McKinstry’s Sheila Noel on Her Passion for Technology Solutions in the Built Environment

“Controls are behind the scenes but are just as important as renewable energy in achieving a net zero building.”

Sheila is a technology solutions engineer with the Florida Remote Operation Center team and has been with McKinstry for over a year. Sheila found a passion for this work through drafting for pneumatic controls layouts in previous roles.

Learn more about Sheila’s experience and insight on operating and maintaining building automation systems.

Learn More About Sheila’s Experience

What is your role at McKinstry? How did you get there?

I am a technology solutions engineer with the Florida Remote Operation Center team. Prior to this position, I worked for a large university overseeing and coordinating the installation of a ESCO project which resulted in a 65% reduction in utility cost. By incremental changes I was able to cut utility cost for 7 consecutive years and oversaw one of the most efficient chilled water plants in the ESCO vendor’s southeast region. I was looking for a challenge since the building essentially ran itself. I was also seeking a higher salary since universities tend to pay less than the “real world.”

How did you develop an interest in your field?

While attending college for Computer Science, I was working part time for Honeywell doing drafting for pneumatic controls layouts. A new method of controlling mechanical equipment was being pioneered. Direct Digital Control was a new concept at that time. The engineering branch manager thought this would be a fit with my classes and understanding of pneumatic controls. There was also a reluctance from the pneumatic engineers and technicians to embrace this concept. I was at the right place at the right time for this new technology. I unpacked the first computer in the branch — a brand new Apple IIE.

What does success look like in your role?

In this role – success is accurately dispatching work orders to the most appropriate vendor, reviewing and correcting software, if possible, to prevent dispatch to vendors as well as reviewing systems for any underlying issues that cause comfort problems or cause excessive utility consumption.

What is the most rewarding thing about your work?

What I find to be most rewarding are correcting deficiencies in design or software to make the site more efficient without compromising comfort as well as revising or correcting chiller plant sequences for optimal efficiency.

What change do you hope to inspire through your work at McKinstry?

Controls are behind the scenes but are just as important as renewable energy in achieving a net-zero building. The impact of upgrading mechanical systems in the built environment and having correctly operating Building Automation Systems (BAS) cannot be an afterthought. The billions of dollars in deferred maintenance can be offset by upgrading HVAC systems and often have very positive ROI.

One of my goals is to mentor less experienced employees by making them aware of issues and how to correct them.

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