Letters: The right track
Over many years, I had responsibilities at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati that went from engine development testing to facility construction to design and construction management (including development of design and construction standards), and finally, safety and environmental management.
My experience has instilled much of the same the same focus that you express so well.
design process and design reviews must be thorough, with all stake
- Customers need to be
informed in ways that they understand and make them part of the
- The HVAC and safety
system operation sequence needs to be spelled out by the design
engineer, in understandable terms that make the objective and method
obvious (rather than leaving this to the controls
- The design reviews need to
include formal customer commitment, to avoid design and construction
- The bid documents for
firm bid construction should make clear three acceptable brands for
equipment (using the "or approved equal" language leads to
games. The recommended vendor feels locked in and keeps the price
high, then the winning contractor attempts to substitute and pocket
the difference). The construction bids should request unit prices to
be applied to changeorders for any likely adds or deletes.
- Some of the increase in construction documents is disturbing.
Part of this occurs because it is so easy to copy important-sounding
text. Part is a CYA mentality. We had extensive facility engineering
standards - every one that I rewrote, I reduced by 50%. While some
CYA is essential, we are far better off when we clearly and simply
convey to the contractor our intent. With too many words, the
contractor will likely not read it all and will miss the
- Commissioning has been a key
focus for you and is so important. Without this, the design intent
and performance will not likely be achieved. Contractors would
frequently fail to initially perform proper commissioning and attempt
to satisfy me by giving vague reassurances. My favorite response,
since we develop jet engines, was, "Say, you know, we have a
brand new engine design and we are going to fly in a brand new Boeing
plane. We really have not tested either, but we think they will work
well - can we count on you to be aboard the first flight?"
They usually get the point!
the training and reference material to maintenance is so important. I
insisted that the contractor provide bound manuals, with drawings and
commissioning data that clearly identified the specific equipment
used for this project. Mylar drawings are posted at the site. I
learned the hard way that my creative design was worthless without
Maintenance understanding and support.
- Feedback to the designer is often neglected but important.
Without this, the designer logically assumes that the design is
perfect. Feedback is needed from the contractor, owner, and
- Good contractors can be a real asset to the designer, giving feedback about the construction documents, design improvements from other sources, equipment that performs well or is of poor quality, simplifications, and cost reductions.
Philip V. Boyd P.E.
Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me with your comments and feedback. It is always good to get feedback - good or bad, but preferably good to reinforce we are on the right track with our topics.
Energy engineer follow-upI just read Howard McKew’s March article (“Energy Engineer Qualifications”). I'm a product of a technical HS myself; I worked my way though college as a drafter. I found your idea very interesting and would be interested in supporting a similar effort here in the Midwest. Could you possibly share with me any contacts you have on the educational side of things? Any input or direction would be most appreciated.
Kevin Dickens, P.E.
Mission Critical Specialist/Project Manager
Jacobs Global Buildings NA
Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me. At this point in time, the technical high school I was working with is in transition relative to filling the superintendent's position. The woman I was working with, and who was very interested in the concept, has decided to retire, and so the school is looking for a new superintendent at this moment. As a result, I'm not sure the direction of the school relative to this curriculum.
In the meantime, I've copied Leo Meyer, who e-mailed me in response to the column, and he provides training books along the lines of what I was addressing. You may find some of his books interesting along the lines of developing a curriculum.
So at this point in time, I'm in a holding pattern until someone is hired at the vocational school. At the same time, I have a client with an immediate need, and had this program been in place, my client would be looking to hire someone as an energy technician.