A step ahead: Alumnus builds a tech career in St. Louis, Michigan

The buzz of machinery doesn’t drown Elijah Baltierra’s excitement when showcasing a component on the custom machinery used to make bleach at Powell Fabrication in St. Louis, Michigan. Bearing safety glasses and closed toed shoes, he spends his days in the machine shop deploying and configuring chemical skid machinery.

“Our business model is really innovative,” he said. “We are located in the middle of Michigan, but create nearly 75 percent of the machines worldwide used to make bleach. When a customer calls and says there is something wrong with their machine, we have to be able to fix it right away.”

Baltierra, a senior IT specialist and 2018 Davenport University alum, supports the company’s core technology by creating individualized virtual private networks — VPNs — for each chemical skid.

He, along with the engineers, use VPN technology to log in, diagnose and fix problems with no travel needed, saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Future of technology

Working for a smaller company like Powell, Baltierra works on a wide range of technology projects from service to networking. Within a few months on the job, he wanted to expand his skills to meet the needs of the emerging industry.

“I have been lucky to have a diverse career in the computer field,” Baltierra said. “But, when it comes to the future of technology at my company, I saw the need to develop my skills in project management.”

He pursued his bachelor’s degree in Project Management with a concentration in Information Security at Davenport University.

“My employer helped me return to school to advance my education,” Baltierra said. “Powell’s owners stress the importance of continuing education and advancing our company. This was my opportunity.”

Serving as a role model

As a father of four, Baltierra worked on his homework alongside his children as he pursued his bachelor’s degree.

“My family gave up so many weekends and nights so that I could do my class assignments,” he said. “But, in all honesty, I wanted to get my bachelor’s degree for them.”

He wanted to show his children the importance of working hard to achieve a goal that puts you a step ahead.

“Sometimes there were not enough hours in the day to be a dad, an employee and a student,” he said. “But, it is paying off, especially because my 13-year-old son shared with me the other day that he wanted to be an electrical engineer.”

He hopes his children follow in his footsteps and advance their education after high school.

“It feels good knowing that my hard work not only helps me and my career but our whole family.”


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