Senior Electrical Engineer, Mason & Hanger
"I like being able to save energy, reduce U.S. reliance on non-renewable resources, and help save money over the life of the job."
I had worked for about 15 years as a draftsman/designer. After working under some engineers for whom I had to make corrections on their plans and calculations, I knew I could do better. I had to go back to college to get my engineering degree and PE license so I could be more in control of my own work life. Paying the mortgage was also a big motivator! I worked part time and commuted to a full-time class schedule at Old Dominion University. Three years later I had my BS and MSEE degrees; one year after that I had my PE license, and doubled my previous salary.
I get to design projects in the U.S. and abroad that allow American diplomats and military personnel to more safely and comfortably work and live in challenging physical and political climates. We are always concerned with keeping them safe, while also trying to provide a comfortable “home away from home” for long deployments where they may rarely leave the facility we design. Providing energy security for such sites also means I get to design high-efficiency, sustainable systems including photovoltaic arrays that I never got to work with at previous employers. I like being able to save energy, reduce U.S. reliance on non-renewable resources, and help save money over the life of the job (my tax dollars!).
I started working for an Architecture & Engineering firm in 1983, when all drawings were ink or pencil-drawn on mylar or vellum. Before long we used AutoCAD to draw, then as a design tool, and now most projects we 3D model everything using Revit Building Information Modeling (BIM). It has made much of the work more exact and better coordinated, while also speeding up production, allowing us to operate more efficiently. Conversely, client now demand that projects move faster which can be challenging, so we need to make best use of all the available tools. Design-wise, emphasis has moved from just making a project functional (such as having enough light in a room with an aesthetically pleasing design, which is just a given now) to making it energy efficient. Lighting an office space in the 1990s consumed about 2.5 watts per square foot; now we routinely can design a well-lit building that consumes only 0.6 watts per foot, saving over 75% of energy costs versus how it was done 25 years ago.
I most enjoy traveling around the world to countries where Mason & Hanger has worked to build or upgrade U.S. Embassies and other facilities. I’ve helped scout out sites where we assist the U.S. Government in evaluating locations for future embassies. I’ve also worked on renovations where we had to survey a facility to determine what is good for continued use and what we should replace with newer systems and equipment. When we finished the site work, I’ve had the opportunity to go scuba diving in Papua New Guinea, see hippos and giraffes in Niger, and have cheese fondue in Switzerland.