There’s more to engineering than the designing and building elements. One often overlooked component of the job is the sales aspect, something Jim Pape wants to change.
As part of the Engineering Better Careers, Engineering Better Environments,program, Pape, the vice president of commercial business in the U.S. western terrority of Trane, a heating and air-conditioning manufacturer, will be speaking today to engineering students about career options in the engineering field, particularly in the area of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning or HVAC systems. However, informing students about sales engineering is his key goal.
“Sales engineering is a career path that’s a big deal and not every engineering student realizes is an option,” Pape said.
Jesse Mandren, mechanical engineering professor and advisor to AshRai, the HVAC club who helped to organize Pape’s visit, thinks the information is needed.
“I don’t think our students know a lot about the sales aspect. Students tend think about designing and building part, but part of it is making sure the products we are producing fit with customer needs.”
The job is very different from a traditional engineering job.
“In a classical engineering role, you might spend years working on design and development without ever touching the commerce of the real world. This involves more interaction; we think there’s a sizeable minority of engineering students with the desire to be in front of the bus instead of inside it,” Pape said.
Though some may find the idea of heating and air-conditioning unexciting, Pape disagrees.
“On the surface it may not seem like an exciting place to spend a career, but the largest consumer of energy on the planet today is buildings,” he said.
“It’s a great career, you get the opportunity to work with people in large scale projects like designing a building.”
Two key issues faceing the HVAC industry are job growth and sustainable techonology.
Despite the rough economy, the demand for HVAC engineers continues to grow in the commercial world. However, there is a declining population of engineers and technicians working in the industry, Pape said.
“The macro reality is that we need people to come into this business,” he said.
Sustainability is another concern, since the heating and cooling of building systems accounts for 38 percent of the nation’s energy needs, a larger percentage of energy than it takes to fuel the entire nation’s transportation needs.
To cope with increasing legislative and consumer mandates, the industry is attempting to develop more energy-efficient heating systems. New and innovative ideas are continually in the works and students can expect to see demand for green systems to continue to increase, Pape said.
“The thing I didn’t have coming out of college that I wish I had is a plan; have a plan of what you want to do. To steal from the air force, aim high,” he said.
The lecture will take place at 11 a.m. in the Advanced Technology Laboratory on campus.