Employee Spotlight James Clark

Meet James Clark, one of our Level V Controls Engineers based out of our Golden, CO office.  With over two decades of brewery experience, he provides vital technical leadership for our brewing industry projects. James is committed to identifying the best solutions for our clients, and his dedication to achieving timely and streamlined project execution sets him apart. The three words that we use to describe him are dedicated, detailed, and driven. Read our full interview below:

How long have you been with LSI?

Started in October 2021, so 2 Years, 7 Months.

Describe your current role and experience at LSI.

I worked at Molson Coors for 20+ years before joining LSI. When I first graduated college, I started working for a DCS company. I was part of a series of projects for a customer, then called Miller Brewing Company, that was re-automating their US plants. At that time, they were converting from Modicon PLCs to D/3 DCS. Now, at LSI, I am working with the same customer, now called Molson Coors. These projects are part of a multi-year effort to re-automate those same plants again. I’ve come full circle, and now I am removing the same systems that I put in many years ago, just out of college.

Where did you go to college?

  • UMBC – University of Maryland Baltimore County. BS in Mechanical Engineering with a Minor in Math.
  • Averett University – MBA
  • East Carolina University – My master’s in software engineering is in progress. My coursework is done, but I am not really wrapping up my thesis and probably never will.  Technology outpaced me.

What industries have you been involved in?

In college, I worked a lot in Pulp and Paper. I also did several co-ops at a company that made Electrostatic Precipitators. I worked in their R&D department and have always liked doing more free-form creative work.

I started out of college with GSE Systems, the company that made the D3 DCS. Over the years, I had a wide-ranging role that included implementing projects, product R&D, testing, and playing a part in some big product releases.  I’ve always been particularly interested in developing batch(S88) and HMI technologies. For projects, I got to travel to S. Korea (PVC), Argentina (Seed Oil), and Belgium/Netherlands (Shell R&D).

I have predominantly worked in the Brewing Industry. Within Molson, I was able to do many projects across areas of IT and engineering—the most significant being a multi-plant MES system implementation and startup.

Miller Brewing Company (Food and Bev) was a big customer, and I went there in the Fall of 2001 when I wanted to stop traveling for my family. But now the kids are gone, and I’d love to start traveling again.

Tell us about a project success story that you are proud of.

Now that I am nearing the end of my career and reflect, there were a lot of big projects, but I still think back most fondly on college and doing finite element analysis in heat transfer.  This seems easy today; just install a package to do it and drag and drop some things.  But back in the 90s, computers were still new. I wrote my own C++ program to do the calculations and then fed the output into MATLAB for some cool gradient shading.  This blew away everyone else in the class, including the professor’s solution. I used a much bigger matrix. My solution was able to show much finer-grained interactions and showed effects none of the others could.  I got my degree in engineering, but I went all in on software programming.

What do you think is unique about LSI?

As an engineering service company, LSI understands the importance of hiring and retaining knowledgeable professionals. They prioritize treating employees well and showing appreciation.

How have you grown professionally since joining LSI?

Technology-wise, I have come up to speed on Rockwell PLCs and Python. The last set of big IO cutovers last year where we used Python to write PLC logic was very challenging and rewarding.

Personally, the number of projects and people all interacting and happening concurrently, the nonstop adjusting to new situations, and the dynamics with each different team from moment to moment have all helped me grow in adaptability.

What advice do you have for aspiring engineers?

Always be curious.  It seems trite, but the people who really “need to know” and dig into something to satisfy that “need to know” turn into experts.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

My wife picks out the spots each year, and they all turn out nice. We’ve never really had a repeat destination. My favorite area has been the Appalachian Mountains in western NC.

Do you have any hobbies or random facts about yourself that you could share with us?

Walking, Reading, Yoga, Crafts (both kinds, Minecraft. and StarCraft)

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