Revolutionizing automation | Cory Ross ’18

Cory at work

Bal Seal’s ATLAS machine may not be capable of holding up the sky, but as their first internally developed and fully automated testing robot, designed in part by UCCS Alumnus Cory Ross, it’s still quite an impressive feat.

Ross shares about how ATLAS came to be, his hopes for the future and advice for current UCCS students in his success story.

I was approached by a former Bal Seal Automation Engineer and UCCS student, Alfredo Guillem. He noticed my profile in the UCCS careers system and believed my combination of skills in both electrical and mechanical engineering would be a good fit for an internship beginning in July 2018. I graduated in December of 2018, and received a job offer from Bal Seal that same month.

I’m fortunate to do what I love every day. I’ve always been fascinated with technology and gadgets of all kinds. To be able to bring machines to life give me a profound sense of joy. And sometimes terror.

In work, I’m most proud of my part on the team that designed and built ATLAS, which is Bal Seal’s first internally developed and fully automated testing robot. The project was a success, and has spawned a second iteration – cleverly named ATLAS 2 – and has laid the groundwork for even greater in-house automation in the future. My girlfriend, Jessica, and I are expecting our first baby in December. I’m hoping to make that my proudest moment outside of work.

Cory and his girlfriend, Jessica

When the ATLAS project began, I had only written small programs and tinkered with little gadgets like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, but never a project so large as an industrial automation machine. I experienced tremendous uncertainty and self-doubt. However, I learned to manage these things by exploring all learning resources at my disposal, relying on the great team around me for support and suggestions, and breaking the project down into manageable pieces. I celebrated each small step as it was accomplished and my determination grew with each of those little wins. I have much more confidence now, knowing that I have the ability to find a path through uncertainty – professional or otherwise.

UCCS provided the flexibility to tailor my education and extra-curricular opportunities to explore my skills and interests. I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Steven Tragesser in the Space Grant Lab for several years. We took on several varied projects that forced me to think creatively and learn new skills which I’m currently applying in my career. I would like to thank Dr. Tragesser for trusting me to invent solutions and for providing the environment to develop those ideas. I’m sure I made him nervous more than once.

I would love to spearhead the sort of “automation revolution” that Bal Seal has emphasized in its future goals. I hope in 5 to 10 years I can look around a fully-automated manufacturing plant and say that I was one of the primary builders. I’m thankful to Bal Seal leadership for trusting its engineers to innovate in this area.

Never stop learning. Investing in yourself – via new skills or knowledge – gives the best return on investment. Good employers will support, recognize, and accommodate your growth and modify your role accordingly.

When you graduate, you will be competing with many other graduates who all have the same degree you have, so give employers a reason to choose you over the others. Take every opportunity to build your current skills, learn new ones, and don’t let yourself get too comfortable. Do your best to stand out in creative ways – I once received a job offer after I stapled my resume to the back of an exam. (If you try this, be sure to ace that exam!)

What I like to do – watch baseball, learn about statistics, make absurd things on my 3D printer. What I usually do instead – work on my 115-year old house.

I used to have a full head of hair.

About the UCCS College of Engineering and Applied Science

The College of Engineering and Applied Science enrolls more than 1,700 students and offers 23 engineering and computer science degrees, ranging from bachelor to doctoral. The college is a Department of Homeland Security / National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and works closely with the National Cybersecurity Center and with more than 250 aerospace and defense, information technology, cybersecurity and engineering organizations in the Pikes Peak region. Learn more about the College of Engineering and Applied Science at UCCS.