Polaris Control System Team

Global Team Leadership Award

Polaris Control System Team, Global Team Leadership Award, Headshot

Polaris Control System Team

Carrier Corporation

For forming and managing a global and diverse engineering team; for overcoming language and cultural nuances to ensure collaboration; and for using technical complexities as an opportunity to innovate.

Following the innovative and technical work produced by the Polaris Control System Team, Polaris is well on the way to becoming an industry standard and shows Carrier’s ongoing commitment to the development of energy-efficient, reliable, and environmentally responsible solutions.

Polaris is a large, water-cooled centrifugal chiller product being designed with new technologies and modern features. It has an inbuilt smart control system that operates the chiller and protects it from adverse conditions. Customers will benefit from reduced maintenance and reduced energy consumption. The Polaris chiller is a major development project within the commercial sector of Carrier, a multinational appliance company.

Puja Chopra is the driving force behind this project. The associate director of systems and software engineering, she works in Carrier’s commercial controls engineering department in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is the Polaris Control System Team’s first systems engineer, leveraging 12 years of aerospace experience with a vision to develop a standard set of definitions, skills, processes, and tools as they relate to the profession. She focuses on early phases of product development life cycle, including identifying objectives, defining requirements, functional analysis, and risk management. Chopra oversees every aspect of the project and coordinates releases, deliveries, and issues resolutions between the test teams in North America and development teams in Asia.

The controls team includes service engineers, electrical and mechanical designers, lab and bench test technicians who are culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse. Seven members — Shufu Ding, Hong Zhang, Liang Qian, Jiawen Chen, Shanshan Huang, Yuwei Zhang, and Jingren Hu — work in the Carrier Shanghai Research and Development Center in China. And seven — Chopra, Tyler Ludwig, Wenhua Li, Martin Sanchez, Ahmed Altaay, Samuel Narcisse, and Yongjun Hou — are at Carrier Corporation in Charlotte. Third-party developers Cyber Power Systems Inc., in Taipei City, Taiwan, and Siemens Systems in Virginia round out the project teams.

Different time zones, cultures, or languages did not hinder progress. Chopra championed diversity and inclusion, which led to creative solutions drawn from a range of perspectives and experiences. She also collaborated with Shufu Ding, engineering manager of the Shanghai team, to implement RACI, an acronym for “responsible, accountable, consulted, informed,” a linear chart to clearly identify roles and responsibilities across global teams. The purpose is to minimize conflicts, increase efficiency, and strengthen communication.

Chopra encourages open dialogue to help team members feel invested in the work and focused on the end goal: develop an innovative, energy-efficient product that meets Department of Energy requirements. Work accomplished by the Polaris Control System Team is projected to have a multimillion-dollar business impact in annual revenues by reducing time to market and meeting product launch dates.