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Beyond the Classroom Video Series: Finding Longevity in Your Career

In this month’s Beyond the Classroom, meet Sarabeth Gandara, a Preconstruction Engineer at U.S. Engineering. Gandara is a past MCAA Student Chapter member and an Architectural Engineering graduate from Milwaukee School of Engineering. In the video segment, Gandara talks about her experiences with MCAA and how the mechanical contracting industry is the perfect mix of technical and personal relationships. Sarabeth shares the importance of looking for a position with a company that has viable longevity.

Gandara is currently a member of the MCAA Career Development Committee, which is made up of member contractors, whose aim is to provide education and resources to student chapter members. The committee’s goal is to connect students with members by creating networking and employment opportunities while ultimately cultivating the next generation of industry leaders in mechanical contracting.

Upcoming Beyond the Classroom videos will showcase how MCAA student chapter members and MCAA members alike are benefiting from the program. They will also share the opportunities available to students who choose careers in the mechanical industry.

GreatFutures Virtual Education Fall Program Coming Soon

In light of COVID-19-related restrictions and with the safety of our members and students in mind, MCAA has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s in-person GreatFutures Forum, scheduled for October 1–3 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

To continue providing the top-of-the-line education that MCAA is known for, our Career Development Committee has come together to develop the GreatFutures Virtual Education Fall Program! The program is aimed to help give the next generation of mechanical contracting leaders a deeper understanding of the industry and the ins and outs of creating a construction bid. The program will start September 15 and continue through November 16, 2020.

Included in this program will be the annual MCAA Student Chapter Competition, which will be released virtually to student chapters this September. The competition gives students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom by creating a bid for a real-life mechanical construction project.

The GreatFutures education program will navigate students through the competition project with online instructional sessions focused on components of a real-world contracting bid. MCAA will be launching live sessions each week, available to all students, faculty advisors and MCAA members.  The topics of the sessions include estimating, scheduling, construction technology, safety and service, all taught by industry leaders.

Stay tuned for schedule and registration information in the coming weeks!

Please contact Megan Walsh if you have questions about the GreatFutures Virtual Education program or any of our student activities.

MCA of Chicago Hosts Summer Interns

The mechanical contracting industry provides many career paths, and that includes the opportunity to work for an MCA local affiliated association. This summer, MCA of Chicago has two interns, Judie Prophete and Ervin Prophete. They are learning about how an association is managed and how the MCA of Chicago provides resources and education to its members.

MCA of Chicago Director of Communications Abby Baughan said, “It’s been great having Judie and Ervin working with us this summer. They’re bright, hard-working and make great additions to our team. When I was in college, I knew very little about association work and mechanical contracting. Like most people, I sort of fell into it. I think it’s great that, as college students, Judie and Ervin are being introduced to this world filled with so much opportunity. I hope this internship opens their eyes to all of the possible career paths that are available to them.”

Meet Judie Prophete

Judie is an incoming senior at DePaul University, studying accounting and business management.

“As the accounting intern and administrative assistant for the MCA of Chicago, I spend the majority of my time helping our Director of Finance, Susan Rocque, with various tasks and projects. The other part of my time is spent doing administrative work around the office and helping where I am needed. I am learning a lot about accounting and finance, gaining a lot of new experience and learning a lot about what it is like to work in an office setting.”

During her internship, Judie hopes to continue learning more about the professional workplace and about programs and tools that are specific to her field of study. She also hopes to gain more confidence so she is prepared to enter the business world.

“From what I have seen in the month that I have been interning here, there are a lot of aspects of the professional workplace that school cannot prepare you for. The only way to truly learn these things and succeed is to actually be put in those situations and just do the best you can with what you have. I am fortunate enough to be learning those things surrounded by welcoming, forgiving and patient co-workers in a friendly and positive work environment.”

Meet Ervin Prophete

Ervin Prophete is a senior at DePaul University in Chicago, studying public relations and advertising.

Ervin is a marketing intern. His responsibilities include creating and posting graphics on social media, helping Director of Communications Abby Baughan with compiling the weekly emails, scheduling events on the MCA of Chicago Facebook page and updating the MCA website with future events and classes.

Ervin talked about what he hopes to get out of this internship. “I have learned a lot so far in this internship and feel that every day I step in the office is a day I gain more knowledge about the marketing world. I am hoping to just learn as much as I can and become proficient in the tools I have been introduced to in my time here so far. By the end, I would like to be able to use the knowledge I will have gained to do some freelance work while I finish school.”

MCA of Chicago Career Development

MCA of Chicago members are also focused on getting talented students into the mechanical contracting industry, even if they do not follow the typical academic path.

Brandon Hubner of Premier Mechanical, Inc., shared his company’s unique insight about hiring the right talent:

“The way the Premier has looked at hiring is that a person’s major focus of study or background is less important than the skills that they bring to the table and how well they can help round out our team and add value with other talents that they have. Construction, and mechanical contracting even more so, is a unique industry and every system we install is different. Rarely are two buildings built identically, or with the same team of general contractors and subcontractors. If systems and teams are rarely the same, then why always hire from within the same field of study? In our experience, we can better tackle unique projects with unique individuals. Given the number of variables there are to construction, we would be passing over a lot of really good candidates if we focused just on construction management and mechanical engineering majors.”

McElroy’s Inc. Intern Receives MCAA Internship Grant

McElroy’s Inc., an MCA of Kansas City member, presented Parker Beal with an MCAA Internship Grant at the start of his 2020 summer internship. The grant is funded by the John R. Gentille Foundation. Parker said, “This grant will help me continue to fund my college degree and expenses. I see this not only as a great learning opportunity, but also as a motivation to tell other interns in the future about what I have learned and experienced in the mechanical industry.”

This is Parker’s third consecutive internship with McElroy’s Inc. The Architectural Engineering student has a particular interest in MEP. After he graduates from the University of Kansas in the spring of 2022, he intends to pursue a master’s degree in Business Administration.

This summer, Parker is using BIM software and other programs to aid in design and load calculations for the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems in both commercial and industrial buildings. He will be shadowing Vice President Wade Jueneman, head of commercial construction for McElroy’s Inc.

“McElroy’s has given me valuable opportunities to help further my understanding and knowledge in the mechanical industry,” Parker said of his experiences. “I’m looking forward to developing my skills to transform ideas into design solutions and then see my work in action.”

About the MCAA Internship Grants

Having MCAA interns working at member companies is a win-win for the mechanical contracting industry. Employers get top talent and build a pipeline of future employees. Students gain experience, create connections, develop skills and further their interest in mechanical contracting. In paying the student instead of the employer, MCAA’s goal is to increase the overall number of interns and drive the overall number of talented employees accepting full-time positions with MCAA members after graduation.

How the Grant Application Process Works

The MCAA member company will first ensure a prospective intern is in good standing at an accredited two- or four-year college, university or technical school. While MCAA encourages its members to give priority to students from the MCAA Student Chapter Program, this is not a requirement to receive a grant.

Each MCAA member company can submit up to two internship grant applications per year. Once an application is reviewed and accepted, MCAA will send a $500 gift card to the member company so it can present the Gift Card to the student at the start of their internship.

MCAA will follow-up with each company and intern to ensure the process and overall internship was successful.

Start Your Search for Top Talent Today

MCAAGreatFutures.org gives members access to student profiles and resumes. The profiles are searchable by university, desired location, and even a specific skill set, like BIM or AutoCAD. A keyword filter allows users to zero in on students who fit the bill.

Not finding a match? Try reaching out to our 60 MCAA Student Chapters. The chapter advisors are a great resource to help find the right person. And, MCAA members have exclusive access to post job openings on our job board.

Help build our industry’s GreatFuture – apply for a grant!

U.S. Engineering Intern Gains Valuable Experience Virtually

The ever evolving COVID-19 restrictions have forced MCAA member companies to adapt to new normals. MCAA member, U.S. Engineering (USE), is among them. The company has transitioned their summer internship program to a virtual platform and has been quick to adapt to online engagement in order to assure the internship experience is valuable for this summer’s 24 interns.

Among those interns is Kenny Griffin, Iowa State University MCAA Student Chapter member.

About Kenny

Kenny Griffin is an incoming Senior at Iowa State University and a member of the university’s MCAA Student Chapter. He is studying Construction Engineering with a mechanical emphasis.

In June Kenny began his internship with U.S. Engineering’s Rocky Mountain division and has been assigned to a Project Manager team comprised of two PMs and two Senior PMs. He has had the opportunity to perform different tasks, ranging from projections, O&M’s, updating equipment logs and reviewing RFI’s and submittals.

Kenny says, “We are currently tasked with the construction of the mechanical systems of a high technology facility for a confidential client. This is an expansion of an existing facility, housing its own central utility plans as well as various specialty testing labs and clean rooms.”

MCAA Student Chapter Experience

Kenny found his internship opportunity at the 2019 MCAA Great Futures Forum networking event in Washington, DC, where he was introduced to Sarabeth Gandara, U.S. Engineering Project Engineer.

“I later caught up with Sarabeth and Desiree Sharp (from the Kansas City office) at the Friday morning job fair where I was able to learn about USE, their office locations and the types of work USE performs. After the GreatFutures Forum concluded, I was contacted by Sarabeth for an interview and the rest is history.”

Kenny currently serves as his MCAA Student Chapter’s Vice President and says, “I have endless great things to say about the experiences you gain from being part of MCAA. It has opened countless doors of opportunity to meet peers from other programs across the country, as well as gain exposure to companies that do not frequent job fairs near Iowa State University.”

Start Your Search for Top Talent Today

Find student chapter members like Kenny by visiting MCAAGreatFutures.org, where members have access to student profiles and resumes. The profiles are searchable by university, desired location, and even a specific skill set, like BIM or AutoCAD. A keyword filter allows users to zero in on students who fit the bill.

Beyond the Classroom: Let’s Get Down to Business

In this month’s Beyond the Classroom, meet University of Nebraska senior, Ali Brown. She is an MCAA Student Chapter member and current intern for The Waldinger Corporation. Ali is the 2020 Women in the Mechanical Industry – Ferguson Scholarship recipient. You can read Ali’s profile HERE.

Ali is earning her degree in Business Administration & Human Resources. In this video, Ali shares her perspective on entering the mechanical contracting industry and emphasizes the importance of business and human resources.

Upcoming Beyond the Classroom videos will showcase how MCAA student chapter members and MCAA members alike are benefiting from the program. They will also share the opportunities available to students who choose careers in the mechanical industry.

Marelich Mechanical Company, Inc. Offers Career Opportunities for Chico State Student Chapter Members

Marelich Mechanical Company, Inc. employs summer interns and new-hire project engineers from Northern California MCA student chapter programs. Chad Johnston, VP of Operations said, “Even with the circumstances we were still able to bring aboard seven summer intern and new-hire project engineers. We provide them a job opportunity, and most importantly give them experience in the plumbing and mechanical sector of the construction industry.”

Chad Johnston shares an overview of Marelich Mechanical’s onboarding process for interns and full-time hires:

New hires get the chance to spend a day in the main office meeting different department staff: Human Resources, IT, Safety, Purchasing, Estimating, Detailing, Design and Operations.  The following days are typically spent riding around with the plumbing, piping, and sheet metal superintendents walking through various projects and fabrication shops to experience all aspects of Marelich operations beyond their specific project assignment.

This summer, due to the impacts of COVID-19, the onboarding process was drastically modified. All new hires were brought into a mostly vacant office, meeting only a few essential individuals allowed in the office, with face masks used and social distancing maintained. No welcome aboard handshakes, no superintendent ride-along, no touring of multiple jobsites, and no group Marelich camping and rafting trip that have been done in past years.  

Chad says, “Yes, things are different this year. For any new hire to any company right now, the empty offices, teams working remotely, and the mandated social distancing makes our organizations feel different than they did just a few months ago. Fortunately, we were able to continue our process of giving students of our Nor Cal MCA Student Chapters schools the opportunity for a career and experience in the industry.”

Below are just a few of the tasks interns and new-hires will be performing this summer:

  • Reading and understanding project plans and specifications
  • Writing, submitting, tracking, and resolving RFI’s 
  • Shop drawing submittals and tracking
  • Processing equipment and material submittals and structural anchorage packages       
  • Managing equipment and material procurement and their releases to meet the project schedule
  • Attending, documenting, and follow up for on-site meetings
  • Developing labor loaded schedules; Tracking installed quantities and labor tracking 
  • Estimating, tracking and managing change orders 
  • Coordinating design changes with subcontractors & vendors 
  • QA/QC process follow-up

Chico State Interns

Marelich currently has three MCAA Student Chapter members of California State University, Chico interning this summer including, mechanical engineering major, Jimmie Whitton and construction management majors, Erich Anderson and Wyatt Hattich.

Wyatt Hattich is the retuning MCAA Student Chapter Vice President at Chico State. This summer, Wyatt is working on the HVAC in a luxury 19-story apartment building, Trinity Phase IV, in San Francisco. The largest Whole Foods in San Francisco is being built in the basement below the lobby of the apartments. Below the Whole Foods are five-floors of parking that will connect to the Trinity Phase III building next door.

Wyatt reflects on his experience so far as an intern, “What I really like about Marelich is that they all have made me feel very welcome in their company. They are all so open to help me succeed and learn new things about the mechanical industry. I am very grateful that Marelich allowed me to intern this summer and have given me such a positive experience.”

Full-time Chico State Hire

Ryan Smith graduated Chico State May 2020 with a Construction Management degree and just started full-time as a Project Manager with Marelich.

He is helping to manage the pipe fitters and sheet metal unions, focusing on HVAC work. During his experiences so far, Ryan has learned, “what truly make a great project manager is how you fix your mistakes when they arise.”

His current project is a San Francisco high end hotel and residential condo project. There are over 500 units between the hotel and condos, each has a fan coil unit which is connected to a VRF, and over five miles of refrigerant line.

“Since it is San Francisco we get to use cool tools like zoom lock which is like pro press. I process the submittals, RFI’s, IOM’s, and fix problems on the daily basis. San Francisco is a high stress environment but has some of the smartest individuals I have ever worked with. I thank MCAA for giving me such a great opportunity and for connecting me with such a great employer, Marelich Mechanical. Thank you for all you have done and for pointing me in the right direction.”

Start Your Search for Top Talent Today

Find student chapter members like Wyatt and Ryan by visiting MCAAGreatFutures.org, where members have access to student profiles and resumes. The profiles are searchable by university, desired location, and even a specific skill set, like BIM or AutoCAD. A keyword filter allows users to zero in on students who fit the bill.

Intern Builds Skills & Relationships at The Waldinger Corporation

Masen Dinklage, a member of the MCAA Student Chapter at the University of Nebraska, is spending his third consecutive summer as a Project Management intern with The Waldinger Corporation. Through a variety of activities, he is gaining industry knowledge and building relationships that will help him succeed in his great future.

During his internship, Masen is learning about the process of submittals, RFIs, purchasing, commissioning and scheduling. “I have learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes over the course of a construction project,” he said.

“I have learned during my internship that it is important to develop relationships with co-workers, vendors and contractors,” he said, adding “These relationships can help build technical knowledge, create a more open means of communication and provide an overall better environment for work.”

MCAA Student Chapter Experience

Masen, a Mechanical Engineering major, plans to graduate in December 2021. He has been a member of his MCAA Student Chapter, which is sponsored by the MCA of Omaha, Inc., since January 2018.

“The MCA-Omaha student chapter has provided excellent resources to help me grow and cultivate my leadership, communication and organization skills. The chapter has helped me develop valuable relationships with industry professionals, some of such relationships helping me earn my internship.”

Masen is building on those relationships by serving as this year’s fundraising chair for the MCA of Omaha, Inc. Wine Tasting Event, which is scheduled for November. His role involves collaborating with the MCA of Omaha, Inc. team to coordinate the event.

“I look forward to building a career in this industry and am excited to build relationships and also my technical knowledge in mechanical systems,” he said.

Start Your Search for Top Talent Today

Find student chapter members like Masen by visiting MCAAGreatFutures.org, where members have access to student profiles and resumes. The profiles are searchable by university, desired location, and even a specific skill set, like BIM or AutoCAD. A keyword filter allows users to zero in on students who fit the bill.

Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC Internships Pave the Way to Full-time Careers

Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC, internships prepare students for careers in the construction industry. That guidance has paid off for both the company and three recent graduates who accepted full-time positions within the Arden Building Companies family of businesses. Congratulations to Natalie Mansson, Andrew Basile and Alex Appolonia on finding their great futures with Arden.

About Natalie

Natalie Mansson was hired in May 2020 as Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC’s newest Project Engineer. She interned for the company last winter.

She has had an interest in construction from an early age. “I knew construction would be a great career path for me when my family bought an old Cape house that needed a major renovation,” she said. “I would always ask the contractor, plumber, and electrician questions about their work and the different systems used.”

A recent graduate of Roger Williams University, Natalie studied Construction Management (CM). She grew to love the construction industry more during her time in school, so she decided to take another year to receive her master’s degree in CM.

“My experience at Arden so far has been incredible. I have been working in the estimating department, learning the different software the estimators use and completing various takeoffs. I have also worked with project managers, attended an on-site meeting, and did a site walk-through to see the incredible work Arden is doing.”

About Andrew

Andrew Basile was hired this May as a Controls Engineer with Earthwise Energy Technologies. Andrew is a graduate of Western New England University where he studied Mechanical Engineering.

“I chose mechanical engineering as my field of study because of my love to learn about the inner workings of everyday objects and systems and to be able to use that information, along with some creativity, to create a useful end product,” he said. “For my future in this field, I hope to find a specific application that I am passionate about so I can be invested in my projects and produce results I am proud of.”

Andrew, who interned for Arden during the past two summers recalls his internship experience fondly:

“My experience at Arden has been very informative, with the possibilities for work with a mechanical engineering degree, and the amount of information I can still learn. Working with Paul Carter, General Manager of Earthwise Energy Technologies has shown me the more technical, controls side of HVAC, while working with Tim Elliott, Director of Design & Engineering at Arden Engineering Constructors gave me a more physical understanding of the systems. With the combination of both experiences, I have obtained a more complete understanding of HVAC systems and every step taken to create a functioning system.”

About Alex

Alex Appolonia was recently hired as a Project Engineer on the Unique Metal Works, LLC team.

A University of Rhode Island (URI) graduate, Alex was a Civil Engineering major when he interned with Arden last winter. He worked under Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC Project Manager Rob Cote, and enjoyed on-site visits to the new URI College of Engineering building.

Alex Appolonia determines what size fan cover is needed for an exhaust fan at the Infinity Meat Solutions project.

He says, “I have been able to experience the precise detail and coordination it takes to complete a project of substantial caliber. My time here at Arden has given me hands-on experience in the field and shown me that to be a successful project manager or engineer one must be punctual, concise and transparent when coordinating with all the other trades from start to finish of every project.”

Alex is currently working on the Infinity Meat Solutions project, a new $100M, 200,000 sq. ft. meat-packaging facility in North Kingstown, RI. This is a joint project for Unique Metal Works, LLC, Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC, and Earthwise Energy Technologies.

MCAA Mourns the Passing of Past President Robert T. Armistead, P.E.

MCAA is saddened by the loss of Robert T. Armistead, P.E., who served as our President in 2010. He died peacefully at his home on June 16, 2020, surrounded by his loving family. Our thoughts are with Susan, Robert, Kane, Bryan and the extended Armistead family during this difficult time. “Bob truly loved the MCAA and his time with everyone involved in the organization. He will be greatly missed,” said Timothy J. Brink, MCAA’s Chief Executive Officer.  

In an announcement to MCA of New Jersey, Inc. members, Executive Director Marty Drobny said, “We will miss our friend much. His positive impact within the industry will live on forever.” 

Bob was President of Armistead Mechanical, Inc., a fourth-generation mechanical contracting and engineering firm that predominantly serves the New Jersey and New York Hudson Valley areas. The company specializes in commercial and industrial plumbing, heating, air conditioning and process piping. Raised in the family business, Bob worked there over summers and school breaks, learned the trade in the field and later worked with the estimators and project managers in the office.  

After college and Navy service, Bob returned to the family business, where under his leadership, Armistead Mechanical developed an impressive project portfolio and a staff that is known for excellent customer service. 

When Bob brought his energetic style and understanding of the details of the industry to MCAA, his strong belief in educating students led to an invitation to serve on the MCAA Career Development Committee, where he tirelessly volunteered his time to aid in the development of programs and services for our industry’s future leaders.  In fact, Bob was one of the committee’s longest serving members, acting as a judge during the final round of the annual Student Chapter Competition at many of our annual conventions, and helping to set the standard for the dynamic program it has become today. 

A natural off-shoot of his service on the Career Development Committee, Bob’s passion for perpetuating the flow of talent into the industry also extended to his position on the National Board of the ACE Mentor Program that educates and mentors high school students about careers in the architecture, construction—including the building trades, and engineering.  He also served the Mechanical Contracting Education & Research Foundation, now the John R. Gentille Foundation, which funds many of MCAA’s student chapter activities. He also served on the foundation’s Board of Trustees as well as on the MCAA Technology Committee. 

On a personal note, Bob was blessed with a beautiful wife of over 50 years, Susan, and three sons, Robert, Kane, and Bryan, who work in the family business.  In his spare time, Bob served on the Orange County Industrial Development Agency and was active with the Boy Scouts, winning the Orange County Boy Scouts’ Distinguished Citizen Award in October of 2009. 

Due to the current national health crisis and continuing restrictions, funeral services and interment will take place privately, and a memorial event celebrating Robert’s life will be planned for a later date. 

Friends are encouraged to share stories, photos, and memories of him with the family by sending letters to: The Armisteads at 6 Hilltop Drive in Goshen, NY 10924. 

In lieu of sending flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to the following organizations: