By Sarah Moore, Senior Mechanical Engineer
Seeking a new environment to learn and grow, I joined McKinstry about six months ago as a Senior Mechanical Engineer.
From the outside looking in, McKinstry had a reputation for quality and integrity. Beyond that, I found myself drawn to the diversity of work McKinstry has to offer: It’s uniquely positioned to solve some of the biggest challenges the built environment and construction industry faces. McKinstry is equipped to consult on, design, build, operate, or measure a building at any phase of its lifecycle—hence the motto “For the Life of Your Building.”
In interviewing with Michael Frank, Vice President of Design and Engineering, he confirmed all these benefits, but also emphasized how exceptional he thought McKinstry’s people were—the engineering department in particular. His enthusiasm inspired me to take the leap and find out more for myself!
My career path
Growing up, I always wanted to be an architect. I loved art and design, but with both parents involved in different aspects of construction, I also enjoyed mucking around in the mud on job sites and poring over blueprints. In high school, however, I realized I needed more math and science in my life. Engineering seemed like the perfect merge of the artist and scientist within.
It has been a great fit for me over the years. Early on, I did a lot building envelope consulting that I think really laid the groundwork for good passive and sustainable design. I eventually found myself in a large global consulting firm getting exposure to a full range of projects, from hospitals, to transit hubs, to performing arts centers, to high rise office, to flagship retail. My role evolved from energy analyst, to design engineer, to project manager for multi-discipline engineering design projects.
While I’m incredibly thankful for that experience, I began to feel something was missing. Our scope was often limited to the design and construction phase and we rarely received constructive feedback on our systems once in operation. Given the demand for ever more high-performance buildings, not having the feedback or access to evaluate the true performance of the buildings we had designed seemed like a major disconnect.
My experience at McKinstry
Working at McKinstry for these past few months has been a revelation, and it’s also been a lot of fun. It’s been fantastic to collaborate with our construction and energy teams on projects, and get holistic input on how easy my designs will be to build or operate.
Construction is often criticized as a slow area for innovation, but I’ve seen that the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative mindset is alive and thriving at McKinstry. We’re rapidly innovating as a company and as an engineering team, and we’re not hoarding information or sitting on discoveries but sharing them with the larger community.
We’re also all encouraged to pursue our individual professional interests, and so I find myself surrounded by all types of experts in our field, from published energy analysts, BIM specialists, and certified Passive House consultants.
A team that rises to the challenge
A few weeks ago our team was in the middle of a series of major project deadlines. As usual, they all seemed to fall within a couple days of each other. The team was geared up to work extra hard to ensure everything went off without a hitch.
And then the unthinkable happened: We experienced a major network outage at McKinstry. With only days left to hit these major deadlines, we suddenly did not have access to critical data, calculations, software, or documentation crucial to complete our work.
At first, it was a shock and disorienting to suddenly lose access to the accumulation of work generated over weeks, months, and even years. But then, over the next few days, our team astounded me with their resilience and ingenuity to keep us progressing. They cobbled together what little data was still available locally or in the cloud. They backed everything up to ensure minimal work loss. They continually adjusted to rapidly changing conditions as our IT team worked around the clock to get us back up and running. They developed new and creative ways to work in a non-networked environment.
Eventually we got access back to the network and managed to stitch our new and old work together to make our deadlines, but—with that experience—I began to truly appreciate and share Michael Frank’s admiration and respect for this team.
To them it is more than a job or a project; there is a dedication to supporting each other and delivering on commitments that goes well above and beyond the call of duty. They are a team that has each other’s backs to ensure everyone is successful. They do this while constantly pushing themselves and each other to improve our processes and outcomes for happier clients and a healthier planet.
All that to say: I feel distinctly privileged to work amongst them, and I’m happy I chose McKinstry.