Integrating an old dog into new tricks
I have come across the term integrated design again. This is the process that gets the engineer and architect to come together at the earliest phases of the project conception to develop a kick-butt solution for the owner. Then a though cross my mind as it's aught to do: "Do engineers today have the skills necessary to successfully go through an integrated design process?" Really, it seems to me that these are higher order skills, that would involve more senior engineers. Unfortunately I know senior engineers that would be lost in this process. Is there a way to teach this process to engineers. If so what would be the steps? Here's my guess:
1. Good negotiating skills. At this level of discussion there can be a lot of egos involved. Architectural designers are used to getting their own way and steering the ship. They will need to learn how to listen more to the engineering side. And the contrary point can be made for engineers they need to be firm without being subborn. They need to be able to support their ideas with facts rather than this is the way it has always been.
2. Good communication skills. Engineers are not known for their gift of gab, so make sure that you can present your ideas and thoughts clearly without a lot of mental re-writes.
3. Complex is not always better. The exact opposite always tends to be true. If an operator of a building can't understand the sequence of operations then you might as well have a switch on a wall to turn the systems on and off.
4. Complex is not always more efficient. I was reminded recently by a maintenance person that the most efficient system is one that is off. Enough said.
5. Learn the process from others. This is by far the hardest one. The only real way of learning the process is to learn from someone who has already been throught it. The classic chicken and the egg dilema. So I'm putting all you people who have been through this process on notice. Write down what you went through, don't worry about the, "every buildings different" excuse, just give me some lessons learned. The only way that things like these can grow legs is if a lot a people start going through this process successfully.
And in case you are wondering where I got started on all this go and visit this site and watch the videos.
Remember to Know what you build, and share what you know.