It’s no secret that the work of an engineer is demanding. We are responsible for translating dreams into realistic and functional projects. For keeping up on the latest trends in technology, materials, energy and security, while hitting deadlines and meeting client demands. For maintaining a positive attitude while anticipating worst-case scenarios and for creating safeguards to ensure they don’t occur.
Our work is certainly not a nine to five job, and we have a lot to try and fit into a 24-hour day. But while the work is important and understandably takes priority, it’s also crucial that we make time to stay engaged in the industry we belong to, and the engineers we partner with. Joining organizations, participating in mentorship programs or even grabbing coffee with colleagues can help foster ideas and spur creativity.
When I joined the board of the New York State Professional Engineering Society (NYSSPE), I knew it was a chance for me to meet other professionals in my discipline and gain insights from their experiences. I understood I’d be responsible for helping get other young engineers involved, and to potentially organize an event or attend a networking session.
What I didn’t realize was that I would also gain skill sets outside of my immediate specialty, including management, planning, public relations, advertising and finance. That I would regularly engage with both colleagues and competitors to learn what they were working on, what they were paying attention to and what I should keep an eye on to become an industry leader. I was pushed way outside of my comfort zone, and while it was sometimes tough (and perhaps a little awkward), it made me a more well-rounded professional.
Joining groups outside of our day-to-day project work allows us to expand our horizons and receive experience we may not have access to in our careers. It also gives us a network of individuals we can reach out to for insights or problem-solve. For example, I originally met Ted Fowler through NYSSPE when he was at a competitor firm – fast forward and years later, we’re still bouncing ideas off of each other, just now as colleagues.
It’s our duty as professionals to make sure we’re providing the next generation the tools and insights needed to continually better our work and the profession. There are plenty of options out there to choose from, but here are some I’ve been a part of if you need inspiration:
So get out there! Make your mark, and learn something new. You’ll thank yourself for years to come.
Check out our blog for more insights and updates during #Eweek2018
The building design and construction industry strongly affects the economy, the environment and society as a whole. It touches the daily lives of everyone, as the built environment heavily influences the quality of life. However, when compared to other industries, it has traditionally been slow at technological development and process change. While research and development boomed in all fields of science and technology after World War II, the information revolution age hasn’t alleviated the professional chores of an engineer. Sure, disciplinary technical chores are faster and more accurate, but there’s yet to be an integrated convergence of new technology to enhance our problem solving.
Unlike in the past, engineering professionals now require high performance organization, culture and incentive schemes for their staff to quickly react to the technology changes and integration skills they will face moving forward. Most of this new technology revolves around knowledge management. BIM systems are evolving from the drafting boards and CAD to information and design, construction and facility maintenance tools captured in the design model. The professional still remains responsible for the outcome, but the tools and input specialization are more fragmented. Contracts are evolving into three-way partnerships with incentivized agreements between the client, design professional and builder. Also, the quantity of construction specification divisions have increased to meet the demands of skilled professionals, vendors, contractors and commissioning agents.
As technology changes, design professionals must respond or become irrelevant in the eyes of clients and the public. We must continually challenge common practices, the way we work and the tools we work with. We must embrace change and remain innovative, while providing the best, most efficient and highest value to clients, employers and society.
It may seem daunting, but through diligence and keeping an open mind, we as engineers will succeed. I’ve experienced it firsthand. Take the Occidental Chemical Office Building as an example – this project drove HVAC and task-ambient lighting energy innovation soon after the 1970’s energy crisis through a controlled louvered building skin that reacted efficiently to the northeast climate. Later in the early 2000’s, Ave Maria University integrated a Florida new campus’s administration and teaching systems, building systems, and facilities maintenance systems on a common efficient, cost effective, reliable and robust data network. These were massive challenges for our teams at the time, but they put professional teams at their best and resulted in a win-win-win for us as the design professionals, the client and the industry.
Engineering will continue to be a cornerstone of the world’s economy as it drives our workplaces, buildings, infrastructure and travel means within the built environment. But action is imperative to move the industry’s value chain forward and for all players to succeed. Public projects and regulations should educate, spread and speed up the adoption of new technologies. The industry should enhance coordination and cooperation and agree upon common goals and standards agreeable to all stakeholders. Private companies need to assess the new technologies, materials and opportunities, and then adjust operations, processes and business models. Design professionals must work along with client and contractor partnerships to share work planning, trim costs and execute holistically as part of the transformation framework.
As knowledge is shared, the trick will be maintaining the proper balance and responsibilities for outcomes. Actions and innovations for mutual benefit will secure everyone’s future, in the engineering industry and for society in general.
Check our blog for more insights and updates during #Eweek2018
Creative energy inspires me. It always has, always will. So, moderating our second Buffalo Urban Futures Forum event at The Martin Group’s new workplace in December proved remarkably inspiring, as it brought together some of the leading creatives voices in the City of Buffalo. Panelists included:
- Tod Martin, President & Chief Creative Officer at The Martin Group
- Dana Marciniak, Director of PR and Brand Communications for New Era Cap
- Aaron Ott, Curator of Public Art for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Through our discussion, we explored three key themes: The importance of place, what it means to stay creatively relevant and finally where our city’s collective creative energy is headed. Each panelist shared their unique perspective on these topics.
- Dana spoke passionately about New Era’s long history in the city, from its early days on Genesee Street to its current global headquarters on Delaware. Ave. She highlighted how the company has evolved from a company that designs and creates hats, to a renowned global brand and cultural icon. Crossing everything from global business expansion to Spike Lee and Chance the Rapper, Dana revealed how New Era is positioned to lead our city’s creative charge moving forward.
- Sitting in his company’s new workplace, Tod talked about the importance of planting a flag on Buffalo’s Main Street and in the heart of its theater district. He highlighted how the space empowers employees and also how it increases the The Martin Group’s civic visibility. Beyond fueling his own company’s creative culture, The Martin Group must constantly innovate to help leading companies evolve and reposition their brand for greater success.
- As the first ever Curator of Public Art for the Albright-Knox, Aaron Ott talked about how public art can help channel a community’s identify and passion. He also addressed how public art helps bring museums into the community, opening their doors and connecting with neighborhoods, even talking about the success of Shantell Martin’s Dance Every Day piece.
The group also had the opportunity to share their vision of what’s next for Buffalo, with ideas ranging from improved education, attracting breakthrough companies to the city, renewed investment in public transit, and new engagement around Buffalo’s art and design culture.
The event inspired me and hopefully many of the 100+ attendees who joined us in The Martin Group’s new space downtown. I’ve included several photos from the event below. We’re already looking forward to our 2018 Buffalo Urban Futures Forum events.