Laurens VanPagee, among Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 for 2010
Laurens VanPagee, 35
Director, Branch Operations, 4 years
JMP Engineering Inc.
London, Ontario, Canada
Job function: General or Corporate Management
Academics: Bachelor of Applied Science, Electrical Engineering, University of Waterloo
Achievements: My current role is director of branch operations at JMP Engineering. Over the years I have had the privilege of being involved in many projects that have improved the quality of life for others. Most noticeable of those was a filter-making machine that produced the filter elements used in providing clean drinking water as part of the 2004 tsunami relief effort. Although a small part, knowing that what I was working on at the time had such an important, timely impact was a feeling that I still thrive on today. In addition to real-world impact, I have had the pleasure of being involved in many initiatives that have really changed the way we do business. I am a member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) Best Practice Committee, which is responsible for setting benchmarks for the system integrator industry. Being part of this group has helped JMP achieve Control Engineering’s coveted award of Control System Integrator of the Year (2009), and has taken our project management methodologies, training capabilities, and certifications to new levels. I have really enjoyed being able to change the internal landscape of our company.
Non-work hobbies: Anyone who knows me can attest to my love for tinkering. As a kid I was always taking things apart and putting them back together. As such, I have a lot of projects on the go. Most recently I rebuilt two vintage 1978 snowmobiles. Last year I raced one of them for the first time in a vintage sled race. Unfortunately a bad coil had me retire early from the endurance race, but it was a blast! My kids love helping with the rebuilds and they get to learn a lot about turning wrenches and how things work in general.
In my line of work we’re exposed to a wide range of robotics. My two oldest kids (four and six) think robots have human qualities including the way they look and talk. I felt there was an educational opportunity at hand, so I approached the principal at their school with the offer to educate them on automated control systems. I walked their classes through a real-world example that took a very manual process and completely automated it. They loved it! It was also great to set the stage for some of them to consider a career in engineering.
I am also a partner in a small, 2,500-plant grape-tomato operation. My wife (mainly) and I tend to the outdoor crop, on my in-law’s farm. I get to apply my controls background and have put in a small watering and fertilizer system. I also have an older car that I take to a few local race tracks throughout the summer months. I really enjoy doing all the work on the car myself. Each season I try to make car and driver advancements with the goal to race professionally one day.
Start in controls: My parents taught me to work hard at a very young age. This kept me active and hands-on in many service industries. I always loved getting my hands dirty. When it came time for selecting my first co-op term in my engineering program, I looked for a hands-on environment where I could interface with people. I landed in a paper mill. What an awe-inspiring process for someone in their first year of school. From that point on, I was hooked!
Return to main article: Control Engineering Leaders Under 40, class of 2010
– Compiled by Renee R. Bassett for Control Engineering.
See www.controleng.com/awards for other winners and other recognition programs for all ages.