The life & times of an HVAC Engineer

{July 18, 2011}   Consider yourself one of the family

There are many mis-conceptions when it comes to engineers. People think we’re perpetually covered in grease & armpit deep in machinery. Or that we’re clad in white coats, carrying clip boards and peering over halfmoon glasses with our silvery hair. Last but not least, many people seem to think that engineers are lone geeks sitting in dark back rooms, speaking to no-one for days on end.

Now ok, there are a fair few grey hairs to be spotted in most engineering offices, and my mother claims she knows I’m an engineer because I’m always mucky…so perhaps I shouldn’t argue too much with the first two descriptions. The last, however, is another matter. Engineers, whilst they don’t tend to be renowned for having the greatest social skills or ’emotional intelligence’, are not the sad lonely folk we’re often painted to be. Engineers are cogs in a machine – they need all the other cogs to be able to produce anything of any use.

We are always working alongside other engineers; as a building services engineer I need the electrical engineer to provide a power supply for my air handling units, I need the control & instrumentation engineer to monitor and control the air conditions passing through it. I need the civil engineer to build a strong enough floor for me to put all my equipment on and the process engineer to tell me if there is anything hazardous or explosive in the air I’m extracting. I need the mechanical engineer to route, and support, pipes for heating & cooling and of course I need an architect to design the building layout. And that’s before you get to all the people I work with on the client’s team or along the supply chain.

When you take all of this, and the support of more experienced engineers from your own department, into account, being an engineer is certainly not a lonely job. Instead I often end up feeling like part of the family. Of course families can be very caring & sharing, and they can also be very argumentative, but whatever their temprement on a given day, I’m always glad to be a part of them.

The fact that engineering teams have to work so closely together means that team bonding is an important point to consider as a project or business stream manager. So every now & then the ‘family’ all come together and head out for a meal….and a few drinks, and following the drinks…a few anecdotes. Which means that alongside all our drawings, calculations & specifications there’s a lot of banter, and a lot of grinning at the rememberence of stories that might not have been told without the help of a pint. When those stories include revelations about someone’s saturday night cross-dressing habit, comparisons between team members & the cast of baywatch, and the discovery of someones marvellous singing voice through the medium of “I’m a lumberjack & I’m ok…”, it’s little wonder that the engineering office is so filled with laughter now & then.


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