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    Q&A with Carlos Colon

    Carlos ColonCarlos Colon

    Carlos Colon serves as a Senior Manager in Automation at Amgen, Inc., one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies. A Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®), Colon is also a highly engaged ISA leader at both the section and district levels. He currently serves as President of ISA’s Puerto Rico Section and as DVP-elect for ISA’s District 3.

    Please provide us with your educational background (degree/s received and when) and explain how and why you became interested in a career in automation.

    I hold a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering (BSME) and a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering (MSMfg) with concentration in industrial automation from Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico—achieved in 1999 and 2005, respectively.

    I first got exposed to the automation and process control world on my Capstone Design Project. From that point on, I understood that automation crosses all functions within the industry, from installation, integration, and maintenance to design, procurement, and management.  For that reason, I embarked on my acquisition of a master’s degree in order to have a better tool box in this field. I gained ISA Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®) certification so that I could obtain even more capabilities, reach new horizons, and take my knowledge to a new level.

    Tell us about your career and areas of expertise—and about your involvement in ISA.

    I am a Professional Engineer currently working as a Senior Manager at Amgen, Inc., a leading pharmaceutical company in the biotechnology field.  I am in charge of the automation department of a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant currently expanding to introduce a new product.

    I have worked in various positions as a system integrator, consultant, individual contributor and in management for different industries. I have worked at small industrial automation and control companies as well as major pharmaceutical entities, such as Astra Zeneca and Amgen, Inc.

    In total, I have over sixteen (16) years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry within the automation and computer-related field. My specific areas of expertise include project management, HVAC & process control, conceptual design, system deployment, operations & maintenance, and technical support. I’m proficient in the installation, testing, and commissioning of complex control system projects. I would say I have a great deal of knowledge in Statistical Process Control (SPC), machine and process characterization; GMP compliance; packaging and manufacturing equipment and qualification; utilities and bio-pharma equipment; control and qualification, IT systems infrastructure qualification and computerized system validation.

    Within ISA, I am an ISA Senior Member, and a CAP®, and I’m actively involved at both the section and district levels. I serve as the ISA Puerto Rico Section President (since 2013) and the DVP-elect for District 3 (as of January of this year). I am very pleased that ISA’s Puerto Rico Section has enjoyed substantial growth over the last three years after a time of being far too dormant.

    How would you say ISA has benefited you?

    ISA has benefited my career in different ways. In a constantly changing environment of technology and innovation, I have been able to provide direction, definition, design, development/application, deployment, documentation, and support of systems, software, and equipment used in control systems, manufacturing information systems, systems integration, and operational consulting. ISA has played a vital role in helping to keep me current and educated on new technologies and applications.

    In addition, ISA has been able to validate to my employers, as an independent third party entity, my knowledge and expertise as a CAP®. Other benefits have been the tools (i.e. technical papers, standards and training) and access to such a broad professional network—the thousands of professionals within the ISA community. As a manager of a technical group, I want the best team ever possible and ISA helps me identify the highest quality candidates. If I see a candidate has a CAP® or Certified Control Systems Technician® (CCST®) certification on a resume, that is a clear indication that person is committed to ongoing professional development and in reaching his or her maximum potential.

    What advice would you give to other young professionals entering the automation profession?

    To the young professional and even younger prospect, I say: If you enjoy a world of technology and helping to make life as advanced as possible, then you should choose the amazing field of automation.  The automation profession will fulfill those dreams and more.   

    For those entering the automation field, I encourage them to continuously keep up with technology, seek out every opportunity to grow professionally, and cultivate a professional network within the automation field and community. Obviously, a membership in ISA helps to address all three. It’s very important to seek mentorship as well so that you can tap into the wisdom and expertise that only experience can provide. A mentor can give a young professional guidance in his or her career and help determine which particular area of automation and control would best fit specific interests and aptitude.