Patrick Corcoran, Systems Engineer
What drew you to DMC?
I was looking for a smaller company where I could continue systems engineering and DMC was a great fit. Chicago was also a big draw, and it’s close to my hometown of St. Louis.
What is your favorite part about working at DMC?
Everyone says this, but it has to be the variety of the projects. I wouldn’t enjoy working on only one tester all the time. Since starting at DMC, I’ve been involved in projects ranging from light bulbs to carbon fiber layup equipment and there’s always something interesting on the horizon.
Do you have any engineering hobbies?
I'm an avid home brewer and I build all my own equipment. Since control is the biggest issue in brewing, I built an automated PID system to manage mash time and temperature. Tighter control managing temperature and sugar leads to greater overall consistency. I’ve seen a significant increase in quality, clarity, flavor, and color over my past 2 ½ years home brewing.
I’ve actually never brewed the same batch twice. The best batch I’ve made was probably an American ale. It was a West Coast style beer, similar to a Rogue Dead Guy Ale but hoppier.
What homebrewing innovation are you planning next?
Ideally, I’d like to increase my capacity to 10 gallon batches. I’m also planning to build a series of pumps and plate chillers connecting my mash, boil, and ferment equipment, which would streamline the process and make cleanup a lot easier. It would be great to hook this stuff up to a cart for easy storage since it currently takes up an entire room in my apartment!
Do you have any advice for would-be homebrewers?
To start, anyone who is interested in homebrewing should really enjoy cleaning. The process is about 10% brewing and 90% cleaning your gear. The brewing process itself is also about as exciting as watching water boil.
I would recommend that anyone getting started should stick with recipes for 5 gallon batches. This is the standard batch size and working with anything smaller opens you up to greater chance of finicky flavor components that can sour easily.
Can you tell us more about the special batch you brewed for DMC’s Oktoberfest party?
I went with a dunkelweizen, which is a dark German wheat beer. It’s a traditional fall Oktoberfest beer and the process took about 2 months, from brew to bottle.
What else do you like to do for fun?
I spend a lot of time with Luther, my 96 lb. German Shepherd. He likes to run around Horner Park and play fetch, when he isn’t trying to bite off someone’s hand.
Barbecue is another passion of mine. I’ve made it a mission to eat good barbecue all over when I travel, and you can pretty much pinpoint specialties by region. For example, Texas owns beef barbecue while Kansas City and St. Louis are undisputed in pork ribs. I’m still exploring Chicago’s barbecue scene and would love some suggestions. Eventually I’d like to get a trailer smoker and start entering some barbecue competitions!
What are your favorite spots in Chicago?
The Museum of Science & Industry is incredible. I’m a sucker for trains, so I really like the steam engine. The U-boat is also really cool. I’ve also enjoyed hanging out in Millennium Park and taking advantage of the free outdoor concerts.
What’s been your favorite project at DMC so far?
We worked on a clutch tester with SRAM, who is partnering with other organizations to develop new drive components for the Worldbike. A commuter bike solution for third world countries, the Worldbike has to be highly reliable at a low cost, with an extremely strong frame and components to withstand rocky, dusty conditions. SRAM needed a tester to run for thousands of hours peddling. It was a fun project all-around, with a cool application.
What’s your favorite programming language?
I stand behind LabVIEW. Some people dislike that LabVIEW is so accessible in that anyone can draw a picture and run the program. The low entry point is a great benefit, as you don’t have to be a programmer to use your computer to do pretty cool things with LabVIEW. Of course this can lead to negative results when the program is misused in industry, but it’s all about how it is constructed.
I would like to improve my skills in web technologies like JQUERY and HTML5. Technologies like these have so many promising features in the areas of media and animation. Working mostly in manufacturing, I feel there are lots of possibilities that business hasn’t caught up to yet. Ultimately no one lives in a test lab, and if you think of the processing power even in your pocket, it would be exciting to take advantage of those future possibilities.