Lee Benzel, PE
I have always been very interested in the mechanics of how things work and problem solving. Naturally, this pointed towards a career in engineering. However, I did not always have an interest in the building industry until I stumbled upon the architectural engineering program at Penn State. I quickly became enthralled with not only the industry but also everything that came with it, such as the coordination effort of multiple disciplines: electrical, lighting, mechanical, construction management, structural and many more.
In school, I had the chance to participate in the AEI student design competition with a multi discipline team. The experience opened my eyes to the importance of coordination and understanding of other discipline requirements. As a mechanical engineer, I try to approach every job with a wholistic view of the design. Is there structural support for the new equipment? What are the available electrical services? Can I get the piece of equipment built in the location shown?
As most new engineers can probably attest to, the goal is to work on innovative, cutting-edge, new building design. However, my perception on the building industry changed after graduation. Since I have been with Summer Consultants, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the design challenges of renovation design. As a majority of the buildings I work on are existing, there are great opportunities to provide energy efficient and effective solutions for systems that have exercised their life cycle expectancy.
Renovation design, in my experience, requires unique solutions to every project. It is like a puzzle and you have to provide a solution that fits within the building’s existing confines, so I am problem solving at an even greater level. How will someone get the equipment into the space? How can it be built? How will they maintain it? How will they control this new equipment with existing systems? How will the other trades coordinate with the mechanical system? As a young engineer developing knowledge of the industry and engineering design, the renovation industry teaches and pushes me in every design I approach.