This week we've been celebrating National Engineers Week! Established in 1951, over 70 engineering and educational societies participate each year, along with dozens of corporations. At LaBella, we offer our contributions to the Discover E (National Engineers Week Foundation) mission of:
Celebrating how engineers make a difference in our world
Increasing public dialogue about the need for engineers
Bringing engineering to life for students
Learn more here.
For the past few years we've used Engineers Week as an opportunity to share insights from a few of our diverse group of engineers. This year, in continuation of celebrating our new Powered by Partnership brand, we're presenting some of the internal partnerships that build our engineering team. Each day we've shared thoughts from a senior level engineer, and the young engineer they mentor.
Today, meet Michael Barbasch (left) and Aaron Schauger (right), energy engineers!
What was your education in and how long have you been in this field?
Michael: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from SUNY Buffalo, 15 years in the field.
Aaron: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 8 months in the field after a 3-year internship.
What has been one of your favorite projects and why?
Michael: University Heights Microgrid—it incorporates nearly all of the latest energy industry trends and engineering skill sets.
Aaron: NYSERDA ETAC (Emerging Technology and Accelerated Commercialization) Phase II Study—we’re doing a study validating energy savings from an advanced retrofit rooftop controls system. I like being able to use a variety of skills to take something as simple as a heating/cooling controls system and see how it can allow a facility to reduce their energy consumption and help make the world a cleaner place.
What drew you to this discipline?
Michael: Energy and Commissioning projects offer rewarding problem solving opportunities. Our solutions almost always result in an improved situation for our clients and the environment.
Aaron: I like working on energy projects because of their wide variety and it allows me to learn something new every day.
How has engineering changed throughout your career?
Michael: The energy industry in particular is heavily influenced by external forces. Technology developments, commodity prices, and the political landscape have constantly “moved the goal posts.” As a result, our services have followed suit with more advanced and intricate solutions to keep pace.
How is working at an engineering firm different than you expected?
Aaron: The people are much friendlier than I expected and are always happy to help out if you have any questions.
What do you see in the future of your field?
Michael: Customers are increasingly mindful of the impact their facilities have on the occupants, the environment, and their bottom line. Lately, the source and resiliency of their utilities has come to the forefront. Distributed generation and “smart grid” innovations will persist.
What are some of your career goals?
Aaron: This early in my career, I’m trying to keep an open mind and do not have any specific career goals. I just try to focus on being at my best and learning something new every day.
What is a personal interest that has nothing to do with engineering?
Michael: My family. With two young children, I am interested in whatever they are. Also, I am an avid hockey fan and a middling hockey player. I have been around the sport as long as I can remember.
Aaron: Golf, hockey, and Olympic weightlifting.
What do you like about working for LaBella?
Michael: LaBella offers a small company feel, even though we have hundreds of colleagues willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Aaron: I like the culture and attitude that the company has as a whole and how it allows for a healthy work/life balance.
If not engineering, what career would you choose?
Michael: This is difficult to answer. I have several architects and engineers in my family so it always seemed inevitable. The only thing that comes to mind is a coworker and I joked that we were going to be gold prospectors in the Yukon…. mostly because we were interested in engineering a more efficient process.
Aaron: Pro golfer.
What excites you about working with the next generation of engineers? What advice would you give them?
Michael: Young engineers bring a new perspective to the field. They are unafraid to challenge the status quo. I would advise them to take pride in their work, and complete each task to the best of their ability.
What’s the most important thing your mentor has taught you?
Aaron: Pay attention to the little details and take a step back to think about if things make sense.