I have been working for just over a year with Summer Consultants, Inc. as a mechanical engineer. I have really enjoyed the opportunities and jobs presented to me thus far. Summer Consultants specializes in occupied historic properties and old federal buildings. These renovation projects are unique and challenging. The scope of work, in some cases, is smaller on these types of projects; so with only a year of experience, I have touched upon HVAC controls, air handler design and distribution, chiller replacements, laboratory design, data center design, construction administration, and historic renovation strategies. The ability to work on such a variety of different projects is great as a young engineer in training.
A major reason Summer Consultants’ work excites me is because the solutions are often difficult. You cannot simply move part of the existing structure, equipment, or people to make the design work. It is like a puzzle and you have to provide a solution that’s fits within the building existing confines. 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? Most of these projects are to provide replacements and upgrades for mechanical systems that have failed or simply just don’t perform well. This is a learning opportunity in itself. Examining points of failure and maintenance issues in these existing facilities makes you more cognizant of potential design pitfalls. A good way to design practical and viable solutions is to see what other solutions have not worked.
Out of all the projects, I have really taken a liking to HVAC controls. A recent job I worked on was to replace/upgrade the HVAC controls for a nuclear research testing facility. In such a critical and high risk building, the HVAC equipment plays a large role in the safe removal of radiation from occupied areas. I enjoyed learning about the coordination of all the equipment to respond appropriately to certain events, whether they were normal or emergency conditions. Working with one of our controls experts, Anne Juran, I helped design the control points required to accurately control heating and cooling, energy saving strategies, building air balance, and much more. After working on this project, I definitely had a new appreciation for how complex and critically important HVAC controls are. I hope to continue learning more about controls and much more with my residency at Summer Consultants.