Treat yourself to training

This year, build a career habit to invest in sharpening your skills.

03/16/2011


Do you remember how much money you spent on your college education? You likely spent tens of thousands of dollars to learn the fundamentals that, in the end, probably taught you more about how to think than how to design a system or manage a team, project, or business.

Now, how much have you spent on training? I’m talking about good training—the kind that builds retention because you had to invest time in study, homework, or realistic projects.

Most licensed engineers have to obtain 15 hours per year in professional development hours (PDHs). That’s not a lot, and many engineers pick away at their requirements by attending one-hour Webcasts and lunch-and-learns. These are perfectly valid ways to stay on top of emerging issues, changes to codes and standards, and new technologies and products.

Other opportunities for continuing education are conference sessions. Again, these generally impart knowledge.

What I’m recommending is that you invest in training that helps you develop skills. Given where the market is and where it’s headed, here are four recommendations on what might help engineers today.

1. Economics: How to perform a variety of economic analyses on investments for making building systems more energy efficient. Engineers most often calculate payback periods; however, owners might make decisions based on return on investment (ROI), internal rate of return (IRR), net present value (NPV), or some other economic parameter. The better you can translate system performance into economic performance, the more you’ll sell better-performing systems.

2. Controls: How to design and specify controls for building systems. From laying out elegant and effective sequences of operation to minding the details for integration and interoperability, engineers generally need more training on controls. Most of the “movements” impacting building design and operations are putting enormous pressure on controls, including smart grid, energy efficiency, IAQ, measurement and verification, and monitoring-based commissioning.

3. Commissioning existing buildings: Retrocommissioning and monitoring-based commissioning are where a lot of energy services are going. Trane, Honeywell, Schneider Electric, Johnson Controls, and Siemens, which have traditionally been active in performance-based contracting, have been steadily expanding into existing-building commissioning. Because of the new-construction recession, so are many engineering firms. Look at recommendation No. 2 and do the math.

4. Communications. Whether English is your first language, you can use some training on technical writing, public speaking, and situational diplomacy (conflict management, etiquette, leadership, etc.). I’ve been a professional communicator in the buildings industry for more than 15 years and I need training, too. Just because you can form words with your mouth or keyboard doesn’t mean they’re the right words at the right time in the right way. Polishing your communications skills is probably the most cost-effective training investment you’ll ever make.

As for how to find good training, here are a few suggestions. First, look for training programs that include practice. For technical training, such as on commissioning and controls, you’ll want hands-on, in-the-field programs, or your retention will falter on the job. For communications, there are a lot of opportunities at colleges and seminars. The key advice is that you may want to build a relationship with someone who can coach you when you need it—to review a report or article, role-play an interview, or preview a presentation. The coach could be a paid professional, a mentor, or a colleague.

So treat yourself to training this year. You’ll not only acquire the PDHs, you’ll develop skills that will advance your career and your business.

Ivanovich is the president of The Ivanovich Group LLC, which provides research, analysis, and consulting services to the buildings industry. Read his blog at http://theivanovichreport.wordpress.com.



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Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
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John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
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System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
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Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
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This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
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This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
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The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers.
System Integrator Giants
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
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This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
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Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
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September 2018
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August 2018
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Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
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Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
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Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, progressive cavity pumps
John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
Doug Baker
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
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