FORT WAYNE — Tyler Lemon, Columbia City High School and Ivy Tech Fort Wayne alumnus, vividly recalls the sage advice of his father, “you need to find a trade you’re good at, get the education you need, and make yourself an invaluable asset to a company.” And that’s what led Tyler to Ivy Tech Fort Wayne.

“I learned how machines operate. Now, I’m applying that knowledge to my everyday work life,” Lemon said. “The training I received was, by far, hands down, the best you could ever ask for.”

Fast forward 11 years — Lemon is the president of his own company, Orthopedic Validation Experts LLC, and was also recently recruited for his manufacturing industry knowledge and expertise by ALKU, a pharmaceutical consultant agency. As a result of Lemon’s work, education and proficiency, he will serve as a validation engineer for equipment that manufactures COVID-19 vaccinations.

But this wasn’t always the case. In 2009, Lemon planned to be an athlete at a four-year university.

When that didn’t pan out, he returned home to Columbia City and started full-time at 80/20 Inc., but his eyes were on his future. He paid close attention to every process and detail of his work and he started to see the bigger picture.

“I started to understand how everything worked, like setting up the machines, tooling, operation and production flow. I wanted to understand all the logic that was informing the manufacturing processes,” he said.

That’s when he found Deb Pitzer and her Industrial Technology team at Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne. He signed up for an associate’s of applied science in industrial technology with a machining concentration.

The program included blueprint reading, CNC programming, turning and milling. Lemon was also excited to apply everything he was learning at Ivy Tech whenever he went to work.

Today, Lemon has embarked on a new endeavor as president and founder of Orthopedic Validation Experts LLC. His company supports cutting edge processes in the medical industry by ensuring manufacturers comply with industry requirements for equipment and machinery installation, operation and performance.

The companies he works with build everything from shoulder, wrist, ankle, knee and even spinal vertebrae implants, as well as medical devices and implants.

Now, he’s embarking on new territory as an engineer on the manufacturing side of pharmaceuticals with vaccines for infectious diseases, including machines that will aid in the rapid production of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Lemon is an equipment validation engineering contractor with ALKU, where he employs thorough testing and inspection on manufacturing process equipment and facilities equipment to ensure they are capable of repeating and reproducing sustainable, high quality products per FDA regulated guidelines.

His oversight helps ensure safe products end up in consumers’ hands.

“I can truly say that if it wasn’t for the education I received from Ivy Tech Community College, I never would have been able to start my own business in orthopedic manufacturing,” Lemon said, as he embarks on his most exciting year yet.

“Ivy Tech Community College was the foundation to furthering my education. If it wasn’t for the Ivy Tech team, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I’m doing in my life.”

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