level III refresher courses. I plan on retaking the PT Level III exam before the year ends. I have a B.B.A. and plan on going for my M.B.A. in 2017.

Q.  Describe the work you do. What are your responsibilities?

A. As the quality assurance manager for Met-L-Chek, I am slowly taking over the responsibility to ensure that the proper procedures, codes, and standards are followed during the manufacturing of magnetic particle and liquid penetrant materials.

Q.  What is your working environment? 

A. I work in a dual-mode environment. I am involved in the manufacturing process as well as the laboratory process that qualifies and certifies our products for use. Our materials have to meet very stringent chemical properties for safe and effective use, so I take a hands-on approach to better apply myself.

Q.  What kind of structures/materials are you testing?

A. At the FAA repair station I worked for, we inspected hydraulics, valve bodies, pneumatics, cylinders, pistons, landing gears, and propeller assemblies with MT and PT. Most of the heavy hardware components were 13-8PH, 15-5PH, 17-4PH, and 4000 series steels. Other materials that we tested were chrome, cadmium, nickel, silver, aluminum, inconel, magnesium, and titanium.

Q.  What kind of indications are you looking for?

A. For the aerospace parts that were coming out of service for repair and overhaul, we were looking for cracks, corrosion, bent threads, burns, and excessive wear/damage from service. After the chrome plating and machining process, NDT was used to detect grinding cracks, grinding burns, banding, spiraling, hot spot cracks, excessive “chicken wire,” non-clean up, and pitting.

Q.  What codes and/or standards must you be knowledgeable of?

A. The specifications that we used were ASTM, Boeing, Honeywell, and Hamilton Sundstrand specifications and procedures. As a company, we also had to meet the requirements of AS9100, FAA, EASA, and CASE.

Q.  Is your work focused on a particular field?

A. My work is not focused on one particular field because NDT is really a broad subject, even for a small industry. At work I focus on chemical manufacturing, quality, production, and management. In my personal time, I write an NDT blog (@sharingndt on Instagram), which covers how NDT works in manufacturing and engineering. I cover topics related to welding, machining, plating, flaw interpretation, metallurgy, UT, PT, RT, and MT, what others are doing in the field, and job postings. I’m also on the board for the Los Angeles Section. As the webmaster and secretary, I’m working with my local Section on ideas to get younger students involved in ASNT.

Q.  How important is a college degree?

A. This is an interesting question because not all degrees are created equal. I believe what is most important is knowing that you applied yourself and finished what you started in your professional and academic goals.

Q.  What's been your most interesting application of NDT?

A. The most interesting application that I have been a part of in NDT has been in the creation of technique sheets and procedures. Not all industries, companies, parts, and customer requirements are the same, so it takes a lot of research to get things right. When you begin the research process, you start learning about business, policies, metallurgy, manufacturing, component maintenance manuals, quality systems, people, and how it impacts NDT. I find it interesting how it all comes together to make a quality product in the industry as a whole.

Q.  What do you consider the growth areas of NDT?

A. Right now, I see a tremendous amount of growth in ultrasonic testing and the welding industry. Not too long ago, I remember seeing only a little shear wave testing; it seems like it’s everywhere now. The same goes for welding. The welding industry is introducing so many new techniques and technologies and UT follows right behind it. I also see more potential growth in the field of digital radiography and advanced corrosion detection technologies.

Q.  What are your professional goals?

A. My professional goals include obtaining my master’s degree in business, becoming ISO 9000 certified, and passing the PT Level III exam. I am unsure if I want to be a full-time consultant after this. There is still so much to learn in this industry.

Q.  What's the best part of NDT?

A. This industry has great people. It’s what made me want to join the Los Angeles Section board. I enjoy seeing what other people are doing in the industry, not just inspection. It’s interesting to hear the different stories about how people started, why they get involved, and also what it means to those that are certified inspectors and teachers.

Q.  What's the most difficult part of NDT?

A. The most difficult part of NDT is explaining the difference between relevant, non-relevant, and false indications to your bosses or coworkers. “Why is this a crack and not this? Why did you pass this but not that? What’s the difference between this indication and that one?” These are very difficult questions to answer, but they are logical and valid questions that deserve our best interpretation. As a Level III you are expected to know all the answers relating to NDT matters, but nobody can know everything. Many manufacturing methods are proprietary and sometimes you can’t find the information you are looking for.

Q.  What can industry do to encourage careers in NDT?

A. There needs to be a general consensus among engineers and manufactures of the need and importance for NDT. I don’t believe that NDT is exclusive in the manufacturing processes, but rather inclusive. It’s directly impacted by all the processing steps that took place before it. More science, technology, engineering, and mathematic programs should raise awareness of the importance of NDT because NDT protects assets and people from disasters.

Q.  What advice would you offer to individuals considering careers in NDT?

A. The greatest piece of advice that I could give, which is coming from my own experience, is to be a lifelong learner. This means taking up other jobs at your company when NDT is slow (which happens), taking courses to advance from Level I to III, and participating in ASNT functions. It’s also important to read articles, magazines, and books. The best piece of advice I can give new technicians is to listen to experienced professionals in this industry for guidance.

You can reach Peter Pelayo at