Steve Duerdoth: In Search of Better Automated Systems and Tastier Brisket

Steve Duerdoth has been with Matrix since 2012 and has been Controls Engineering Manager since 2015. Naturally curious, his career path matches his personality. “When I see something, I have to know how it works, how to program it and how to make it better.”

With a Bachelor’s Degree in electrical engineering from IIT, Steve has worked in a variety of software development roles, racking up over 30 years’ experience in the machine tool and automation business. As fate would have it, one of the principals from his last position became an owner of Matrix. As the company grew, he asked Steve to join the organization and lend his talents to sorting out the increasing workload.

Building the Present

Day to day, Steve works with our team of engineers to pick the best of today’s technologies to use for inputs and outputs in our cells. As technology advances, he updates our systems to keep them moving forward in sync with the latest developments. “It’s similar to when cars started with cassette players, moved to CDs and now come with Bluetooth,” he said. “If it’s practical, we want our cells to be faster, better and easier to use with whatever comes onto the market.”

Steve is most proud of helping to establish programming guidelines for some our core applications. This standardization means that if several people are working on a quote, they are all, quite literally, on the same page. The guidelines also ensure that everyone is writing code that is similar. This makes it easy for one person to read another’s code, but it also makes the code reusable. “The team can write modules that can be mixed and matched and reused in different machines and that saves a lot of development time.”

Once a cell is in production, the engineers are ready to go on to the next project. The more challenging, the better. Steve says that is where the real fun is. “Engineers prefer hardware we don’t know, run with a language we haven’t learned, that’s going to do a job we haven’t figured out yet.”

Planning the Future

Steve also keeps abreast of manufacturing challenges that are not currently targeted by other automation companies. “At Matrix, we’re always looking for new markets and applications,” he said. “We plan to attack them in a way that gives us a competitive edge and allows us to become the industry leader in that segment.” Steve and his fellow engineers will determine what kind of product we can develop to capture these markets and then address the technical challenges such as control systems, HMI, etc. “This is a great company and I want to help it be even better in the future by taking advantage of the latest cutting edge technology.”

Off the Clock: Cruising, Fishing and BBQ

Steve can’t remember when he did not have a motorcycle. His current ride is a Harley Ultra Classic. He enjoys long weekends cruising through some scenic country with a couple of friends. On other trips, fishing is the focus, mostly Northerns or Muskies, although he has been known to land some truly big ones, like Wahoo and Sailfish, down in the Keys.

But outside of the office, Steve’s real claim to fame is his reputation for making some of the finest smoked meats you’ll ever taste. He started years ago with placing wood chips in a foil wrap on the charcoal grill, just to get some smoky flavor in the meat. Then he bought a real smoker and started doing pulled pork, brisket, bacon, fish and you name it. Now, he’s been doing it over 20 years. In fact, he and his buddies are pitching in and will supply over 100 lbs. of smoked brisket for the annual company picnic in late summer.

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