Abraham Corona
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Meet Abraham Corona, AIRAH’s new Industry Impact Manager

Abraham Corona, M.AIRAH, has now joined the AIRAH team in a newly created role: Industry Impact Manager. An engaged member of the Institute since 2015, Corona has been the co-chair of AIRAH’s Infection Control and Operating Theatre Practices STG.

Corona talked with HVAC&R News about the position and his long connection with AIRAH.

Could you tell us about your background in the HVAC&R industry before joining AIRAH?

My career in the HVAC&R industry has been a dynamic journey across multiple sectors and countries, shaping my expertise and passion for this fascinating field. After earning my mechanical engineering degree in Venezuela in 2007, I embarked on my professional path with an international refrigeration contractor based in Italy. There, I immersed myself alongside top European engineers in designing and leading high-end refrigeration projects for supermarkets, cold storages, and food facilities. It was a formative period where I gained hands-on experience, including memorable moments like my first ammonia training and troubleshooting old leaking valves. I can still remember that first smell of ammonia that we all fear.

Relocating to Australia in 2010, my focus transitioned towards critical air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems. Working with European companies based in Australia, I reached into advanced technologies like chillers and heat pumps, with heat pumps being at the forefront of innovation in Australia at the time. Introducing polyvalent heat pumps to local consultants and contractors became a hallmark of this phase, along with exploring adiabatic cooling and cogeneration applications, as that was the general line of thought at the time.

As my career progressed, I developed a profound interest in critical air conditioning, deeply influenced by mentors from Italy and Germany. By 2014, this specialisation had become my professional passion, driven by the realisation that HVAC engineering directly impacts safety and quality of life. Yes, HVAC really can save lives!

This passion culminated in founding Australia’s first national technical committee dedicated to harmonising infection control practices with HVAC systems. Today, the AIRAH Infection Control and Operating Theatre Practices Special Technical Group (STG) strives to establish national guidelines for designing, installing, commissioning, and servicing operating theatre HVAC systems, always prioritising infection control.

During my last endeavour prior to joining AIRAH, I had the opportunity to work for one of the biggest air conditioning companies in the world, where I also played a pivotal role in initiatives aimed at establishing HVAC manufacturing in Australia, a source of immense pride and achievement.

Today, I consider myself a social architect, deriving satisfaction from building social environments where multidisciplinary professionals can interact and cooperate to achieve a common goal. This is the reason why I am so excited about joining AIRAH. I am looking forward to supporting AIRAH as the voice of the industry and achieving better outcomes.

What does AIRAH mean to you, both as a member and as someone who’s heavily involved in the Infection Control and Operating Theatre Practices STG?

AIRAH holds profound personal and professional significance for me. Since becoming deeply involved with AIRAH in 2015, particularly through my work in advocating for HVAC healthcare practices and infection control, the organisation has been a cornerstone of support in my career journey and a window to the Australian HVAC&R industry. It has given me a voice and allowed me to drive meaningful change within the industry.

To me, AIRAH embodies a sense of community. It’s more than just an institution; it’s a network of faces, smiles, and shared passion. As a member, I have experienced firsthand the strength and vitality that comes from active participation.

AIRAH, like a high-quality set of mechanical tools, offers immense potential. But the real change is made by members when they use those tools to build a better future for everyone. In simple words, AIRAH’s true value comes from the engagement and commitment of its members.

What encouraged you to join the AIRAH team?

What drew me to join the AIRAH team was the profound opportunity it presents to influence and shape the broader landscape of HVAC&R practices and policies across Australia. Having previously worked in various organisations and even ventured into entrepreneurship, I have experienced firsthand the impact that individual efforts can have. However, AIRAH offered a unique platform where my contributions could transcend beyond individual endeavours.

At AIRAH, I am privileged and deeply honoured to lead initiatives that can drive significant changes in policies, industry practices, standards, and guidelines. This opportunity to influence decisions and industry practices allows me to contribute to not just specific organisations, but to improving sustainability, indoor air quality, and health outcomes for the entire Australian community.

Joining AIRAH has thus enabled me to align my professional aspirations with a larger purpose to contribute meaningfully to the evolution and improvement of HVAC&R practices on a national scale. It’s a role that empowers me to lead impactful projects, engage with diverse stakeholders, and advocate for advancements that can positively impact the lives of Australians for years to come.

What does the position of Industry Impact Manager entail?

The position of Industry Impact Manager at AIRAH is a role that resonates deeply with me on a personal level. It involves leveraging my comprehensive understanding of the HVAC&R sector – both its technical intricacies and commercial dynamics – to enhance AIRAH’s influence and effectiveness within the industry.

In this role, I am tasked with identifying and addressing industry needs through strategic initiatives. This includes developing high-quality educational products and services that cater to diverse aspects of our organisation. By collaborating closely with stakeholders, I aim to drive initiatives that not only meet current industry demands, but also anticipate future trends and challenges.

As AIRAH’s Industry Impact Manager, I can help shape policies, standards, and guidelines that can positively impact the HVAC&R community. This allows me to contribute directly to the advancement of sustainable practices, improved indoor air quality, and overall industry excellence.

What are your hopes and visions for the HVAC&R industry over the next decade? What are the most important issues we need to address?

My vision for the HVAC&R industry revolves around fostering innovation, sustainability, and resilience. While energy efficiency, sustainability, climate impact, and indoor air quality remain paramount, addressing these challenges requires a global perspective and a collaborative approach.

Throughout my involvement with the Infection Control and Operating Theatre Practices STG, I have witnessed both the interconnection and disparities among various organisations and technical groups. This experience has underscored the importance of breaking down silos and fostering collaboration to drive meaningful advancements.

For instance, my early training with NextGen Standards Australia emphasised the necessity of aligning with global standards and practices when updating regulations or driving change. It highlighted the imperative to innovate collectively rather than independently, ensuring that advancements benefit the whole industry.

The STG exemplifies this approach by demonstrating that issues faced by infection control practitioners within operating theatres are often analogous to challenges encountered by HVAC engineers. By pooling our knowledge and resources, we have made significant advances in addressing shared concerns efficiently and effectively.

As we move forward, I advocate for a unified industry approach that transcends boundaries and encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration. By leveraging collective expertise and embracing global standards, we can accelerate innovation, improve sustainability practices, and enhance operational efficiencies across the HVAC&R sector. This holistic approach not only prepares us for future challenges, but also positions the industry to lead in creating healthier, more resilient built environments worldwide.

Could you tell us a little about yourself outside of work?

Outside of work, I try to enjoy an active and adventurous lifestyle that reflects my values and personal interests. Growing up, I was always encouraged to stay engaged either mentally or physically, an attribute that has stayed with me throughout my life.

As a beach lover, influenced by my Caribbean roots, I often spend weekends on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland playing beach tennis with friends. When I’m not near the ocean, I indulge in 4WD excursions across the east coast of Australia, relishing the thrill of exploring rugged terrain and remote landscapes.

Travel is another passion of mine, and I continually strive to expand my horizons by visiting new countries. I have explored 23 countries and counting, each journey adding to my appreciation for diverse cultures and experiences.

These pursuits outside of work not only provide me with relaxation and fulfillment, but also fuel my curiosity and passion for life.

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