Kevin Dickens, P.E. is a feature author and former columnist forEngineered Systems. The Deputy Director for the St. Louis office of Jacobs Facilities (a subsidiary of Jacobs Engineering), he has worked on a wide array of applications from schools to top secret command centers.

So, what was for lunch?

I've gotten rounder than my wife prefers so I'm trying to shed some pounds ... therefore, I had nothing for lunch.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I thought I wanted to be an electrical engineer. I told folks that I was going to invent a 747 that could fly on a 9-volt battery through a series of "step-up transformers." Then in my first physics class, I learned the first law of thermodynamics and realized energy can neither be created nor destroyed no matter what kind of transformer you invent.

What's playing in your car stereo?

In the mornings it is silent, but lately I have been playing an old They Might be Giants CD, John Henry, on the way home.

What's the most memorable piece of engineering advice you ever received?

My first boss told me that "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." I was really impressed until I learned a few years later that it was originally Einstein's quote. Regardless I have tried to apply it to all I do, but I have found it does not apply in male/female relationships...they cannot be reduced.

What habit could the design and/or facility maintenance community change or adopt right now that would make a real difference in the final product?

Stop thinking of sustainability in terms of LEED points and just simply do the right thing.

Project or assignment you were particularly proud of, and why?

About ten years ago I did a high school and applied water source heat pumps. Nothing ground breaking, but it was the first time I stepped out of my Packaged Rooftop VAV comfort zone.

The most important development in HVAC over the last ten years?

The interest in UFAD in the North American market. Unfortunately the tools and technology are playing catch up.

The most important development in HVAC over the next ten years?

Three things: UFAD design tools and enough projects out there to start developing a reliable design basis; the replacement of R-22; and the inevitable obsolescence of LEED.

You can have one dinner with any four people, living or dead. Who do you invite?

If it's one dinner, I don't want to invite any folks who won't get along, so Adolf and Attila are off the list. So, I guess Jesus, 'cause I have a lot of questions for the guy. My first patriarchal ancestor who came to America, because I would like to know how we got here and if I'm anything like him. Mike Myers from the Austin Powers movies, because he cracks my sons up. And Kurt Warner, the former quarterback for the St. Louis Rams because my wife has a crush on him, and she deserves a little happiness. (Ed. Note - Mrs. Dickens, Kurt Warner is now on the roster of the Arizona Cardinals, FYI.)

Parting tips for a new engineer?

Well, the keep things simple concept, and always try to stretch yourself technically on each project. I wouldn't advise any one to go too far out on a limb, but if you take little steps forward on each project, then you will never stagnate and before you know it, you are out in front of your peers.

To view other Engineer Snapshots, click on the link(s) below.

Engineer Snapshot -- #1 -- Wayne Dunn, P.E., IAQCP .

Engineer Snapshot -#2 Lee Burgett, P.E.