With the clients who you work for and product vendors that you work with to complete a design. Tools that we use every day are usually software based. You are on a laptop, you are on a computer, you’re running simulations of energy performance or you’re running load calculations to determine how much energy the building is going to take to keep it at 72 or 74 degrees. You put in the physical parameters of the building, the geometry, the windows, and the roof. You make assumptions or get information on the people, the lighting, the equipment, and how long the building is going to be used.
The other tools we use are usually like handheld temperature and humidity devices, pressure gauges, pressure devices. We go out to the field and measure pressure, temperature, and humidity. Being an HVAC Engineer in Minnesota, you’re exposed to so many different temperature and humidity extremes. It’s different than being an engineer for instance in California where it is usually 72 degrees all the time. You don’t have nearly the temperature difference between the inside and outside whereas in Minnesota you have to design for a 100 degree day with a 50 relative humidity versus minus 16 with zero humidity. A large percentage of the energy that is consumed in the United States goes to heating and cooling buildings fans, pumps, air handling units, cooling towers, chillers. All of this stuff takes energy and it is all just for occupant comfort or safety of the occupants. As a designer engineer, as a mechanical engineer in that industry, you have a tremendous opportunity to be able to reduce that energy consumption. One common misconception is that people who have an aptitude for this are good with numbers, they like numbers and all they want to do is work with numbers. The reality is you do work with numbers every day but just as important to that is your interpersonal and communication skills. Communication skills are extremely important in that you are always trying to communicate with owners, with vendors, with coworkers, try to help them understand your idea is, try to understand what their ideas are. We have to get it right the first time. We don’t have the opportunity to build a sample building and see how it is going to work. We’ve got to get it right on paper and get it right the first time. That honestly doesn’t always happen exactly the way you plan.
so you have got to be able to think on your feet and make adjustments to the system during construction or even after construction. You should have an aptitude for how things work and I have talked to many other people in my industry and in my field as well and as an engineer that is something that is very common among all of us, that natural curiosity of what makes this work, how was it made. If you have that then I think mechanical engineering might be a good choice.