Always up for a good challenge, be it mental or physical, Jim Meyer wasn’t completely certain he wanted to be a plumbing engineer, but the 27-year-old graduate of Missouri University of Science & Technology is now finishing his 3rd year as a full-time plumbing and fire protection engineer with Ross & Baruzzini in St. Louis, Missouri.
“I grew up watching my father work as a plumbing and fire protection engineer,” he recalls. “I think that a large part of why I chose plumbing engineering was because of him. Hearing about things that he did when he came home made me feel comfortable with the idea of working in the field.”
But it wasn’t until he landed his first internship with Ross & Baruzzini that Jim was certain that he wanted to pursue the same career.
“There was something about that first experience that really gave me clarity about the industry and I knew that it was going to be a good place for me. I had the fortune of working for and learning from some great mentors during that first internship, and even since then,” he says.
Jim currently designs projects for the higher education and research market of the company’s MEP business. His main focus is on laboratory and research facility design. “I thoroughly enjoy working in this field because of the many diverse gas and water systems that I get to design and the stringent requirements that often accompany them,” he says.
Jim notes two very important issues facing the plumbing industry today. The first he says is the implementation of green technology and the focus on water conservation. “I think that as more of these green initiatives and water conservation strategies are implemented, there will be a need to closely examine how systems are sized and designed to meet these changing needs," he insists. "I think that it is my responsibility to continually learn and examine how I am designing systems to ensure that they are designed as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
The second of the biggest issues facing the industry he says is the growing age of most of the work force. “I know that I can contribute a portion of the success that I have had as an engineer to the experience and knowledge that has been imparted on me from the plumbing engineers that I have had the privilege of working with.
He adds, "I think that it is extremely important that the field start to add some youth to the industry so that they have the time and opportunity to learn from the wealth of experience and knowledge that there is in this field. I think that it is my responsibility to become engaged in my community and to engage with high school and college students to make them aware of the industry and the possibilities that go along with a career in this business.”
Jim is coming up on his eligibility to obtain both his CPD certification and his PE license. He has plans to study for both of those exams, while preparing to take his LEED AP exam.
“My daily focus is on trying to produce thorough drawings and making an effort to learn something new every day to continually expand my knowledge of the business,” he says. “I think that the longer I am in this business, I hope that I can transition to become a mentor for younger engineers and designers and impart as much knowledge as I can so that they can become effective engineers. Along with that, I hope that I can somehow inspire more boys and girls to consider plumbing engineering as a career that they would like to pursue.”
When he thinks about being most satisfied in life, Jim looks for a good balance of work and home life. “I think when both things are going well, there is a good rhythm that allows for focus and dedication, and fun and creativity. I have always found the saying of, ‘work hard, play hard’ to be a very good practice for me to follow.”
From a professional standpoint, Jim appreciates that his company has done a great job of continually challenging him to take on new and more challenging tasks. There are certainly times it has not been easy for him, but he enjoys the increased responsibility that he’s entrusted with and he knows that all of the challenges have only led him to become a better engineer.
He says to the younger generation considering the plumbing industry as a career path, “first and foremost, whatever industry you choose to go into, you need to enjoy that career. I can comfortably say that I do.”
Jim believes that continual growth in knowledge is key. There is always something new out there to be learned and continually growing that collection of knowledge is vital.
“Much of our world is driven by engineering, both figuratively and literally,” Jim says. “And I feel very lucky to be a part of that industry. I get to make an impact on people’s lives, albeit sometimes in a very small way, such as by designing a properly working water closet or a bottle filler. I hope that in some cases I can affect people in a larger way by designing a laboratory that a scientist may then use to discover a cure or invent something new and wonderful or a hospital room where some system that I’ve designed may help heal someone in need. Whether the impact is great or small I take pride in the fact that I, in some way, am providing a service that people will likely use every single day and I think there’s something pretty cool about that.”
We look forward to the impact he will make with his efforts in the plumbing industry.