Being a young engineer and paying it forward

By Glenn Mainardi

A recent quick poll done by Luvata indicated that every five years the average age of the qualified engineer increases by three years. It is currently at about 56 years old, and that means that in about 12 years the average engineer will have retired. This subject is in the process of being addressed by ASPE through the creation of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers Young Professionals (AYP). AYP is creating a plumbing community that we need to encourage, support, and excite all young plumbing engineers between the ages of 25-35 towards becoming qualified professional engineers to continue advancing the world of plumbing.

As the NYC Chapter AYP Liaison, I’ve taken my first step towards bringing more knowledge of the profession to individuals at the “Be an Engineer Expo” that was held at the White Plains High School on March 30. Check it out at: http://beanengineer.org.

I’ve always believed in the notion that goes, “Don’t Anticipate, Just Participate,” which led me to be quite surprised that the event was flooded with such a vast range of people. Young scouts were taking notes as they inquired about engineering in order to earn their engineering merit badge. There were high school students on the quest for knowledge about various engineering careers so they could narrow their plans of where to apply for college. Parents roamed around either following their passionate children or dragging their unmotivated children around.

There were many potential future plumbing engineers and parents that stepped up to our table inquiring about plumbing engineering and what ASPE is all about. Many questions came up that Joseph Tagliaferro, administrative ecretary for ASPE-NYC, and I were both delighted to answer. The top three questions were:

1. I’ve never heard of plumbing engineering as a major/degree, how do I become one and how much education do I need?
2. What does a typical workday look like and how many hours do you work each week?
3. How much can I expect to make?

Students and parents appeared to be most excited to hear that Tagliaferro and I personally don’t work more than a 40-hour weeks and that as consulting plumbing engineers in NYC we get the gift of seeing the designs we put on the computer being constructed by leaving the desk environment for field visits at construction sites. There was also excitement seen by our visitors when they saw a project example and its vast array of plumbing systems, which included laboratory waste and medical gasses/vacuum in addition to basic sanitary and domestic water systems. They were happy to hear that every project I’ve worked on required a unique perspective and creative approach.

What a joy it was for me to see a young child earning his engineering merit badge asking questions about engineering. His eyes lit up as he furiously wrote down information about plumbing engineers and what they do. It was explained to him that some plumbing engineers also design sprinklers other than the ones that pop up in the grass and you can run through; sprinklers that fight fires and save human lives. I believe that planting seeds of knowledge and excitement into little minds has an impact on where that child may end up in life. After all, the whole reason I’m an Oakland Raiders fan (yes...by choice) is very much due to my interaction with a player when I was young and impressionable.

At the end of the day, Tagliaferro and I ended up paying it forward and walking out with empty informational packet boxes and feeling fulfilled from a mission accomplished. We may never be around to see that little scout become an engineer. But it’s not about seeing, it’s about believing in the future of plumbing engineering.

Glenn Mainardi is an Associate Plumbing & Fire Protection Engineer at BR+A Consulting Engineers, PC in NYC. He has recently been elected as the AYP Liaison to ASPE’s NYC Chapter and has been a member of ASPE for more than five years.

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