Florida, US – July, 2020
I stepped in the HVAC world all by myself. I’m the only mechanical engineer in the family. We have dentists, pediatricians, and physicians. My father studied Urban Design and although I soon became interested in architecture and construction, I wanted to connect it with mechanics. Since I had begun my education, I was aware that I would want to steer towards system installations in buildings. This is the combination of civil engineering, architecture, and mechanics that I was seeking. Furthermore, the design of HVAC installations addresses one of my concerns; being able to work on improving the efficiency of buildings.
Perhaps since I come from an oil-producing country, Venezuela, I have always had environmental awareness and I believe it is more beneficial, for society, to try to make all constructions more sustainable, than to simply exploit a non-renewable resource with the consequential destruction it entails.
I worked for three years at the mechanical installations of the largest supermarket network in Venezuela. I learned quite a lot, however, the regulations on installations and energy efficiency in my country are quite outdated and I needed to further my education.
I was given a scholarship as a research assistant in the USA, at the University of Oklahoma. The program was just what I was looking for: the study of the energy efficiency of buildings based on design and HVAC control systems.
The research was conducted at an airbase clinic. For two years I worked very hard and in 2017 I came to Miami to do exactly what I had specialized in; the design of air conditioning systems for hospitals, laboratories, and research centers.
The current situation is complicated due to the lockdown, I am currently working from home, but unlike many other sectors, ours is considered essential and even more so the part related to health.
In fact, I have witnessed how projects that were already scheduled are now pushed forward, to prepare for future outbreaks. I haven’t stopped but many of my friends aren’t so lucky.
It’ s been rough. I wasn’t used to sitting in front of the computer for long hours at a time. Not going to the office and working from home means I just never disconnect. I’ve tried to maintain a routine, but sometimes, it’s impossible for me not to take a call or check my mail on the weekend. In spite of everything, I think staying home for this extended period of time has been positive for our industry.
We have all realized that we want a comfortable home and achieving this requires good air conditioning design. Also, in any business, people who had never been concerned about it, now want to improve the air quality in their offices. I think everyone understood much better how important our industry is.
Personally, I am more afraid of spreading the virus than catching it. The thought that I might make someone else sick is what worries me the most. We must be very careful. That is the only way we can care about others. We have to be supportive. And I think that this lockdown is giving us important life lessons.
I’ve been thinking a lot about these days and I see that sometimes we get so caught up in the routine that we miss the important stuff. Now I value being in touch with my family and friends so much more. But perhaps what has struck me most is that I have seen children playing in the street, like when I was little, without material objects. It has been like a revelation for me, as we fill up our lives with many unnecessary things to fill the emptiness. Right now, I am grateful for being healthy, to have people to share it with, and to be able to do what I love. It doesn’t take that much for one to be happy.