Interview: How Drew Robinson uses unique background to approach engineering holistically
Working out of our Columbus office, Drew Robinson is one of our team's rising engineers and project managers. He's been with the firm for nearly four years but spent the beginning of his career in the trucking industry.
Drew has a diverse and flexible set of skills, which greatly benefits our team as a whole. He focuses on mechanical engineering but also holds the ability to contribute to electrical and plumbing design efforts. Currently, he is becoming certified to provide our clients with commissioning, giving Drew more value to our team.
While he typically works with higher education and municipal clients, Drew's set of skills makes him a strong fit for a wide variety of project teams. He's quickly learned what it takes to be a project manager at our firm and enjoys collaborating with owners, architects, civil engineers, and other design and construction partners to ensure a great finished project.
A short while ago, Drew took some time out of his day to discuss his job, why he enjoys working at our firm, and how he got to this point in his career.
What makes it feel exciting to come into the office every day?
Just coming to work here, I enjoy the office environment. The people here enjoy what they do. It makes it enjoyable....not a burden to come into work, it's fun to be here. You're learning, you're enjoying what you're doing, and enjoying the other people in the office. So it makes it nice.
What's the best professional development opportunity you've experienced as a member of Tec Inc.'s team?
I think it's the way [Tec Inc.] started me off gaining experience in commissioning. I was provided the opportunity to learn the industry from both sides, not just from behind the desk on the computer, but also being in the field doing commissioning. I got to see the implementation, how things are constructed, which really helped me become a better designer. Just because the computer says it, it doesn't mean that something can actually be constructed or is the best way to be constructed.
So you experienced a totally different side of the business world, so to speak?
The understanding of running a business was one thing that I had when I started here. And I think that's a huge benefit because you look at things differently and learn every day while some people may not fully understand how certain things affect the rest of the company.
What do you think is important to know as a new employee walking in the door for the first day at Tec?
Don't be afraid to ask a question. If you don't know or don't understand something, everyone here is willing to answer questions. They not only are willing but I think they enjoy the teaching aspect, helping younger engineers develop their careers. They're always willing to take time from their day to answer a question, whether it seems silly, or odd, or you're embarrassed to ask it because you feel as if you should know the answer. Everyone here is more than willing to help you. There are multiple senior staff members with over 20 years of MEP design and construction experience. So, they're an invaluable resource and they have an open-door policy. So it's very nice to say, if you've got a question on anything, they're going to have an answer or know where you can get that answer.
What do you think sets us apart from, larger firms, but maybe just other firms in the region as a whole?
The ability to reach out to a senior engineer. They care about your development, just as much as you do. At a larger firm, you're not going to get that. This firm is going to push you to progress your career and provide you the opportunity to learn a lot more. Larger firms, from my understanding, will keep you in a single discipline and can make you more specialized into a certain little niche. Here I am involved with electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and fire suppression design as well as commissioning. So I have the opportunity to develop my skills in multiple fields of design, which I know at a larger firm, I would never be able to do.
What are some of the techniques that you think either here or in your other job set you up for success?
The willingness to listen and to learn from the little things that seem minute to many. The willingness to listen and to learn from all of the aspects of your job, that's a big lesson in consulting engineering. Career success is just your willingness and ability to do that.
What have you done to become informed about the new trends in the industry, or professional development?
There are professional organizations, ASHRAE and ASPE, focusing on different aspects of MEP engineering as well as webinars hosted by manufacturer's representatives to discuss techniques and products throughout the industry. The firm encourages you to do that and they have a willingness to help you get through the steps to become an ASHRAE or ASHE member. They encourage you to take information learned and apply it and understand it because they know the value of staying informed and current with different manufacturers and technologies.