Why We Boldly Go: Innovating for Impact and the Future
February 11, 2022
Matt Srnec’s drive to develop solutions and innovate is how he makes a positive impact—as an engineer and as a master innovator.
3 min read
At Trane Technologies, we dare to do things differently by constantly pushing boundaries and embracing an innovative culture. We strive to have a positive impact in all that we do, with the belief in our potential to change the world.
According to his kids, Matt Srnec is ‘Instagram marginal’ and has poor ‘selfie’ skills. Good thing for Matt, neither are required to earn Trane Technologies’ prestigious title of Master Innovator. He qualified for that after earning his 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th U.S. Patent for Trane Technologies’ Thermo King business in 2021. (He also holds 3 U.S. Design Patents, which protect the aesthetic or ornamental features of a product.)
Matt’s interest in innovation came long before social media pressures – or cell phones for that matter. “I remember disassembling radios, appliances and other electrical equipment looking to make them better as early as age six or seven,” said Matt. “And while I usually ended up with something that was more art than function, I eventually learned to solder and actually make things better.”
Examples included a flashing doorbell for the deaf, a burglar alarm for a chicken coop and a device to set up theatrical pyrotechnics. His father, an electrician and “expert problem-solver” had a big influence on Matt.
“I would watch him troubleshoot electrical issues either in-person or over the phone and was amazed at what he could visualize and solve without taking everything apart or even being there,” said Matt. “My dad taught me that asking the right questions, listening to the customer and having the knowledge and experience to understand the root cause of an issue or need are critical to innovation and creating solutions that will be truly valued.”
Matt decided mid-way through high school that he would go into electrical engineering, wanting to expand beyond the electrical projects he had completed with his dad or as part of the local 4-H Club.
While earning his degree in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, Matt decided to focus on a power utilities career path. He then learned that the economy dictates job availability, so he took a sales engineering job with a small company. “I was selling electric motors, variable speed drives and repair services to industrial customers in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area,” explained Matt. “And it was a great start because I learned that I liked working closely with customers and helping to solve their technical problems – a favorite part of my job today.”
Joining the innovative culture at Trane Technologies nearly 10 years ago, Matt was hired to expand wireless sensor technology as well as support electrical engineering needs as part of the Thermo King Aftermarket. His first patents were around wireless sensor design and utility technology areas. Next came solar and an expansion into electrification and other growth areas as the rapid needs for new technology emerged.
“Working within ideation teams in these need-based focus areas to build our intellectual property (IP) value in electrification really drove the focus,” explained Matt.
My dad taught me that asking the right questions, listening to the customer and having the knowledge and experience to understand the root cause of an issue or need are critical to innovation and creating solutions that will be truly valued.
Many of Matt’s patents are examples of innovating for the future and how collaboration and structured ideation can quickly generate high-value ideas.
Case in point, a rapid experiment that successfully powered an air shipment container with solar and battery power using AGM batteries and off-grid inverters was never commercialized due to cost and logistical issues. “We were granted a patent, but the idea was stalled,” said Matt. “But now with new programs in development, that IP will likely be reviewed as part of new initiatives – that’s exciting.”
It is the unending possibilities that motivate Matt.
“I think the trucking industry is in a technology growth mode that is unparalleled. Our leadership in the transport refrigeration market can only be maintained if we choose to meet that growth with new ideas and innovation. Customers expect it and look to us for this leadership – and that keeps me motivated to keep innovating.”
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