Before I jump into what I’ve learned, what I’ve been working on and what my internship experience has been like thus far at McKinstry, I’d like to take a couple minutes to introduce myself. My name is Ivan Cliff, but most everyone knows me as Mac. My parents named me Ivan to keep the name in the family. I was born and raised in a little town called San Anselmo outside of San Francisco. Ever since I could walk, I’ve been riding a bike—at first around the local school yard and eventually out into the mountains.
I continued to race bikes through high school and the beginning of college, until I decided to ride as a hobby, not a sport. Throughout high school, I worked in a bike shop as a mechanic and that—combined with a passion for speed—is where I discovered my engineering intuition. Fast-forward to today and I’m entering my final year of the mechanical engineering program at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.
I first heard about McKinstry from a friend who toured the Spokane office two years ago. I attended an open house at the Spokane office in the fall of 2017, and that boosted my interest in joining the McKinstry team. On May 15 of this year, I was thrilled to start work as a design project engineering intern in McKinstry’s Portland, Oregon office through the B.L.U.E. Program.
Working with talented McKinstry engineers in Portland—Jason Maulin, Philip Alexander, Zin Min Aye, Josh Bolton and Marcus Thomas—has been an absolute pleasure and an excellent introduction into the various types of McKinstry projects. Some of my favorite engineering projects I’ve been a part of are the two projects at Portland’s Fox Tower and our work on Portland’s Historic U.S. National Bank Building.
Before starting at McKinstry, I didn’t have much HVAC design experience—save for the sample problems I worked on in class. The learning curve has been steep, but the Portland team quickly got me up to speed so I could start tackling projects. Specifically, I’ve been responsible for heat load calculations using CHVAC (a software program), duct static pressure calculations, zoning, schedules, producing “as-built” drawings, and modeling in software programs like AutoCAD and Revit.
My favorite part of my work at McKinstry has been modeling duct and plumbing. I’m certain that all my art teachers growing up have been less than impressed with my hand-drawing abilities. Using the computer modeling programs, though, I can express the artistic ability that I struggle to express on paper.
Some of the major lessons I’ve learned from my time at McKinstry are the benefits of a structured approach to design, the importance of maintaining good documentation and how to improve communication between engineers and the field employees who install our systems. These lessons learned will follow me through the rest of my career, so I’m grateful to have joined the McKinstry family.