HVAC engineering is oftentimes more art than it is science.
In celebration of Engineers Week 2021 and its theme “Imagining Tomorrow,” we’re recognizing the engineer’s role in solving some of the most complex challenges we face as a society. Engineers are critical for achieving progress and creating a better world for tomorrow. In this article, a few of Southland’s senior engineers share how they resonate with this year’s Engineers Week theme.
Matt Dolan, Associate Principal Engineer
Chris Vallo, Senior Design Engineer
Scott Winkler, Vice President, Engineering
How can you contribute to “imagining tomorrow” as an engineer?
Matt Dolan: By developing tools to help increase the speed of design and training younger engineers. One person cannot imagine all outcomes and design ideas. Though, one person training others and providing an environment that allows for innovation and ‘new’ ideas without forcing people back to ‘what we have always done’ can help move designs forward and create a better building for tomorrow.
Chris Vallo: I like giving younger engineers an opportunity to come up with some designs on their own and having discussions with them to ensure that it complies with any codes/project requirements. It gives them a sense of ownership and sometimes I find myself learning a thing or two.
Scott Winkler: I’m an engineer that solves problems and builds engineering teams, so my role in imagining tomorrow is to help someone get there.
How does your job or engineering in general support larger global efforts, including climate change, clean energy, cyber security, etc.?
Matt Dolan: We meet or exceed the building requirements and local design conditions by providing owners with designs that take into account their building conditions, budget, and location to best suit their specific needs. There is not one design that serves all building types and not one method of saving energy or providing a green building that will work in all locations. We strive to provide the best solution for each problem.
Chris Vallo: Each time newer building codes are being adopted, the requirements become more stringent to help improve energy efficiency. By ensuring the systems we design comply with these codes, we will continue our path to reducing climate pollution.
Scott Winkler: We design buildings to meet our clients’ goals for either carbon neutral or energy neutral designs. We typically don’t set the goals, but we can help each company reach the goals they set.
As an engineer, what’s the most helpful piece of advice you’ve received or what do you wish you knew before starting your career in engineering?
Matt Dolan: HVAC engineering is oftentimes more art than it is science. There are so many options available for a specific building type that you have to learn what to use when, including when something does not quite calculate out as you would expect, but it will still be fine when built. The numbers do not always add up completely with this type of engineering, but with time and experience you understand what works and what does not.
Chris Vallo: Keep learning. Technology will continue to change and understanding new technologies may give you an innovated solution on one of your projects.
Scott Winkler: Maintain a positive personal brand with peers and supervisors in your company.
As we celebrate Engineers Week this year, we reflect on how engineered solutions can lead to a better tomorrow. In continuous celebration of this special week, click here to learn more about Southland’s Rachel Coyle, Design Engineer I, to discover how she was introduced to engineering and to get insight about her journey as a young engineer.