Leader Under 40: Tony Baker
System Characterization Manager, PlantPAx; Rockwell Automation - BS Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ohio State University
Mr. Tony Baker, 29
System Characterization Manager, PlantPAx; Rockwell Automation
Mayfield Heights, Ohio
BS Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ohio State University
Baker manages a system test lab consisting of a wide variety of Rockwell Automation products including controllers, software, and I/O. They evaluate system performance of Rockwell Automation products as a process control system in a variety of architectures from small skid-based solutions to larger distributed systems. This effort gives them a very detailed understanding of the system performance and allows them to evaluate resource utilization down to the individual contribution of each control strategy and display. From these activities, they are able to provide our customers with information in regards to sizing, ordering and building their systems while enabling them to achieve repeatable and predictable system performance. In addition to evaluating Rockwell Automation products, Baker has taken the lead with Rockwell Automation in the evaluation of forward- looking technologies such as virtualization within the lab and how it can complement control systems not only today, but in the future.
Baker was a FIRST LEGO League robotics coach for local fourth- and fifth-grade teams. He worked with 16 students who were excited about science and technology in a competition to complete a number of challenges using an autonomous robot (LEGO MINDSTORMS robot set), which they had to design, build and program. “This was an extremely rewarding experience for me,” said Baker. “It amazes me what young minds are able to absorb and accomplish if given the opportunity. These types of activities allow kids to be creative, troubleshoot, work as a team and most importantly, have fun.”
For the last three years, Baker has worked as a program manager for an early career development program within Rockwell Automation. He enjoys the challenges of recruiting and developing future talent for the company. This is a two-year program and allows him to coach/mentor associates over a significant period of time as they transition from academia to the professional world. “It is very rewarding and exciting to see the associates of the program continually grow both personally and professionally,” said Baker.
Baker is newly married and his wife has “persuaded” him to take up urban farming. He spent the last two summers building her garden kingdom, which includes a coop for a small flock of chickens. So far they have had no complaints from the neighbors as their bribes of fresh eggs seem to be effective. (Fingers crossed she’s just kidding about the goats!) Outside of work Baker maintains a very active lifestyle. He enjoys competition and team sports. He participates in competitive indoor/outdoor volleyball tournaments and other sports such as snowboarding, hiking, basketball, softball, and flag football.
Baker grew up with LEGOs and his first set that contained motors and pneumatics opened up a new world of advanced design to him (even though his controls were limited to forward and reverse). From then on, engineering became a passion for Baker. He attended school at The Ohio State University and focused on controls. During a co-op with a local power generation company, he worked with Rockwell Automation on a control system upgrade. Baker chose to continue working with Rockwell Automation because it provided him with the ability to interact with a breadth of industries, applications and unique problems.
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Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.