Category: Women in the Mechanical Industry

MCAA’s WiMI Mentor/Mentee Program Continues to Go Strong – Introducing Kathy and Paige!

Paige Taylor has been a Project Engineer at MMC Contractors in Des Moines, IA for the past two and a half years and was formerly a member of the Iowa State Student Chapter. While Paige has always felt very supported in her career and came into this program with goals already set, she’s found it beneficial to have Kathy to bounce ideas and goals off of, as well as  learn about her experiences in the industry .

Kathy McCauley ­­is President of McCauley Mechanical Construction Inc. in Bridgeview, IL, a member of the MCAA Board of Directors and also serves  on the  WiMI Committee. She has been in the industry for 36 years and 29 years with MCA of Chicago. In 2004, Kathy was elected  President of MCA of Chicago. That marked her as the 4th generation in her family to take on that role and the first female president. Kathy shared that yes she did wear a pink suit coat to the inauguration!  Kathy­ was inspired to help create this WiMI mentor/mentee program as an opportunity to give back due to a lack of such program when she came up in the industry.

Kathy and Paige  started their relationship  with phone calls every three weeks. Kathy shared; ‘I loved the momentum we had going before the world turned upside down”. Like many of the pairs, Kathy and Paige were planning on meeting in person in 2020 but both planned trips were cancelled due to the pandemic. They are looking forward to getting that opportunity again in 2021 and plan to continue the mentorship beyond the initial six month commitment. Both agree that they’d love to see more opportunities to be able to network with other mentor/mentee pairs which has been a challenge.

Paige shared that even though there are so many women she looks up to in her own company being a part of WiMI has been a nice opportunity to have outside options for advice. She’s always on the lookout for the chance to connect with women her own age and to learn from them first-hand. The pair loves sharing interesting reads, opportunities or resources to check out. Kathy shared the Brilliant Balance podcast and invitations to virtual professional development seminars through the WiMi group in Chicago and Paige recommended the book How Women Rise and brought up the twelve habits for discussion. Paige has been inspired by Kathy’s dedication to the industry through her teaching and her involvement in not only MCAA but other leadership organizations as well.

For Kathy, this program has been a reminder to get out of her world and remember what it’s like to be new in the industry. “It’s hard for me to remember what is was like when I started.” Although things have come a long way since she entered the industry, there’s still room for growth and improvement.

When asked what her best piece of advice for Paige and all other young females in this industry at this time, Kathy replied; “Listen to everything that anyone wants to teach you. And don’t take anything too seriously! You need a sense of humor to get through this industry.”

For more information visit the Women in the Mechanical Industry Initiative Page.

MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program Has Kicked Off!

MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program has kicked off! Each of the 17 presentations is meant to help students navigate the proposal and bid process for the annual MCAA Student Chapter Competition project.  

Did we mention registration is free and you only have to register once for ALL of the presentations!

Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email with the MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program website login instructions. This website includes:

  • All virtual program details;
  • Presentation descriptions;
  • Speaker overviews; and 
  • A full agenda with links to join the live sessions!

We encourage you to attend as many presentations live to interact with fellow students and engage with the presenters in the presentation Q&A. If you are unable to attend any of the sessions live, don’t you worry, the recorded presentations will be posted on MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program website AFTER the live session.

MCAA is sending a weekly Monday reminder email to registered attendees, highlighting the presentations for that week. Don’t forget to add them to your calendar!

MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program is sponsored by

REGISTER NOW

Meet our WiMI Mentors/Mentees

MCAA’s WiMI Committee continued conversations this month with mentees and mentors participating in the WiMI Mentor Program. We are excited to introduce Ali and Wendy!

Ali Brown, a Senior Human Resources Major at The University of Nebraska, joined this program in hopes of meeting an industry professional that could share her journey and experience and help guide her on her newfound path. Ali has changed her major three times throughout her time at U of NE, starting as an architectural engineer major, switching to study construction management, and then recently transitioning to focus on HR. Ali was pleasantly surprised to be paired with Wendy, someone who is doing exactly what, she recently discovered, she would like to pursue in the future.

Wendy Glauber, has years of experience in human resources and compliance management, and is currently the General Counsel & Human Resources Director at John W. Danforth Company in Tonawanda, NY, where she has worked for the past three years and also serves on the WiMI Committee. Wendy has made it part of her mentoring mission to connect Ali with other female HR professionals in the industry, noting it is imperative that women have a supportive professional network.

Ali is grateful for the connections she has been able to make through this program, and for the continual encouragement she has received. Wendy has introduced Ali to other HR professionals to learn more about the field and has invited Ali to virtually shadow Wendy and Danforth’s HR Manager so that Ali can be exposed to the various facets of HR.  Ali is excited about the opportunity to observe what she has learned in school and see it put into action.

Wendy has also inspired Ali in a number of other ways. At last year’s WiMI Committee meeting, Wendy first heard about Women in Construction Week, which occurs every March. After learning about this recognition week, Wendy felt compelled to celebrate the women of Danforth.  She and her team planned a luncheon for all the women within the John W. Danforth Company team – both in the office and in the field. A prominent woman from their community, whose company is valued partner and customer of Danforth, spoke at the lunch and shared insights about being a women in a male dominated industry.  This was the first time the women of Danforth had celebrated together and they were incredibly grateful for this opportunity to connect. Wendy says many of them are still talking about it and continue to thank Danforth  for hosting. This is an event Danforth  plans to host every March in hopes that by sharing exciting ideas like this with Ali, Ali will implement and host her own similar events one day!

Ali and Wendy were looking forward to meeting in person at MCAA’s Convention in Maui this past March, and then reunite at MCAA’s WiMI Conference in June. Unfortunately, the pandemic altered those plans, but this has not stopped them from communicating, collaborating and continuing their monthly calls and catch-ups. In fact, when asked if they see this partnership extending beyond the six month commitment, they both said; “Absolutely!”

Together they’ve established goals for Ali that extend into the next school year. Ali is looking forward to attending job fairs this fall and is happy to have Wendy by her side to help her prepare her resume, practice interview questions, and just provide encouragement. All things to set Ali up for success!

For more information visit the Women in the Mechanical Industry Initiative Page.

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.”

Meet our WiMI Mentors/Mentees

 MCAA’s WiMI Committee recently launched a Mentor Program. Mentors and mentees signed-up to be a part of this program in hopes of gaining new perspectives on the industry, building connections, developing a support network, and more. Committee members recently took some time to speak with mentees and mentors participating in the program to find out how things are going. Meet our first pair, Hannah and Kristin! 

Hannah Leslie, an Assistant Project Manager at The Brandt Companies in Carrollton, Texas enrolled in the program as a mentee, hoping to be paired with a mentor who could share the do’s and don’ts of business, tips and tricks to success in the industry, and overall life advice. Little did Hannah know she would be paired with her perfect match! 

Kristin Blundell, a Senior Preconstruction Manager at U.S. Engineering in Westminster, Colorado was recommended to be a mentor in this program from a fellow colleague, a young Preconstruction Engineer who had previously been mentored by Kristin herself. Kristin, who has always taken young professionals under her wing, has proven to be the ideal mentor. 

Hannah and Kristin first connected at the beginning of this year. Their bond formed very naturally during their first phone call. Hannah had entered this program with a small handful of personal and professional goals she hoped her mentor would guide her in working towards. Through open conversations, Kristin helped Hannah expand her goals and identify her strengths to be successful. Also, from the very beginning, Kristin has reminded Hannah of valuable life lessons – stay true to herself, believe in hard work, and believe in herself. 

Kristin’s advice may seem simple, but it has been incredibly empowering for Hannah. Hannah, who is one of two females comprising a close-knit team of 10 individuals in her job site office, has recognized qualities in herself during the course of the mentorship that she now feels empowered to share with the team. Hannah has learned from Kristin to take pride in being a contributing female on the team. 

While Hannah and Kristin have a relaxed approach to their communication structure, they make sure to have a phone conversation at least once a month, every month. They also take comfort in just knowing the other is there for them anytime. An unexpected benefit the current pandemic has provided for both, is knowing they have a contact in a different part of the country to talk through how their respective companies have worked through these challenging times and implemented new work practices. 

With several hundred miles between them, with Hannah in Texas and Kristin in Colorado, they are bummed they cannot meet for an occasional cup of coffee or happy hour drink. However, they do look forward to the day they can meet in person, hopefully at MCAA’s WiMI Conference next June, if not sooner! 

For more information visit the Women in the Mechanical Industry Initiative Page.

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.

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.

Murphy Company Interns Get Project Experience on Their College Campus

Murphy Company interns Jacob Reed and Morgan Hanley have been onsite project engineering interns for the University of Missouri-Columbia’s NextGen Precision Health Institute. The opportunity has given them a first-hand look at what it takes to build a job on their college campus. 

About the Project

The company continues its work on the facility which supports a systemwide precision health initiative aimed at harnessing and supporting the research activities of its four universities and health system. The building will include lab space for current and new faculty, graduate students, clinicians and have collaborative spaces for work with industry partners.

The facility is the largest single project that the University of Missouri has ever undertaken. The project consists of a new 265,000 sq. ft. six story facility.

The Murphy Company team, in collaboration with their general contractor and trade partners, was hired on in a design-assist capacity completed the following extensive BIM and fabrication on this past year:

  • Identified and corrected 1,134 BIM clashes prior to installation
  • Fabricated 121,000 lbs. of ductwork and 65,000 lbs. of mechanical piping and racks
  • Installed the following:
    • 7,600 Linear Feet (LF) of underground piping
    • 22,500 MEP Trimble points based on BIM
    • 41,700 LF of above ground plumbing and piping
    • 3,4000 of LF of reverse osmosis (RO) piping
    • 21,640 LF of copper process piping

Construction on the institute is expected to be completed in October 2021.

Both Jacob Reed and Morgan Hanley began their internships in Murphy Company’s St. Louis office this past spring semester.  

About Jacob

Jacob is entering his senior year at the University of Missouri-Columbia, studying Mechanical Engineering. In the spring working 20-hour week, Jacob was able to see the project manager role in action by attending coordination meetings, daily site walks and reviewing construction drawings making him more familiar with the project layout. Since the spring Jacob has transition to a full-time intern this summer.

“Since I have transitioned to full-time for the summer, I feel that I am gaining valuable real-world experience without too much of an internship feel. My responsibilities now include reviewing submittals, tracking productivity, and the commissioning process of equipment. I have been able to soak in as much information as possible, ask plenty of questions about topics I did not fully understand, and have real responsibilities that add value to the work being completed here. I believe it is the perfect balance that is allowing me to apply my skills and develop new ones.”

Jacob looks forward to the rest of his summer internship and continue to learn from Murphy employees the importance of coordination, communication, and critical problem solving.

“I have now seen multiple times how project managers are able to take a problem in stride, communicate with co-workers to create a solution, and implement that solution in a timely manner. I am also looking forward to watching further completion of the NextGen Precision Health Institute. I find it very exciting that I get to see firsthand the construction of a multi-million-dollar research institute at my college.”

About Morgan

Morgan Hanley is a Junior at the University of Missouri-Columbia studying chemical engineering. In the spring Morgan was on-site at the NextGen facility and this summer is currently working in Murphy Company’s engineering department.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time so far with Murphy as it has allowed me to apply what I have learned in my coursework to practical, real-world scenarios. I have enjoyed being able to see two pieces of a bigger puzzle at work. Being on site of NextGen and then coming to the Engineering department has been really interesting because it has closed the loop between the drawings and plans I worked with at Mizzou to how those intricate details, sizings, and selections are determined during the design phase. It has been fascinating to observe the complementary aspects of both locations, and I am excited to learn even more during the rest of the summer.”

Start Your Search for Top Talent Today

Find student chapter members like Derrick 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.

Register for Coffee with Koontz Episode 2: This Project Is On Fire!

Episode 2: This Project Is On Fire!
Friday, June 5 at 2:00 p.m. EDT

Have you ever had a nightmare project that just won’t end? Join John as he chats with his old friend from the City of Angels, Shaabini Alford (VP of Southern California Operations, Murray Company) about the practices and pitfalls of “crisis” project management. Tune in to hear Shaabini’s advice and lessons learned about surviving horrible projects, based on her ongoing real-life experience!

REGISTER TODAY

MCAA Iowa State Student Chapter Graduate Continues to Strengthen Her Career

Paige Taylor, a 2018 Construction Engineering graduate from Iowa State University, is building her career as a project manager at MMC Contractors, an MCA of Iowa, Inc. member. She initially connected with MMC at a career fair hosted by her MCAA Student Chapter in 2017.

“Over the summer, I interned with the company in Des Moines and learned the service side of the business,” she says. “I returned to ISU for my senior year, then after graduation, I joined the construction department full-time.”

As a part of the construction team in Des Moines, Paige has worn many hats, facing a different challenge every week. Her responsibilities have included:

  • Estimating
  • Writing RFP responses
  • HVAC design
  • Developing jobs through pre-construction
  • Aiding in company software transitions
  • Managing projects on her own

“Overall, it has been a blast to get to be a contributor to the growth of the company in the Des Moines market,” she explains.

In June, Paige will be relocating to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a new opportunity in her career with MMC Contractors.

MCAA and WiMI Involvement

“In an industry that is all about relationships, MCAA and the Iowa State University student chapter gave me opportunities to start building them even before my first day full-time on the job.”

Paige served as the event coordinator for the chapter, organizing job site tours and helping coordinate their industry networking event hosted each semester. She attended the 2018 MCAA Annual Convention, where she was part of the Women in the Mechanical Industry (WiMI) kickoff event.

She is still actively involved at Iowa State, where she serves as an industry mentor for the construction engineering learning community, working with a group of four to five new students each semester. Paige has also hosted job tours for the Iowa State Student Chapter members and attends the chapter’s “Industry Social” every year.

Paige had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Women in the Mechanical Industry Conference in Chicago. She joined the WiMI Mentor Program in January 2020. She says of the experience, “I was paired with an accomplished mentor who acts as a sounding board and provides advice backed by knowledge from her time in the industry. A great resource from WiMI!”

As she continues her career in mechanical contracting, Paige offers advice to current students. “Network as much as you study. Do not be afraid to ask for what you want in your career and reach a little. Interviews are a two-way street, it’s a chance for you to get to know the company and people who drive its success.”

MCA of Omaha, Inc. and UA Local 464 Partner to Distribute Hand Sanitizer

The MCA of Omaha, Inc. and UA Local 464 have partnered to distribute hand sanitizer to their members in the field. Together, Brad Bird, the Business Manager of UA Local 464, and Kelsey Johnson, the Executive Vice President of the MCA of Omaha, developed a distribution plan for 225 gallons of hand sanitizer donated through the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

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The hand sanitizer was manufactured by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in a collaborative project between several partners on the campus, including the College of Engineering, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Food Processing Center, and the Nebraska Innovation Campus.

On Tuesday, April 28, each of the contractors that requested hand sanitizer sent one representative to pick up the sanitizer from the union hall. 

Kelsey Johnson and the MCA of Omaha feel fortunate to be able support their members in a safe way. “This was an incredible effort by us and Local 464. Now more than ever, we all need to work together with our labor partners to keep our members safe and informed.”

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The Labor Management Cooperation Committee (LMCC) has made a $5,000 donation to the University of Nebraska Foundation to help keep the hand sanitizer project going. 

“We are lucky to have the hand sanitizer donated to us, and to have a great relationship with our [UA] local. As more [hand sanitizer] comes in, we will continue to distribute it out to our contractors and their essential workers, who are having a really hard time finding any hand sanitizer.”

Webinar #14: Navigating Uncertain Times with Radical Self-Care – Beverly Holcomb and Sarah Pozdol

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to reevaluate so much of our lives and what is TRULY important to us. It is imperative that all of us focus on our own personal health and well-being. And contrary to how we might feel – we are NOT powerless. The more proactive we act individually – and collectively – the more empowered we become. SATAURA co-founders, Beverly Holcomb and Sarah Pozdol, provide simple strategies on how to nourish and support, not only your mental and emotional health; but also provide practical tools and guidelines that will help you strike a healthy “work-life-home-health” balance. By providing tools for mental and emotional resilience, work-life strategies, REAL whole foods, restorative sleep, moving our bodies, and staying connected to nature and our loved ones – we can invoke deep reservoirs of balance, health and healing. This wellness webinar is sponsored by Women in the Mechanical Industry.

Additional Resources:

This webinar was recorded Tuesday, May 18, 2020.

Kimberly Sikkema Receives Alan O’Shea Memorial Scholarship

Congratulations to Kimberly Sikkema, one of the two recipients of the Alan O’Shea Memorial Scholarship.  The Mechanical Contractors Association of New Jersey established the scholarships to honor the memory of Alan O’Shea, its former Executive Director, and memorialize his many contributions to the mechanical contracting industry.

Kimberly is a sophomore from Ferris State University earning her degree in HVAC/R. Kimberly explains why she was drawn towards a career in the mechanical contracting industry: “I see the growth and demand that is needed in the industry, both now and in the future. I am also looking forward to every day being a different learning experience that will expand my knowledge within the industry.”

Kimberly is the President of her student chapter, which she joined in 2018. She had the opportunity to attend the 2019 GreatFutures Forum.

She says, “MCAA has given me the opportunity to go on trips and be able to network with mechanical contractors within the industry, as well as receive a better understanding of the opportunities that are available working for a mechanical contractor.”

For example, Kimberly was able to gain experience in the Johnson Controls PCT software, as well as connecting PCG controllers to HVAC units and commissioning them as part of an internship.

“Once I graduate, I look forward to pursuing my career that I worked so hard for in college. I look forward to seeing the wide variety of opportunities that are out there in the world for me as a woman in the HVAC/R industry. Most of all, I look forward to expanding my knowledge by facing new obstacles every day, receiving more hands-on learning out in the field, as well as learning more from experienced, skilled individuals.”

MCAA and the John R. Gentille Foundation congratulate Kimberly on this distinguished scholarship and thank the MCA of New Jersey for funding this scholarship to support younger students and keep them invested in the mechanical contracting industry.

Molly Sizemore Receives Ferguson-Women in the Mechanical Industry Scholarship

Molly Sizemore, a junior at Pennsylvania State University, has been awarded one of the two Ferguson-Women in the Mechanical Industry Scholarships.

Ferguson underwrites these scholarships, which recognize high-achieving female students working towards a degree relative to the mechanical industry.

Academic Experience

Molly is the President of the MCA of Central Pennsylvania-sponsored student chapter at Pennsylvania State University, where she studies Architectural Engineering specializing in mechanical systems.

Molly talks about how, “to my surprise, mechanical contracting fell into my lap after I was searching for a challenge in my academic career. When I first entered Penn State, I was generally just an architectural engineering student teetering between the structural and lighting design options. As I progressed in my academic career, I found myself really fascinated by HVAC and fire protection. HVAC really presented itself as an intricate puzzle which really drew me in.”

Molly acknowledges that, “MCAA has definitely created a springboard for me into the mechanical contracting industry, and I’m very excited to continue this journey and get others involved.”

She was able to grow her industry network by attending the 2019 Great Futures Forum, which has led her to ignite a passion for mechanical contracting in other students who have chosen to get involved with her student chapter.

Southland Industries Internship

Molly has accepted her second summer internship with MCA of Metro Washington member, Southland Industries. She reflects on her experiences:

“I liked the specialization of Southland and the responsibilities they gave me. I also really liked the mentor dynamic where I could sit down for an hour a week and ask any questions I had. My internship put me in a position where I can see all stages of the mechanical contracting process and have an opportunity to contribute at any stage. In my experience with Southland, I really love the dynamic of the firm in that everything is very mechanical-focused and specialized. I like the ability to have a detailed conversation about what is happening at every part of a mechanical system.”

You can read more about Molly’s internship experience here.

Women in the Mechanical Industry Perspective

Molly gives her thoughts about the challenges and opportunities that come along with being a woman in the industry:

“As a woman in the mechanical industry, I’ve experienced first-hand with being the only woman on a project team. Though I initially faced this as a challenge on my path, I turned it around and viewed it as an opportunity to build my own self-confidence and create a voice for myself in an industry dominated by men.

Beyond my own personal experience, I have been able to mentor young women in the Penn State College of Engineering to ignore the stereotypes and be more than a statistic. As a greater challenge, I think it will be getting everyone on the same page with accepting diversity in the industry. Diversity in a team brings new and innovative ideas because people come with different backgrounds and experience.”

Women in the Mechanical Industry and the John R. Gentille Foundation congratulated Molly Sizemore on this prestigious scholarship and thank Ferguson for their commitment to encouraging young women to be engaged in the industry.

New WiMI Conference Date Set for 2021

We are all doing our best to navigate these unprecedented times, and due to the uncertainty of the situation, the difficult decision has been made to postpone the 2020 WiMI Conference until next year. Please mark your calendars for June 21 – 23, 2021 at the JW Marriott, Austin, TX.

It will no doubt be another amazing event and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy each other’s company. We plan to open registration in early 2021 but in the meantime, WiMI is here for you!

We will continue to provide resources and information to help grow your careers and facilitate connections between women around the country in the mechanical industry! This is a great time to join our Mentor/Mentee Program and virtually connect with another woman in your field.

WiMI Mentee Questionnaire
WiMI Mentor Questionnaire

Ali Brown Receives Ferguson-Women in the Mechanical Industry Scholarship

Ali Brown, a junior at the University of Nebraska, has been awarded one of the two Ferguson-Women in the Mechanical Industry Scholarships.

Ferguson underwrites these scholarships, which recognize high-achieving female students working towards a degree relative to the mechanical industry.

Academic Experience

Ali has been a member of the MCA of Omaha-sponsored Student Chapter since 2017. She attended the 2019 GreatFutures Forum and the 2019 WiMI Conference. She is earning her degree in Business Administration & Human Resources.

In her scholarship application, Ali discusses why she shifted her focus from the engineering and construction management side of the industry to the business side. “Even though I am now a business major I still see the mechanical construction industry as an exciting industry to be in. I see the opportunities that there are for growth in all areas of the industry.”

Post-graduation, Ali sees herself working for a mechanical contractor in their human resources department. “I want to help with developing standards of practice as well as recruit new talent for my company. My goal in my career is to help people and I believe that I can achieve this goal through working in Human Resources.”

Ali is appreciative of her involvement with her student chapter and the connections she has made with contractors through the MCA of Omaha. “We work with our contractors to plan fundraising events, recruit new student chapter members, and much more. Through our chapter I feel like I have learned more about the industry than I ever thought I would know. I have been able to see how many different companies run jobs and other day-to-day activities between our different contractors.”

Waldinger Internship

Ali has been interning for The Waldinger Corporation, a member of the MCA of Omaha, MCAA and NCPWB, throughout her academic career. She has been involved in the administration, Virtual Design and Construction, and the accounting department. “I enjoy the culture we have at Waldinger. I especially enjoy the internship program we have; it exposes me to all facets of the company.” She is excited to continue her Waldinger internship this summer.

Ali reflects on her internship experiences and seeing the unique challenges and opportunities as a women in the industry. Ali thinks there are many challenges that come with being a woman in the mechanical contracting field. “Since it is so male dominated,” she said, “I feel like gaining the respect of coworkers is the biggest challenge that comes with being a woman in this field. Though it is a challenge I believe that also makes it an opportunity. The best way to grow personally is by taking challenges and turning them into opportunities.”

Women in the Mechanical Industry and the John R. Gentille Foundation congratulate Ali on this prestigious scholarship and thank Ferguson for their commitment to encouraging young women to be engaged in our industry.

Cristina Cosma Named Educator of the Year

This year’s MCAA Educator of the Year Award was presented to Cristina Cosma of the Wentworth Institute of Technology. The award, including a check, honors her mentoring ability, industry knowledge and involvement, and her active participation in MCAA’s Student Chapter program activities.

The students of the Wentworth MCAA Student Chapter sponsored by the New England MCA, Inc. (NEMCA) said, “a mentor’s role is to provide guidance, advice, encouragement, support, and resources. Cosma checks off all of these boxes and more.”

MCAA Student Chapter members credit Professor Cosma for the chapter’s fast growth and success, noting that “She puts a lot of time and effort into this chapter to ensure that we get the most out of it.”

Cosma has worked with chapter members to coordinate fundraising and community service events, including working with NEMCA on the annual golf tournament and facilitating an HVAC project for a neighborhood church.

Under Cosma’s guidance, the students have placed in the top ten of the MCAA Student Chapter Competition for the past seven years. Cosma has also helped increase chapter membership. According to chapter members, “Getting new members into our chapter is always something we struggle with. 90% of the students in our chapter hear about it through taking classes with Cosma. She will always advocate for MCAA and all of the opportunities it gives us students. She pushes us to attend all of our schools’ club involvement fairs to try and present our chapter and get new students to join.”

Professor Cosma maintains close relationships with NEMCA members and NEMCA Executive Vice President, Stephen Affanato, which has given the students many opportunities. For example, she has connected students with MCAA members for internship and co-op opportunities that led to full-time positions.

Cosma has “created an amazing opportunity when it comes to the students making lasting relationships with industry leaders. At any event Cosma urges us to step out of our comfort zones and talk to as many contractors as possible.”

MCAA and the John R. Gentille Foundation congratulate Cosma on her accomplishments, her chapter, and her contributions to the industry.

The Wentworth students say, “we can’t begin to thank Professor Cosma enough for all the help she has given this chapter, we seriously owe all of our success to her guidance.”

Hailey Brennan Receives First Josam Endowed Scholarship

Congratulations to Hailey Brennan, the first recipient of the annual Josam Endowed Scholarship. Josam Company has established an annual scholarship to a sophomore in a MCAA Student Chapter, pursuing a degree in construction management, mechanical engineering or a similar field. Provided that all qualifications are met each year, the yearly recipient will continue to receive the scholarship in their sophomore, junior and senior year.

Hailey is a sophomore, studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. Hailey joined her MCAA student chapter last fall and has since attended the 2019 GreatFutures Forum and helped lead her chapter to the final four of this year’s MCAA Student Chapter Competition.

Hailey has had an interest in the industry since middle school and began taking engineering courses in high school. “It was my choice to pursue HVAC as well, which is what really drew me toward a career in the mechanical contracting industry.”

While in high school Hailey was active in SkillsUSA, a career and technical student organization. The organization helped Hailey grow confidence in HVAC courses, and led to her interning with a mechanical contractor her senior year in high school.

She continued to pursue her industry interests while at the University of Maryland, and wants to continue to pursue a career in mechanical contracting throughout her educational and internship choices as an undergraduate.

She recently accepted a summer internship with MCAA member, Poole & Kent Corporation, in Baltimore, Maryland, where she will be working alongside Project Engineers on a hospital jobsite. Hailey found the internship through her student chapter connection with sponsoring local affiliate, MCA of Metro Washington.  “The local MCAMW events have provided me connections for internships and I have been happy to volunteer at MCAMW events to meet more of the local MCAA community.”

Hailey says she has given thought to completing an HVAC apprenticeship after graduation. “With my experience in mechanical engineering and business, completing an HVAC apprenticeship would put me on my way to becoming a business owner in the mechanical contracting industry.”

The John R. Gentille Foundation congratulates Hailey Brennan on this prestigious scholarship and would like to thank Josam Company’s CEO, Scott Holloway Sr., for the commitment to supporting younger students to keep them invested in the mechanical contracting industry.