We are pleased to announce that Brent Zerkle, Director of Prototyping and Vice President of Cryomech, has been selected as the 2023 Innovator of the Year. Zerkle was nominated by his Cryomech colleagues Rich Dausman, President; Parminder Banga, Engineering Manager; and Arifin Budihardjo, Business Development Manager; for his innovative developments in the design optimization and prototype creation of customized systems.

Brent joined Cryomech as a model maker back in 1982 when they produced 10 to 20 cryocoolers per year. Over the years, he has held different positions in the R&D department, as well as in the production and manufacturing department. Each role he’s held has helped Cryomech grow to their current capacity of producing over 1,000 systems per year, while still innovating new products.

According to his colleagues, Brent is an innovator at heart who strives to make improvements wherever he can. For example, he was instrumental in streamlining piece part and sub assembly manufacturing to achieve high quality first pass yields in finished goods. He also brought CNC machining to Cryomech, significantly shifting the piece part manufacturing to a higher number to support their growth. Brent always understands the various processes and machineries involved in accomplishing new ideas and products. In addition, he has been called upon to travel to many countries installing and repairing Cryomech equipment in less than favorable conditions. One memorable trip brought him to the South Pole where he overcame unforeseen challenges due to weather and limited local resources to successfully install a Cryomech system that enabled the continuation of ongoing atmospheric research through the Pole’s winter season.

Rich Dausman, President of Cryomech and longtime colleague, reflected on Brent’s talents and value to the organization, “Translating ideas into a working prototype is Brent’s superpower. He is a mechanical genius who can visualize the entire manufacturing process. Over the years, working with our customers’ and Cryomech’s R&D scientists and technologists, Brent has been the common thread in successfully converting ideas and innovations from sketches to working prototypes. In this way, he inspires other co-workers, and he has been a valuable mentor to many new team members, including several who received their New York State Model Maker Certifications under Brent’s tutelage.”

In his current roles as Director of Prototyping and Vice President of Cryomech, Brent continues to develop prototypes, which are precursors to many advanced industrial applications, and to develop and transfer knowledge to the next generation of employees. He is the key factor in Cryomech’s product realization process and the successful launch over the past two years of their newest line of high performance, ultra-low temperature cryocoolers. These innovative cryocoolers produce industry leading heat lift capacity, providing foundational enabling technology in Quantum Computing applications being developed by the likes of IBM, Google, Microsoft, and others. He is the person that can work with scientists and research PhDs and transform theories and calculations into new methods and products. Brent’s nominators and colleagues at Cryomech truly believe that he is the definition of manufacturing innovation.

“From all of us at MACNY, I would like to congratulate Brent and Cryomech on their incredibly meaningful, innovative accomplishments and receiving this well-deserved honor,” stated MACNY President & CEO Randy Wolken. “Brent’s commitment to innovation and enthusiasm to pass along his knowledge to others is an inspiration to us all. On behalf of the MACNY membership, we look forward to recognizing Brent as MACNY’s Innovator of the Year at MACNY’s 110th Annual Celebration of Manufacturing.”

MACNY’s Innovator of the Year Award was created at the suggestion of MACNY members, as a way to nominate and recognize individuals within a company who consistently demonstrate forward thinking ideas in the areas of technology, innovation, and advancement of products and production.

As part of MACNY’s tradition, Brent will be honored at MACNY’s 110th Annual Celebration of Manufacturing, in front of his colleagues and a large audience from the manufacturing and business community from Central and Upstate New York. The celebration will be held at the SRC Arena and Events Center in Syracuse, NY on May 11th, 2023. For tickets or additional information, please visit https://www.macny.org/110th-annual-celebration-of-manufacturing/.