007 Stakeholders- A Resource or a Constraint?

Given and Find

menilScott, Julie, and I looked at our next homework problem, in the grey study room of the Engineering Sciences Building. The problem: “The velocity of a particle undergoing rectilinear motion is v(t)=3t2+10t m/s. Find the acceleration and the displacement at t=10 s, if so= 0 at t=0.” It was 1990, and we were in Engineering 101. As studious freshmen, we focused on the task at hand, as we had been taught, we wrote down Given, left a large empty space and then wrote Find. Under Given, we wrote down our parameters (Newton’s laws of motion) for helping us to solve this problem: acceleration is the derivative of velocity over time, and the integral of velocity with respect to time is displacement. Voila, we solved for the answer and finished our homework so we could go get a drink…of Pepsi, we were under 21.

Working with Constraints

Unlike Newton’s laws of motion, the stakeholders and the guidelines that serve as design parameters (givens) for campus projects are not as straight-forward. And, as you can imagine, Continue reading

006 One Easy Way to Show Appreciation via Email Response

email-inboxI closed my email on the Mac that I shared with my fellow architectural students at Arizona State University. My dad hadn’t written me back again. I started to get up from the desk, but then I sat back down. I had written him four emails and no reply. I was pissed. Granted it was 1994, so email was a new phenomenon, but I was 2,000 miles from home for the first time in my life, and I was a tiny bit (OK a lot) homesick. I sent him the following email. “Dear Dad, if you do not respond to this email, I will never write you again. Love Amy.” Of course he answered and has never missed answering an email since then. Over the next few years, I relaxed a bit and didn’t expect an email reply unless I needed a question answered.

Fast forward to 2007. I worked at an A/E firm and noticed that my client, an architectural Continue reading

005 Project Milestones & Marketing Strategies

image-for-post-005With the help of my parents, my first job was delivering The Dominion Post, in Westover, WV. I earned a fair amount of money for my candy habit, and had enough left over to buy a piano. If I knew then what I know now, I would have saved a lot of money on dentist bills and I’d own Microsoft stock instead. While I was a consultant I often thought the same thing, if only I’d known about the project before my competition, I could’ve positioned myself better to be on the winning team. Some of you may be aware of the milestones in the planning process and some of you may not, but knowing the milestones described below may give you a leg up on your competition.

01 Master Plan

The creation of a campus master plan is the twinkle in the eye milestone of a project. The campus Owner (University, City, or Corporate entity) will hire an architectural planning firm Continue reading

004 Interview with an WI State CIP Project Manager


Craig Weisensel MBA, PMP, PE, AIA manages the capital improvement projects and maintenance projects of Wisconsin state facilities. He is the Team Leader for the Project Delivery Section and he oversees a staff of project managers with a portfolio of over 300 major capital development projects and over 1000 maintenance and repair projects for a combined total budget of $700 Million.

[Q] I work closely with design teams [A/E] on our state projects and sometimes they share with me their frustration with our internal review process.  What do you think are the biggest complaints that architects and engineers [A/E] have when they work on your campus projects? Continue reading

003 Interview Tip for Renovation Projects

IMG_1220In the year that I’ve been working for the state, I’ve been a member of several designer selection committees. Most of the interviews have been for renovation projects such as mechanical system upgrades, elevator modernizations, and roof replacements. The first time I sat in on an interview, the responsibility of deciding who would win the project weighed heavily on me. Being a recent designer myself, I know how important getting the next job can be. I hope the insight I’m about to share will help you on the next interview.

Before I start, one thing that designers should understand about interview committees is that not all committee members are architects or engineers. The interview committee is usually composed of the project manager (like me), a construction manager, and a representative from the school that uses the building such as School of Medicine or the Music Department, so at least one person on the team is not familiar with architectural or engineering terms.  The committee is called the CIP (Capital Improvement Project) team. Continue reading

002 Folder Structure for Design and Construction Professionals

I walkemain folder copyd into Pat’s office and since he was on the phone, I motioned to him that I needed the sister drawing to the one I had in my hand. We were working together on a project and he was the PM. I looked down at his desk, which was hidden under  haphazardly placed 18”X24” drawing sheets. The sheets were frayed and had been walked on, and were covered with red-lines from his fat no. 9 Pentel pencil. He tucked the phone under his chin and put the pencil in his mouth, swiveled around in his chair, lifted a stack of papers a few inches off his desk and pointed with his nose to the drawing that I needed. He’s worked this way for 35 years and is regarded as a structural engineering genius. Somehow chaos works for him. Continue reading

001 Make a Decision Already!

IMG_0695I recently interviewed designers for a new project.  At the end of the interview, I told them that we’d announce the selected designer a month later.  If I could read their minds, I would imagine that they would be saying “Make up your mind already!  Can’t you state workers make a decision faster than that?”  (Or at least that is what I would have been thinking) I then went on to explain that the selection committee recommends the designers to the Board of Trustees (BOT) for approval. The BOT meets every other month, so unless our interview is near the time of the BOT meeting, the designers have to wait. Continue reading