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Ice breakers for an 'urgent' New Year

Jan. 17, 2018
Increased education and next-generation recruitment already were emerging as an industry-wide emphasis for 2018, but there seems to be an even greater sense of urgency now.

Las Vegas or Orlando. That’s where people go for winter trade shows, right?

Not in the HVACR industry.

You want to talk chillers? You go to Chicago in the middle of January.

Makes perfect sense. At least that seems to be the reasoning this month, as Chicago prepares to host the 2018 ASHRAE Winter Conference and AHR Expo at McCormick Place. Coincidentally, the Windy City this month just logged 12 straight days where the local temperature failed to climb above 20 degrees, the first time that had happened here since 1936, according to the National Weather Service. So, welcome to ‘Ice Station HPAC.’

Luckily, however, controlling temperature and handling air quality is sort of your thing. And this year, hopefully, that expanding work may start getting a bit easier for you. Increased education and next-generation recruitment already are emerging as an industry-wide emphasis for 2018, but there seems to be an even greater sense of urgency driving the effort now. Just leafing through this issue finds three different industry groups that have put education, training and recruitment at the top of their New Year’s Resolutions.

The times, they are a-changin'

In our January issue, you’ll see variations on this theme from the Air Movement Control Association International, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and the American Boiler Manufacturers Association, in the lead story to our latest Boiler Systems Engineering special section. In one form or another, all are emphasizing next-generation outreach for our industry, with a particular goal of recruiting more women into engineering. That sub-theme is voiced in this issue by both Jennifer Scanlon, CEO of USG Corp., and Debbie Sterling, CEO of GoldieBlox, the toy company that is specifically aimed at inspiring future female engineers. 

On the association front, I should also mention here that, just as we were going to press, the research firm JBKnowledge Inc. (JBK) released its Sixth Annual Construction Technology Report, once again sponsored by the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) and Texas A&M University. JBK interviewed nearly 2,700 construction professionals across the industry about their technology, processes, related spending and R&D plans. 

“Not all of the reports’ findings were intuitive,” said MCAA, noting that respondents had reported using fewer apps, in general, but doing so more often. “Two trends that are important for our industry involved prefabrication and building information modeling (BIM). The two concepts are intertwined as many MCAA members begin using BIM to improve their fabrication productivity and capabilities. Prefabrication use has risen over 12% from 2016 (19.9% total in 2017) making it the second highest trend that all contractors are experimenting with.”  

According to JBK, “a startling trend however is that even with the increased adaption to BIM, 28% of the respondents still said that they do not bid on BIM projects. Some 52% of respondents have some in-house BIM capability, and roughly 20% simply outsource the process, says the report. (Look for more coverage of this report on our website.)

Look for all of those numbers to keep rising in next year’s report. Indeed, as the song says, “The times, they are a-changing.”