Commissioning Agent at Glumac
1. Can you tell me a bit about your career path and what led you to the role you’re in today?
As a student in high school, I decided I wanted to study engineering. My interest was sparked when I attended an engineering camp similar to iEngineer; above all, the mentors showed me that someone like me could be an engineer and that engineers are highly desired and well paid. So I went to Penn State University and majored in Mechanical Engineering, even though I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my career. I figured having an engineering degree would give me a lot of options. In order to gain experience during my college career, I did a paid summer engineering internship and a study-abroad program. After finishing my degree, I moved back home to Portland and began looking for a job, though I still had no idea what I wanted to do. After about 9 months of searching, networking, interviews, and rejections, I met the father of a coworker (at a part-time job I had) for lunch. He told me about his role as a commissioning agent. The work sounded like a great fit, and that set me on a path that led me to my first (and current) full-time job doing building commissioning.
2. What were some of your early roles in the field?
My first position in my field is the one I currently work in. Commissioning agents work to optimize heating and cooling, plumbing, and lighting systems in buildings. I work with architects, engineers, construction companies, and building owners. Building owners are typically our customer. We use our expertise to help them to make sure their building systems are working in energy efficient and safe ways.
3. What skills do you think are most important for someone interested in a job like yours?
As a commissioning agent, you should have problem-solving skills and a habit of thinking critically. You should also be able to communicate well and with different types of people. Finally, organization is really important in this role because a commissioning agent often works on many projects at the same time.
4. What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out in this career/role?
When I first began my position as a commissioning agent, I wish I would have prioritized getting my engineering certification. I am still working on pursuing this now, but it would have been smart to begin the process earlier.
5. Were there any challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them, if any?
A big challenge I overcame was pushing through to graduate college. It took me 6 years to finish my 4-year program, and I came extremely close to quitting. I was able to trust that it was all going to pay off, and to take it one class at a time.
6. What are, in your eyes, the most sought-after STEM careers of the future?
Careers in renewable energy are and will continue to be sought after as our world transitions away from fossil fuels. Also, look out for fields that involve programming or automation. People often don’t realize how many areas this applies to. In the building industry for example, building automation systems (BAS) are being programmed into more and more commercial buildings, so HVAC controls companies will continue having more and more work available for those who know about it. In most industries, some form of automation is or will be on the way. It’s a great field to explore.