In his final semester, ISE senior David Labrador became a Pfizer senior design team member. Their challenge was to improve a data collection process at Pfizer’s Rocky Mount, NC, location. Labrador and the team—Georgia Burgess, Nicole Gorrell, Madelaine Hiriak and Jackson Proctor—improved the manual process by automating it and storing the information in a centralized database. This improvement reduced the costs and non-value-added time. Knowing that training the operators is a significant issue in changing any process, the team developed a standard operating procedure manual and rollout plan to ease the transition. This project earned Labrador and the team a third-place finish at ISE’s Engineering Design Day. It opened his eyes to the world of continuous improvement.
His experience working with the engineers at Pfizer showed Labrador that he and Pfizer had common goals. “Pfizer’s core values closely align with what I was seeking in my career and the cooperative environment at the Rocky Mount facility makes the work something I look forward to every single day,” he shared. So after graduating a few weeks later, he started working at the Rocky Mount facility. “I enjoy working as an automation engineer because of the ongoing learning, access to new knowledge and continuous experiences that make me grow every single day. I am proud to be part of their team.”
Labrador believes that automation leads the way in our evolving world and can be implemented in many systems and environments. He also believes that NC State trained him for this. “ISE prepares their students by requiring adaptation to a multitude of topics and systems,” he said. “This, in turn, produces graduates ready to contribute immediately upon graduation.”
Of the many topics he explored as an undergrad, Labrador thinks that learning to implement continuous improvement processes has helped him the most in his current position. But he quickly points out that other skills he learned have been invaluable. “The ISE program insisted on skills required for cooperative teamwork and project management,” said Labrador. “Success in this program delivers a finely honed discipline that a graduate can use to thrive and succeed at any institution.”
Reflecting on his time in the department, Labrador offers this advice to current students. “It was not too long ago I was in the shoes of an ISE student going from semester to semester just trying to get by,” he recalled. “It was not until I read this quote by Erick Thomas that I realized the importance of what it takes to be the best you can be at whatever you decide to do, ‘When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.’ It is about giving it your all in anything you do and taking advantage of any opportunity presented, as you are the future.”
Knowing that nobody succeeds alone, Labrador would like to thank those who helped shape him into who he is today. “I want to thank my parents, family, Wake Tech, NC State, Pfizer and many others for their support, mentoring and love,” he confided. “I feel fortunate to be working for a professional and reputable institution. I have experienced how Pfizer cares for all their colleagues and strives to make the world a better and healthier place. I will share a phrase my co-worker says every morning to make it a great day, ‘Happy to be here’.”