From Voldemort to Boba Fett to Cruella de Vil to Skeletor, the world has encountered some of the most heinous villains imaginable. 

None of them compare to the year 2020. 

With breath drenched in COVID-19 and claws sharp enough to split the seams of modern society, the year 2020 has left millions in despair, carving a path of wreckage and destruction that may take decades to repair. And, we’re only four months in. 



As of April 21, the COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 2.5 million people and claimed the lives of more than 173,000. Forty-two American states have implemented lockdown orders. Numerous metro areas in states without such orders — including Tulsa, Oklahoma; Jackson, Wyoming; and Salt Lake City — are also under stay-at-home orders. 

In total, approximately 95% of the country, or about 305 million people, have been advised to remain inside their homes. Despite being deemed essential, the demands within the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) and mechanical systems industries have slowed dramatically. 

A recent survey, conducted by Engineered Systems and Clear Seas Research, quantified the sting felt within the built environment. Astoundingly, 46% of AEC firms reported they intend to temporarily suspend employees (with or without pay). Additionally, 51% report jobs have been delayed or cancelled.

Of the mechanical systems companies responding to the report, 80% expect a decrease in new business activities. That’s four out of five companies.


When asked to identify their primary concern, 75% of AEC respondents identified the state of the current economy, 68% expressed concerns regarding their business goals over the next three months, and 65% expressed the most concern about the vitality of their businesses over the next 12 months. 

“Obviously, we all have personal concerns, but I believe the next three months are going to test our economy,” said Howard McKew, P.E., CPE, FASHRAE, president of Building SmartSoftware LLC. “This is going to test all types of companies, including ‘self-employed’ businesses and firms small and big. It’s going to set back many in ‘middle America.’ Unfortunately, the poor will continue to be poor, and the wealthy will get through this quite easily.”

As difficult as it may be, many respondents are doing their absolute best to put professional concerns aside during these strange times. 

“Business concerns pale in comparison to the safety of family and friends, employees, and colleagues,” said Andrew McKeever, P.E., LEED AP BD+C, principal, Method Engineering Group. “When the well-being of others is the primary concern, I’m certain we will all work together to achieve our business goals when the time is appropriate.”



In the end, Harry Potter overcame Voldemort; Boba Fett was knocked backward into the Sarlaac Pit; Cruella de Vil was sent to prison; and He-Man, by the power of Grayskull, slayed Skeletor. 

I apologize for the spoilers, though, brace yourself, as here comes another. Despite the widespread wickedness disseminated so far this year, America will emerge victorious. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but this villain will fall. And, who better to lead America’s revival than its capable corps of engineers? 

I can’t wait to revel in victory. I’m even more excited to share your stories of resilience, resurgence, and revitalization. 

America’s never been defeated before, and we’re sure as hell not going to lose this invisible war. Hang in there, everyone.  



April 22

Microgrids – Optimizing Power Availability

Presented by Julius Neudorfer, chief technology officer for North American Access Technologies Inc., and sponsored by Kohler.


May 20

The Impact of Renewable Energy on Power Management Systems

Presented by Julius Neudorfer, chief technology officer for North American Access Technologies Inc., and sponsored by Kohler.


May 1-31

Microgrids – Building Safety Month



May 4-6

Little Red Schoolhouse: Plumbing Systems Design Seminar

Morton Grove, Illinois Bell & Gossett


May 14

ASHRAE Webinar: V in HVAC — What, Why, Where, How, and How Much;



May 21

Coffee with Caleffi: Playing it Cool with Radiant