For many K-12 districts, the last day of school for students doesn’t necessarily mean the buildings are taking an extended recess. Instead, it marks the kickoff of a busy construction season that relies on superintendents, building operators, project engineers, construction managers, commissioning agents and many others to collaborate on anything from a boiler replacement to a major remodel—and have it completed in less than 12 weeks before classes are back in session.
Harlan Ward has been with McKinstry’s Wisconsin team for five years—currently in the role of Senior Program Manager. Many folks across the region have crossed paths with Harlan since 2010, but few know that Harlan has a propensity for daring and unexpected adventures. Luckily for Harlan, he also seems to have nine lives.
It’s no surprise to educators that providing a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) creates long-term positive benefits for students as they prepare to join the workforce.
In the past 10 years alone, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than non-STEM jobs. A strong workforce, in turn, strengthens local communities. McKinstry believes that the private sector has an important role to play in supporting these advancements in education, and we have a long history of putting that commitment into action in our communities through investments of our time, talents and resources.
We care about the future of today’s students, and we want to see the next generation succeed. That’s why we’re dedicated to creating opportunities for students from all backgrounds. So, what do we do?
“If something could go wrong with this building—and at the worst possible time—it probably will.”
This sentiment is often shared by facility managers and others facing a long list of repairs and upgrades that are all competing for often limited capital funds.
While taking a proactive approach requires some upfront investment, it can save building owners in the long run. When major mechanical and electrical equipment fails unexpectedly the costs add up for not only the repair or replacement of the equipment, but also lost productivity and/or delays.
A facility condition assessment (FCA) can be the facility manager’s best friend. This in-depth audit and report on the current conditions of building structures, systems and equipment along with recommendations for repair and replacement priorities can be used to mitigate unexpected expenses.
One of the great pleasures of McKinstry’s work in the Great Lakes region is working with K-12 school districts every day. Unfortunately—due to budget pressures caused by increasing costs and declining state funding—we find these districts are too-often forced to delay necessary improvements to their school facilities. Accordingly, we often work with districts to find alternative funding sources for much-needed facility and infrastructure upgrades that aim to improve the learning environment.
Project delays due to inadequate funding often lead to costly emergency repairs. Even worse, such delays can further a public perception that a district doesn’t plan or maintain their facilities properly. Most vitally, though, these delays can have an adverse effect on classroom effectiveness.
So, how can school districts avoid disastrous delays while also staying within their budget constraints? McKinstry has the answer!
Despite the popular perception of pocket-protector-clad engineers spending their days crunching numbers and running calculations, McKinstry believes that engineering is both a science and an art.
Within the energy business, everyone is always looking for the next big thing. Often, that’s a new piece of technology, a new form of energy, or the most recent bit of analysis. salesforce service cloud . Those are all well and good, but what if the most significant factor when it comes to saving energy was inside all of us?
One of the many special qualities that characterize the people who come to work at McKinstry is a genuine desire to make a positive difference—both at the company and in the community. Across the enterprise, we are moved to share our success with others.
It is McKinstry’s honor to support the generosity of its people through an employee-directed giving program. Since 1999, employees have sent $1.4 million from the McKinstry Charitable Foundation to non-profit organizations across the country.
These days, school districts face several challenges to maintaining energy-efficient facilities while also providing a safe and healthy learning environment. Among these challenges are:
- Constantly-changing student needs
- Security issues and compliance requirements
- Evolving technology and increased energy use
- Aging physical infrastructure and deferred maintenance needs
- Budgetary strain
Since education is a school district’s first priority, though, these facility challenges are often overlooked. Even when identified, they can be difficult to afford. However, we at McKinstry know there’s a great opportunity for school districts to simultaneously lower their utility bills and have more money available for teachers, students, and classrooms.
As with any environment, it’s impossible to make a change without first identifying and then finding solutions for the problem. In most cases, administration, occupants and operators are not taught what to do and how they can make a difference. So how do schools waste energy and money? How do they make changes to save?
McKinstry often talks about the impact of school facility improvements on students—better air quality, improved academic performance, and utility bill savings that can then be better spent on supplies and technology.
That being said, McKinstry’s commitment to education often goes beyond building projects. We love to be involved at the classroom level in the school districts where we live and work. In fact, McKinstry recently visited DeForest Area School District in Wisconsin and Wayzata Public Schools in Minnesota for that very reason.
In November 2015, Trenton Smith and Dan Choi from McKinstry’s office in Madison, Wisc. visited Windsor Elementary in nearby DeForest Area School District as volunteers during the school’s Junior Achievement Day.
Dan and Trenton actively engaged more than 20 young learners in Mrs. Keyes’ first grade class in discussions about what makes a neighborhood, what a business is, what businesses they might find in a neighborhood, and the differences between a need (food, shelter, clothing) and a want (toys or a puppy).
By taking part in these critical thinking exercises, Dan and Trenton gave these students an early introduction into the important concepts of community, planning, and prioritizing. This was their second visit to the school as part of an ongoing McKinstry partnership, with a third Junior Achievement Day scheduled in March.
In January 2016, Chris Sawyer and Jessica Aleshire from McKinstry’s Minneapolis office participated in a Career Exploration Day at Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minn. Nearly 80 high school students attended the optional event to meet with professionals from the engineering and construction industries and discover potential career paths in those fields.
The Wayzata students asked a variety of questions from “What does an engineer do?” to “What kind of education and experience will help me get started in the energy or construction trades?”
After spending about two hours with students, Chris and Jessica joined other industry participants in meeting with a few teachers from the high school to discuss how secondary students interested in energy or construction careers can be further supported in pursing that line of work.
McKinstry realizes that America’s next generation of engineers, electricians, and pipefitters is currently learning in classrooms like these in the Midwest. It’s why we value making the K-12 learning environment the very best it can be, and it’s why we’re privileged to play our small part in nurturing the students who will—quite literally—build our future.