Recently, I attended the ASHRAE Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington as a participant in the Leadership U program. If you don’t already know, ASHRAE is the leading society for advancement of the built environment, and its members are continually researching, writing standards, and providing education resources for the building industry. Leadership U is a program sponsored by the Young Engineers in ASHRAE (YEA) in which four young engineers are selected to shadow the four Vice Presidents of ASHRAE. The goal of the program is to transfer knowledge from the senior members in ASHRAE to the future leaders of the organization.
I had the opportunity to shadow Vice President Dan Pettway, a Senior Project Manager at Hobbs & Associates in Norfolk, Virginia. Even with all of Dan’s ASHRAE commitments (Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Publishing and Education Council Chair, Planning Committee, Finance Committee, and Technical Committee-7.2 HVAC&R Construction and Design Build Technologies), he still made time to be a remarkable mentor. Dan helped me understand all of the ASHRAE acronyms (there are so many, one could easily write an “ASHRAE Dictionary”) as well as explained the detailed thought process that goes into how changes are made within the organization.
During Dan’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors meetings, I was impressed at the passion, hard work, and dedication that Dan and his follow members/volunteers spent making sure that all decisions are made for the good of ASHRAE. When these committees meet, the discussions can occasionally get intense because everyone is so passionate about what direction ASHRAE should take. Amazingly, in the end, everyone finds a way to come to a conclusion and still be professional towards each other as colleagues and friends.
Additionally, Dan’s charming and supportive wife Terri was a bonus role-model for me. When Dan was busy with ASHRAE business, Terri would explain all the preparation that goes into attending a conference and how Dan has perfected the skill of successfully jumping from one conversation to the next in a room full of people wanting his attention.
A common question brought up throughout the conference was, “Why volunteer for ASHRAE?” For my part, I have remained a volunteer because I am passionate about the HVAC industry and interested in meeting other people who share my interests. Furthermore, I want to support ASHRAE and increase awareness about the incredible technical resources available to its members. Various members at the conference explained the concept of an “ASHRAE MBA” to me. By maintaining involvement in organization at the chapter, regional, and society levels as well as serving on technical and standing committees, a member gains the same skills as someone earning an MBA. Communication skills, business knowledge, leadership and problem-solving abilities, finance management, and teamwork are all talents that any ASHRAE member can easily gain by volunteering. Being made aware of this helped me fully understand the personal and professional benefits I am gaining by staying involved.
I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Leadership U program. Being able to experience Dan Pettway’s ASHRAE involvement, meet Society-level leaders, and absorb some of their expertise made participation in this program an invaluable experience. Plus, I am really excited to be able to call myself a member of the “Leadership U Alumni” club!
For more information about Leadership U: https://www.ashrae.org/membership–conferences/leadership-u
About the Author
Jessica Mangler is Mechanical Engineer at Ross & Baruzzini with experience in mechanical design for higher educational facilities, student housing projects, central energy plants, laboratories, amphitheaters, government facilities, office buildings, medical and dental facilities, and commercial buildings focusing on chilled beams, VAV systems, fan coil units, and chilled and heated water systems. Jessica specializes in energy modeling.