Meet an Alicat: In the lab with Foose

When you contact Alicat, you will be connected directly with someone from our team of applications engineers. Each member of this multidisciplinary team is familiar with our mass flow and pressure controllers, and is dedicated to determining which highly customized instrument configuration will work best for each application.

Some of our applications engineer like to go a step further and work on building and testing the devices themselves! One such applications engineer is Foose, a solutions driven chemist with the heart of a tinkerer. When Foose isn’t on the phone, it is likely you will find him in the test lab surrounded by tangles of wires, equipment, and devices. He is highly skilled in both identifying the source of a problem and also finding the best way to fix it.

R. “Foose” Sickafoose running tests in the lab.

We decided to ask Foose a few questions, to get a closer look into the mind of an applications engineer.

What is your favorite part of the day?

“Since we are based in Arizona and are ahead of the clock from many of our customers, the later part of the day is when I have time to expand my knowledge of our own products and ways they are used. Currently the bulk of this special projects time is spent learning to program PLCs and use automation software so that I can better troubleshoot our devices and understand how our products interact with industrial systems.”

What is the most interesting project you have worked on?

“My favorite application that I’ve worked on was a research project designing an olfactometer to test a dog’s ability to distinguish very low concentration odorants. I love animals, and the application was memorable and unique. The basic parameters of the system were already understood by the customer, but I was able to show how our very high turndown ratios could allow a handful of dilution steps to deliver accurate odorant concentrations across many orders of magnitude, how the customer could improve repeatability with active back pressure control, and how we could customize the valve configuration to reduce system purge time between experiments.”

How are you Alicat fast?

“I’m good at troubleshooting. I always want to know more about how devices are built, how they are used, how they perform, and how they break. Sometimes this means I can save customers expensive downtime by helping them identify complex problems and fix equipment in the field without ever having to return a device to Alicat. I often spend time in the lab making short instructional documents for customers who need to modify or configure our devices in a certain way. For example, one time a customer broke the front display of their Alicat and wanted to return it for repair. I know that replacing the front display cover and membrane switch is a fairly simple task requiring only a few minutes and some simple hand tools, but learning how to do it over the phone would be harder than following a written guide with pictures. I created a small guide on how to do this simple repair, overnighted the customer a membrane switch, and the customer’s process was back up and running in less than 24 hours.”

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