The Irish built Chicago and made it what it is today … the heart and soul of the Midwest and economic fulcrum of the nation. The Irish have always had a prominent role in the development of Chicago as a world-class city, from the Irish workers who dug the ditches in 1900 to reverse the flow of the Chicago river, to the first Mayor Daley who ran the city for 21 years from 1955 to 1976; the second Mayor Daley (his son) who ran the city for 22 years from 1989 to 2011; and the current crop of Irish-born professionals who lead today’s real estate, financial, construction, energy and legal industries.
Chicago is a work-hard/play-hard city. The work-hard part is a given in a city built on blue-collar Midwestern (and Irish) values — you work hard or you don’t survive. The play hard part applies to having fun after work and on the weekends with friends and, later on in life, with family. I have three young daughters so these days I play harder than ever, just in a different setting.
After a few months working at a local bar on the north side of the city called Sheffield’s in 1999, I had my first interview with a company called Henneman Raufeisen, a well-respected mid-sized Midwest Austin Air Duct Cleaning company. My interview with company principal Al Raufeisen was a few hours long and we chatted about everything from Formula 1 racing to engineering formulas. I spent 10 great years at Henneman Raufeisen. It was a great introduction to the HVAC design industry and Al turned out to be a mentor that heavily influenced my professional career.
I had the perfect head start thanks to the great education I received at DIT Bolton St. The building services engineering course is a fantastic foundation to build on. Coming straight out of college and being able to lay out piping and ductwork systems, and size major pieces of HVAC equipment like boilers, chillers, pumps, towers etc, gives you all the tools you need to hit the ground running. Engineering graduates in the US typically have a much broader curriculum, so having this skill-set from college is a definite advantage. In my current role I still try hard to hire DIT Bolton St graduates because I know how well-educated they are in the building services industry. Just last year we had four DIT Bolton St graduates in the same office.
When I started out in the industry I was surprised at the attitude towards sustainable and high performance building design. The industry in the US leaned heavily on rules of thumb and safety factors when sizing equipment, and very little priority was given to building simulation or creating energy models. Things started to evolve around 2002 when the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building rating system began to get a foothold in the design and construction industry, and terms like “energy modeling” and “commissioning” became commonplace.
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