Talking about best practices for engineering technologists is one thing. Following those practices every day on the job is another. Having a process in place that makes it possible can help, says David Piluski, mechanical engineer and principal at RTM Engineering Consultants. In this episode of the Beyond Engineering podcast, Dave shares five key questions the consultants at RTM ask themselves and their clients before starting a project as a way to ensure they hold themselves to the highest standards.
Beyond Engineering producer, Bob Dirkes, asks Dave to share this process with us. Here is an edited transcript of their conversation:
Bob Dirkes: You’ve identified five questions that engineering technologists ask as they approach an engagement. Let’s start with the first: What is the best way to approach a project, for the client, RTM and the people affected by it? What does that mean?
Dave Piluski: We come to the table asking questions to gauge the client’s needs, wants and expectations. Our first job is to compile this information and offer broad solutions which address those items. Then, we focus on the details. There’s always a need to assess the requirements and wants of a project with available budget, energy efficiency and building code compliance. We learn about each project as we engage, and then apply our skills and passion for engineering technologies as the vision develops.
Bob: Secondly, what problems will RTM solve for the people impacted by a project? How do you answer that question?
Dave: This question naturally comes next because engineering is essentially problem-solving. Some people may think of this negatively because of the word “problem.” But for an engineering technologist, problem-solving is the act of applying our engineering skills and experience to achieve the best and most efficient outcome in any situation. Because we have a broad range of experience, we can adapt our skillset to something completely unique, or alternatively to something similar we’ve done in the past.
Bob: The third question is: What makes this project uniquely challenging? And what other RTM projects and teammates can lend insight? This seems like a natural extension of what we just discussed. Am I correct?
Dave: Yes, you are. We’re a national firm with a local focus. We’re able to deploy our expertise via our network of subject matter experts. These people are a team of senior engineers who have extensive experience in a particular specialty. They are not only at the ready to design and guide the scope of a project, but they have also stepped up to offer training and mentoring to our younger engineers in these specific areas. This helps with our goal of elevating the team and engaging everyone in a pattern of growth and skill development.
Bob: Question number four is: How will RTM’s contributions to this project make conditions better for the people impacted by it? Once again, I’m hearing that theme of people and not just machines and processes.
Dave: Absolutely. When we’re focused on outcomes and meeting expectations, we close the circle of the project from inception to completion. All the meetings and discussions leading up to the final commissioning of a project are meaningless if the initial goals and objectives are lost in the process. Ultimately, the smooth functionality and efficiency of the built environment encompasses the shared goals of building owners, occupants, designers – and really society as a whole. Most of these buildings will outlive those who designed them. It’s our goal to design in a sustainable way.
Bob: The fifth and final question in your process is: How will we work together inside and outside of RTM to bring out the very best in every member of the team? This sounds like you’re talking about going beyond just the circle of people within your organization. Is that the right idea?
Dave: Yes, our structure and network of subject matter experts form the backbone of our knowledge base and mentoring philosophy. Our focus is to elevate our staff via this structure and to direct service not only to the client, but also to our internal team. The growth and development of each RTM team member – as an engineer and a technologist – will make our firm stronger and ensure successful outcomes for our clients.
Bob: After going through that process, I’m curious – is this the typical type of thinking in technical fields like yours?
Dave: It should be. All technical fields share a goal of advancing our technology and using all available tools for a successful outcome. I think the difference at RTM is that we are very deliberate about this process, and we make it the focus of our daily operations. For example, I personally collaborate with our new engineers and experienced engineers who are joining the team to coach them on our team and client-focused philosophy. If we’re not taking care of ourselves as a team, we stand no chance of taking care of our clients.
Listen to this entire conversation and find future podcasts here.
Beyond Engineering is a podcast from RTM Engineering Consultants, a MEP and Civil engineering firm that goes beyond a typical consulting role. Listen as RTM technologists share stories about innovative design, collaborative development and exacting execution that help buildings, businesses and the people working inside them, work better.
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