How Engineers Saved Graduation Day

By Matthew Daves, PE, McKim & Creed

When it comes to being an engineer, the number one rule (regardless of specialty) is to learn how to listen and solve problems. As McKim & Creed–a company that lives by our mission of “people helping people”–solving our clients’ most difficult problems is the thing we love to do the most.

McKim & Creed has many project stories in which we have gone the extra mile to solve critical problems for our clients. One of the best examples I remember from my career is when we were completing the construction of a new chiller plant at the NC School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM). We had just finished going through the pre-final inspection of the chiller plant and its operation, and were in the process of switching back to the old campus chillers when the NCSSM maintenance team made an important discovery. An equipment failure would not allow the old plant to return to operation until repairs could be made.

This happened the week of graduation, and the NCSSM staff were concerned on how to deal with the equipment failure. Our team put the new chiller plant back in operation and worked through control system punchlist items over the next two days.  The day before graduation, the new chiller plant was operational, but our client remained concerned about what might happen if a problem were to arise on graduation. The answer was simple: I would walk the chiller plant with their staff at 6:00 AM the morning of graduation. We had contractors on standby in case any issues were to arise.  We exchanged home and cell phone numbers.

The next day we walked the entire campus as the plant continued to operate successfully and graduation went on without a hitch. At the end of the day, our client’s worst fears were alleviated, and we continued to build on our strong reputation of “people helping people.” McKim & Creed has continued to work on the NCSSM campus on numerous projects over the last 15 years. We treat our clients as clients for life, and this is just one example of where we have stood by that principle.