Written by: Joe Castenir, University of Cincinnati, Electrical Engineer, 2021
The main reason to co-op while in school is to explore different fields of your major. Motz Engineering provides this opportunity every day; it can range from doing an electrical design for the Cintas Center at Xavier University or a design review for a brand new Tallmedge High School to making site visits to the 84.51° building downtown to record lighting levels. I first started at Motz as an electrical engineering co-op doing mostly lighting design and power distribution. Towards the end of my first rotation at Motz, I decided to explore electrical systems commissioning engineering. Motz had no hesitation to offer this opportunity for me since then I have been able to explore what a commissioning engineer does. Each day I am given more responsibilities and tasks to complete as if I was a full-time employee.
Being a co-op in the commissioning department at Motz engineering can lead to a bunch of different opportunities each day. These can vary from on-site equipment testing and data recording, or electrical design review, or seeing a chiller start-up, or attending meetings. These are just some aspects of what I do as a co-op in the commissioning department.
An example of what I have done as an electrical system commissioning engineering co-op is doing a lighting study at the 84.51° building downtown, where I could record lighting levels and see how different light fixtures, lamps, and layouts contribute to the lighting in a building. Each project comes with challenges, and what appeared in this project was that it was a parking garage renovated into an office building, which meant there had been a lot of exposed concrete that absorbs the lighting. This became an issue when the original engineering firm had not taken everything into account and provided a lighting layout that had not given the space the proper lighting. So it was given to Motz to solve this problem, and some different tactics implemented in this project were using rotating light bulbs, changing the colors of walls, creating a different lighting layout, and various types of bulbs as well. As an electrical systems commissioning engineer this gave me a neat experience to see what needs to be done to provide a fantastic facility the appropriate light it needs to function.
Another excellent opportunity that I experienced at Motz was the ability to do electrical design reviews. These reviews were completed for brand new high schools, an ice arena at Miami University, and we even had an opportunity to do a review for the Orlando Airport.
Recently, we just completed an electrical design review for the Winton Woods City Schools new elementary and high school. During electrical design review, I am responsible for marking up any electrical design issues and concerns on the drawing and then importing them into a report to send to the design team and owner.
Working as an electrical system commissioning engineer is not all office work, it requires on-site testing and start-ups. During the first couple of weeks in my summer rotation, I had the opportunity to see a chiller start-up at Anderson High School. Other tasks that require field visits are completing pre-functional checklists, functional testing, walkthroughs, site observations, and owner training. An excellent example of owner training that I had recently experienced was on 15th & Vine in Cincinnati. This building downtown was renovated to create more office spaces downtown. I was at this project to attend the owners training meeting for the generator and fire alarm system. This meeting is required to provide the owner and his staff the knowledge to properly operate the equipment. Moreover, the owners training for the generator and fire alarm system was informative to see as an electrical engineering major because I got to see how power distribution, signals & systems, and other essential electrical properties are implemented within a building.
A day in the life working as a co-op in the commissioning department can vary every day. It could be sitting at your desk in the office one day, working on a design review, or standing on top of a ladder in Chillicothe inspecting equipment for a new elementary school. It may seem like a lot of work and responsibility, but at Motz, there is time to relax at company cookouts and happy hours at a local brewery.