Abraham Corona, M.AIRAH
Abraham Corona – MD/engineering manager of TechIn Pty Ltd – spent his early years in Venezuela. Born and raised in the industrial city of Valencia, he grew up in an engineering environment dominated by the world-leading manufacturing companies.
Ever since he was a kid, Corona says he’s been passionate about new cultures and places.
Upon graduating as a mechanical engineer, he made a concerted effort to learn new languages – becoming fluent in English and Italian. Complemented by his mother tongue (Spanish) and a career in mechanical engineering, he has been able to travel the world to look for knowledge and new experiences.
He has been able to apply his HVAC&R engineering knowledge in the US, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia – the country he's called home since 2010.
An active member of AIRAH, Corona is Chair of our Infection Control and Operating Theatre Practices STG and a committee member for our Vic division. He is a two-time finalist (2015 and 2019) in the Future Leader category at the AIRAH Awards, and a finalist in the ARBS Young Achiever category at the ARBS Awards 2020.
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
The quick answer is I started to work in HVAC&R unwittingly.
A fun fact – once I graduated, I swore to myself that I was never going to work in a thermodynamics-related position. My dream was to be a car designer working on exterior design. I applied to work at GM, Chrysler and Ford, but, ironically, the job offers I received were in refrigeration.
I declined a couple of offers until I acquiesced and accepted a “project leader” position for an Italian refrigeration contracting firm that selected me at an international conference of young talent. It came as an unexpected blessing.
After only a few months, I was involved with the bread and butter of the food cold chain industry – designing and building refrigeration projects for abattoirs, farms, manufacturing facilities and travelling to Europe for further training.
Since then, HVAC&R has become a never-ending learning curve that I feel excited about.
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
There are a few. Some are good ones, and some are bad ones that I have learned a lot from.
The good ones to remember are the funny ones.
Not even a year after I landed in Australia, the Italian headquarters of the refrigeration company I used to work at selected me to train their Chinese engineering staff on their products for the new manufacturing facility in China. It was a fantastic experience, full of funny moments.
The Chinese staff were expecting an engineer fluent in Australian English. Instead, they got an Australian engineer with a Latin American background, broken American English, and a Spanish/Italian accent that had to be simultaneously translated to Mandarin.
We spent an amazing week together where they learned a lot about refrigeration heat exchangers, Australian culture, and a bit of Italian and Venezuelan culture too. I came back home full of Chinese culture, and with some new friends.
When I left, we concluded that this is the Australian beauty – our mix of cultures.
What's something everyone should know about you, your work, or the HVAC&R industry?
My level of persistence, resilience, and commitment to finish my goals once I have decided to do something. What does this translate to for the Australian HVAC&R industry? That I won't sleep until we get the first Australian Standard for operating theatre HVAC design, construction, commissioning, and service from the infection control point of view.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
I have been following AIRAH since 2010 – the year I arrived to live in Australia. I wanted to be part of and get involved with it, but at the time I felt I needed to be more knowledgeable about the Australian HVAC&R industry to be able to offer something valuable to it.
I spent the next five years acquiring local experience. That’s how I found the area that has now become one of my driven passions: critical HVAC for healthcare facilities and infection control.
I became a member of AIRAH in 2015 – the year I was first nominated in the AIRAH Awards Future Leader category due to my work to improve the national HVAC&R industry standards for operating theatre HVAC practices.
How do you see the HVAC&R industry developing over the next 100 years?
Some people get nostalgic when you look back. Others say that you should live in the present. I think to be able to better forecast the future, you need to know where you are and where you are coming from.
The HVAC&R industry has evolved a lot since the first practical vapour-compression system was patented. However, it has been over 100 years of perfecting this system but keeping its principle. We have learned on the way how important refrigeration is, but we have also learned how damaging to the world bad practices of it can be. There is no need to explain the damage potential of the current refrigerants still in use, just to mention one area.
Therefore, I would like to see an industry without boundaries – an industry learning from other industries and vice versa, to fast-track improvement. Every time I have the opportunity to travel to HVAC&R expos, both nationally and internationally, I look for the next breakthrough path in HVAC&R.
I am happy to confirm that I have seen some interesting solutions. As an example, there is a German company that, since 2014, has successfully designed and installed chillers using water as a refrigerant. They still use the well-known refrigeration cycle (evaporator, compressor, condenser and expansion device), but by combining it with turbo compressor technology they have achieved amazing values that were previously near-to-impossible to forecast with water as a refrigerant.