May 2013
Interview

AutomatedBuildings.com

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.
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Abel RamirezEMAIL INTERVIEW Abel Ramirez and Ken Sinclair

Abel B Ramirez II - Creator and Author, TheControlsFreak.com

Abel has been working within the Controls and Building Automation industry since 1998 and has since moved up the ranks from doing field install and graphics/programming to managing engineering/design and training. He began his career not knowing what HVAC even stood for, but leveraged his self-taught computer and electronics skills combined with fast learning and a drive to succeed to excel in his new found career. During this time he has worked in various locales across the United States working on typical and critical controls systems in numerous facilities such as schools, hospitals, office buildings, military and government installations. In addition to his full-time employment Abel enjoys making videos and writing articles that help educate and inform others about the Controls and Automation Industry.



A New Way to Learn About Controls and Building Automation

The site has a big push towards the education and training side of things as well as a place to show off what controls and building automation is all about.


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Sinclair: What is The Controls Freak website all about?

Ramirez: I started the website at the beginning of 2012 with the idea it was going to be just a personal blog about what controls people do. I always enjoyed the times when we hired a new field technician that knew nothing about controls, but wanted to learn. To me it's exciting and rewarding to see someone you help learn the industry, really take off.

The best example of this recently was a young man named Cody Gray that I gave my decision to hire solely based on the fact that he used the mouse wheel to zoom in and out when I asked him to do some simple tasks in Visio during his interview. Seriously... There's more to that story, but my decision was made after that. Lucky for him, he was surrounded by a couple of talented controls people who didn't hold back from sharing with him everything they knew. He now has moved back to his home state of Montana and got a great position with another integrator using the same controls line, Delta Controls, and is doing great things for them. There is no doubt in my mind that Cody will not be going back to doing auto body work (yeah that's what his last job was when I hired him), but rather continue to build on his experience in the Controls industry.

So, definitely the site has a big push towards the education and training side of things as well as a place to show off what controls and building automation is all about. Not many people or graduating students have a clue that this industry even exists and all the opportunities available within it. From the muscle of the field techs doing rough-in and commissioning checkouts to the office personnel doing the heavy lifting in code and CAD design drawings, there are plenty of varied positions to be had.

Sinclair: Is there a way for your visitors to interact with you or each other?

Ramirez: Two way communication is definitely important in any kind of training or education because people always have questions or comments. Problem is our industry is only now becoming techie and not many are used to using blog type websites so the comments after every article don't get used as much as I would like to see.

To help with providing more options for dialogue I started The Controls Freak Message Forums in January 2013, which provides an even easier way to contribute to discussions and answer questions for those not shy about posting a new thread.

I am constantly getting emails with very detailed questions about needing help with heat load calculations in Arizona or questions about advice on how to find a job in controls. These are the kinds of questions that the message forums were designed for so that more than just myself can give input and feedback and others can then read those answers as well.

Sinclair: Who are the people that should be visiting The Controls Freak?

Ramirez: Well, being that the site is focused on training, education and exploring the industry, I think anyone can benefit from visiting. Those who are new to the industry or are looking to get in can read articles or watch videos on the YouTube Channel and pick up some new ideas or ask some questions. Those who are already in the industry or who work with the makers of controls devices can provide their insight and answer some of the questions posed by the new people.

Facilities and other support personnel that work with controls systems are also very eager to learn more about the systems they have to maintain every day and they are always looking to see what other systems and new devices are out there that will make their job easier.

Reliable Controls Sinclair: Do you accept articles from outside sources?

Ramirez: I have not posted any at this time, but yes, just like your site I would like to begin accepting written articles from others. However, the types of articles I would like to see submitted would be helpful, informative and a bit more... dare I say 'FUN'? I am not a great writer, my grammar is sometimes lacking, but I have good information and I want to share it in a very easily understood and exciting way without all the hard to understand terminology that you find in whitepapers etc.

I find a lot of facility managers and building owners get all glossy eyed when the sales person or engineer begins to throw out a lot of $10 words describing the intricacies of the system as opposed to explaining it in layman's terms and having that decision maker walk away with solid information they can use and repeat to others.

Sinclair: Where is The Controls Freak headed in the future?

Ramirez: At the moment I am doing my best at redesigning the site to be less of a blog and more of an online resource or community. I learned quickly after I started the site that writing new articles and/or producing new videos every week was a lot of work, especially when you are also the same person doing all the website maintenance. I also realized there is so much information to cover that there is no way I can do it all by myself. I would expect to see a new site design closer to summertime after I have received a few new articles from other supporters of the site.

Another thing I am working on is a small eBook for those looking to get in to Building Automation and Controls that will help guide them in the things they should have or do to excel at being a full-fledged Controls Freak themselves.

Until then... "Work Smarter, Not Harder"


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