Plumbing Engineer April 2019/59
3. Become a mentor By taking the time to teach someone else, whether it is one hour a month or two hours a day, you are helping some- one else understand concepts as well as solidifying your personal understanding of those concepts. Mentoring also allows you to identify any holes in your own knowledge you may not have been aware of. 4. Sign up for magazines relating to what you do Many online and print magazines are available for you to subscribe to. These magazines not only have technical articles, they also have something new to learn on every page. Advertisements are especially helpful in introducing you to new products you otherwise may not know exist. 5. Call manufacturers If you have a question about a certain product, there is likely no one who knows more about it than the manufactur- er. The phone number to the manufacturer or the manufac- turer's representative can be found on the company website. I have called those numbers many times to gain informa- tion on the application of the product, how the product is installed, clearances of the product, electrical connections for the product, etc. My experience is always that these people want to help and if they can't answer my questions, they will get me con- nected to someone who can. Calling manufacturers can be a great resource for product information. 6. Know your local plumbing board Attending a local plumbing board meeting is beneficial in gaining an understanding of how it decides on code changes and how it processes variances. And it is important to meet with your local plumbing inspector, ideally around the 30 percent to 60 percent design level, to help prevent any surprises that may pop up when you are trying to obtain a building permit or trying to get the final sign off. Google things you don't know If you find yourself wondering how something looks in real life rather than drawn on paper, consider searching the Internet for images to help show you how something is done. Videos are useful for gaining an understanding of how something you typically draw on paper is actually installed in the field. This can help you refine your drawings and consider constructability in your designs. 8. Look at the world around you When traveling to another part of the country or part of the world, take a look around and see if there is an aspect of plumbing or installation that is done differently than what you are used to. If you have an opportunity, consider attend- ing a plumbing-related educational meeting when you are away from home. Not only will it build your network but it also will give you the opportunity to ask about the differences you noticed while being in a location you are unaccustomed to. For example, you may notice differences in seismic bracing, locations of equipment being inside or outside and roof drainage design. 9. Make a list Think about all the things in the past couple of weeks that have stumped you. Additionally, try to come up with as many questions as you can that you would not know how to answer. Those lists are now your basis for discovery. You have pinpointed the holes in your knowl- edge and you can now proactively find answers to your questions and fill those holes. 10. Look for continuing education credits Even if you don't hold a license or have any creden- tials, seeking continuing education credits is another way to find general learning opportunities in your area. I want to end with a quote from Nelson Mandela: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Go forth and find those resources available to you! Jennifer Olson, PE, LEED AP, is as a Plumbing and Fire Protection Engineer at STV Inc. in Boston, MA. She designs plumbing and fire protection systems for a vari- ety of buildings including vehicle maintenance facilities, prisons, commercial kitchens, multifamily elderly hous- ing, and general commercial office spaces.
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