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EMAIL 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.
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.
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.
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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