At Cornerstone Automation, the engineers are required to balance a number of responsibilities, and Timothy Ferrin’s experience has been no different. Tim started his engineering career with Cornerstone Automation in 2018. Although his official title is IT and Controls Technician, like many controls engineers, Tim “wears many hats.”
“I do some of everything,” Tim says. “I’ll handle sales, quoting, and the engineering side of things. Then on that same job, I might also draft the electrical schematics, wire the panels, program the HMI screens and the PLCs, and then handle commissioning at a customer’s facility. I also get called for field service work where I troubleshoot a machine that’s down.”
Whether he is on-site with a customer, covered in dust working on a machine, out on a meet and greet, or handling sales tasks, one thing is for sure, balancing all these necessary tasks requires a laser focus and some serious time management skills!
Tim lives in West Norriton, PA, close to where he grew up in Harleysville. Although his family has owned and operated Cornerstone Automation for over 25 years, Tim’s heart wasn’t always set on becoming an engineer. Before changing career paths to pursue controls engineering, Tim earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern University in Music Education, as well as earning an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Montgomery County Community College.
As an avid music enthusiast, it should come as no surprise to learn that Tim is an accomplished classical guitarist. He has performed at parties, weddings and a number of local churches. Currently his inspiration is drawn from the progressive metal genre, but he also likes to kick back and listen to some finger picking by Tommy Emmanuel. When he’s not at work or strumming a tune for his family and friends, Tim can often be found in the great outdoors. He enjoys day hiking on the weekends, going for daily 4-mile runs, playing tennis, and participating in competitive ultimate frisbee games! When the colder weather sets in, Tim heads for the mountains and enjoys hitting the slopes on his snowboard. If he has to be indoors, he enjoys playing video games and has been known to host the occasional LAN party with friends.
Tim’s logical nature and problem-solving skills ultimately led him to become an engineer, and he hasn’t looked back. “Each project presents a unique complex problem that needs to be figured out and resolved, Tim explains. “It’s a double-edged sword because the challenge is also what makes the job tough. At the end of the day, the more you’re challenged, the more you learn and grow.” With over 6 years of experience in information technologies and electrical work, Tim is an expert problem solver and is knowledgeable about both operational technology and mechanical processes.
There are several projects that Tim has been involved in that have showcased his expertise, as well as exemplified his commitment to growth in his profession. One project was the rebuilding of a San Cassiano mixer involving programming and design. This particular project required the replacement of a very intricate relay-based control board with a standard PLC and VFD, as well as a multi-speed motor. Tim was able to simplify the complex system without documentation to allow for a recipe-based control. The resulting system not only provided the end user with better diagnostics but also offered significantly more affordable maintenance.
Another project that stands out to Tim, was his involvement in the “ground up” build of a CIP (clean in place) skid, including the programming and design. The challenges were significant and the solution relied on complex data manipulation and looping to maintain the databases inside the PLC.
“Tim is truly an asset to Cornerstone,” stated Alan Ferrin, president of Cornerstone Automation. “He brings enthusiasm, intelligence, perseverance, and ingenuity. He is willing to tackle anything and is customer-focused. We are grateful he is part of the team.”
When it comes to working for Cornerstone Automation, Tim really appreciates the team culture. He notes that his fellow engineers are dependable, experts in their field, and incredibly hard-working. “Working for family is unlike any other job I’ve had,” said Tim. “I know I can always count on my coworker in a pinch and that reliability is hard to beat.”