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ASHRAE Journal Podcast Episode 10

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Lessons Learned: What I Wish I'd Known When I Became an Engineer

“I think just being visible and accessible is the key to mentorship. When you open yourself up to the opportunity—whether you’re giving it or receiving it—then friendships are formed and bonds are made,” said Jennifer Leach, P.E., Member ASHRAE. Leach and Katherine Hammack, Fellow ASHRAE, talk mentorship, lessons learned from past experiences and how engineers should nurture their curiosity on this episode of ASHRAE Journal Podcast.

Guests, left, Katherine Hammack and Jennifer Leach

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  • Guest Bios

    Katherine Hammack, Fellow ASHRAE, serves as Director of Special Projects at GBCI. She reengages with the USGBC family after having been one of the founding members more than 30 years ago. Her focus is on increasing resilience and reliability in power grids and the built environment with the PEER program. With a Mechanical Engineering degree from Oregon State University and a master’s in business from University of Hartford, Katherine couples a strong background in energy and engineering with her goal of building a better working world for future generations. She was appointed by President Obama as the Assistant Secretary of the US Army for Installations, Energy and Environment in 2010, and served in that capacity, through 2017. She is the chair of ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, and serves on the ASHRAE's Task Force for Building Decarbonization. She has received awards as an ASHRAE Fellow and for Distinguished Service; Decoration’s for Distinguished Civilian Service Federal government; and the USGBC Leadership Award in 2015.

    Jennifer Leach, P.E., Member ASHRAE, is an architectural engineering graduate from Penn State and a registered engineer in Maryland. She currently works for BR+A, specializing in the design of HVAC systems for healthcare facilities. Jennifer is a former president of the Baltimore Chapter ASHRAE and currently serves as the Historian. At the Society level, Ms. Leach serves on the Nominating Committee and is a member and leader of several technical committees. Her passion is being a visible role model in STEM and encouraging and developing awareness of the importance of retaining women in engineering and construction.

  • Show Notes

    “I think just being visible and accessible is the key to mentorship. When you open yourself up to the opportunity—whether you’re giving it or receiving it—then friendships are formed and bonds are made,” said Jennifer Leach, P.E., Member ASHRAE.

    Jennifer and Katherine Hammack, Fellow ASHRAE, talk mentorship, lessons learned from past experiences and how engineers should nurture their curiosity on this episode of ASHRAE Journal Podcast.

  • Transcription

    ASHRAE Journal:

    ASHRAE Journal presents.

    Jennifer Leach:

    The opportunities to learn and to give back are endless. And every time I meet a young person in this industry, I really just kind of encourage them: Again, find your passion, do what you want to do and become that subject matter expert, because you can.

     ASHRAE Journal:

    Episode 10: Katherine Hammack and Jennifer Leach discuss mentorship, lessons learned from past experiences and how engineers should nurture their curiosity and eschew assumptions. Katherine is the Director of Special Projects at Green Business Certification, Inc. She's the chair of ASHRAE Standard 189.1 and serves on the ASHRAE Decarbonization Task Force. She was appointed by President Obama as the Assistant Secretary of the US Army for Installations, Energy and Environment in 2010 and served in that capacity through 2017.

    Jennifer Leach is an architectural engineering graduate from Penn state. She is a registered engineer in Maryland and specializes in the design of HVAC systems for healthcare facilities. Jennifer is a former president of the Baltimore Chapter ASHRAE and currently serves as the chapter's historian. At the society level, she serves on the nominating committee and is a member and leader of several technical committees.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Hi, I'm Katherine Hammack. I am an ASHRAE Member, an ASHRAE, have the Distinguished Service Award. I've been a director at large. I'm currently chairing ASHRAE 189.1 Committee and I'm on the ASHRAE Decarbonization Task Force. So I guess you could say I'm a consummate volunteer and I'm joined by Jen Leach. Jen, why don't you introduce yourself?

    Jennifer Leach:

    Hey, I'm Jen Leach. I'm from Baltimore, Maryland, also a avid ASHRAE volunteer. I've served on standing committees like CEC conferences, the next positions. And I'm currently the programs chair for TC 6.1, which is the Hydronics TC. Yeah. So do a lot more than that. Katherine and I actually met on the Women in ASHRAE ad-hoc. Well, that's when we worked closely together on the Women in ASHRAE ad-hoc. So that was kind of the thing that sort of brought us together.

    Katherine Hammack:

    That's right. And how has ASHRAE helped your career? You've stuck with it for a while.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Well, I had a good ASHRAE mentor. We were talking about that this morning at the Women at ASHRAE breakfast. My ASHRAE mentor is my dad. So we worked locally in the Baltimore Chapter and I worked my way up through there. And the thing that I always liked about at ASHRAE and volunteering in general and really the roots of what my father taught me, was that you get what you give. So you give until it hurts and reap the reward. So that's true both locally and here at the society level, I found that as I progressed in my career, it's more exciting at the society level because you really feel like you're having an impact. The friends that we've made, the knowledge that we've learned, the knowledge that we've shared is probably one of the highlights of my career. It's certainly the things that I'll remember when I get to the point where I'm not remembering things so well anymore.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Well, I think it's interesting because you started at a local level and then went to national. I actually started at a national level. I was working for Carrier Air-Conditioning and they wanted you to be involved in technical committees. And so I started that and then I found out there were local chapters. I'm like, "Wow, that's amazing."

    Jennifer Leach:

    Right. "So I can do this locally too." All right!

    Katherine Hammack:

    That's right. And so I moved to Arizona and worked my way up through the chairs there and became the chapter president and then went back and got more involved at a national level. So I think you can do both.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Absolutely. There are definitely people who come, as Bill Bahnfleth once said to me, the journey is not important. It's the destination, it just matters that you got here. Right?

    Katherine Hammack:

    Absolutely. And I agree with you on being a consummate volunteer is believing that you should give back to the profession. I think we learn in college, but we also learn in the profession and we also learn by sharing.

    Jennifer Leach:

    For sure. And you know this because on me personally, but sharing is a thing that I do a lot, is something I learn to do personally because I find it cathartic. And I heard someone once say that you should share your story in a way that both emancipates you and empowers others. So I do it on a very personal level as well, but recently I've been doing it on a professional level too. And I found that particularly younger people really respond well when some of them that they look up to shows a level of vulnerability, they think, "Oh wow, you're human."

    Katherine Hammack:

    That's right.

    Jennifer Leach:

    "You're a person too."

    Katherine Hammack:

    So how do you differentiate between that and mentorship?

    Jennifer Leach:

    I'm not even really sure. Funny story with a young woman in a national capital chapter, you may know her name's Laura Morder and I've known her since she was a student at Penn State. And a few years ago prior to one of the annual conferences, they did—went to several YEA members. And they said, "Tell us who your ASHRAE mentor is." And all of a sudden on LinkedIn or something, I see this video of Laura Morder saying that I'm her ASHRAE mentor. And I was like, "Really? I didn't even know." So I think that just being visible and accessible is the key to mentorship. And when you open yourself up for that opportunity, whether you're giving it or receiving it, then friendships are formed and bonds are made and you meet people that you can be acquainted with the rest of your life.

    Katherine Hammack:

    No, you're absolutely right. And I agree with you because I think sometimes people think mentoring has to be really, really formalized, and official and named and formal meetings. And I find the informal mentoring—

    Jennifer Leach:

    Yeah. I call it organic. Like stuff that just grows. Right?

    Katherine Hammack:

    And it can be simple like, "Hey, could you join me for a cup of coffee? I'd like to ask you a question about…" That's a form of mentoring.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Right. Sure. Yeah. Or I'm on 189.1 and I know that you have chaired Hydronics TC, we need some feedback on something like this. So when you have those relationships with people, it's way easy to get that sort of happy feedback from people.

    In your ASHRAE career, Katherine. How's that changed? How's that volunteer experience changed from, or has it, from early on in your career to now?

    Katherine Hammack:

    I think that it is easier to volunteer in ASHRAE now—

    Jennifer Leach:

    No doubt.

    Katherine Hammack:

    —because ASHRAE's more diverse.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Yeah. Absolutely.

    Katherine Hammack:

    I see ASHRAE welcoming diversity of age with YEA, diversity of gender, diversity of background. I really enjoy the international members who come in and say, "Have you considered..." Matter of fact, before I sat down for this, the gentleman who was walking with me was talking about work being done in the UK on decarbonization and, "Have you considered..." And so we bring together the ideas and concepts that we each encounter from a wide variety of lives and backgrounds. And I think ASHRAE members are more welcoming and enjoy that networking, to have overused term, that comes from bringing in ideas and concepts from different experiences.

    Jennifer Leach:

    And that really is at the heart part of the DEI initiative. It is so much easier to advance a thought or an idea when you open your mind and you're welcome to something new and different, when it's the same people in the room every time, you're just kind of recycling the old idea a hundred times over.

    Katherine Hammack:

    You're absolutely right. A homogenous team is going to come up with homogenous ideas, a diverse team's going to come up with diverse ideas.

    Jennifer Leach:

    It really is the only way. And that seems to be a relatively new concept within ASHRAE, at least outwardly, right? A relatively new concept. But much needed, and I feel excited about it because I think that's setting us up for the future, right? Like we're going to get some really great stuff done and we have some hard work ahead of us.

    Katherine Hammack:

    We do.

    Jennifer Leach:

    And our Decarb Task Force. We get a lot of hard work.

    Katherine Hammack:

    We do. But a lot of it's, what, back to communication, that we need to communicate. And I think as engineers it's always question things, but I've also coached some members of my team that ask questions frequently, don't assume. And there's always that assume, when you assume you make an ass of you and me.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Exactly. Everybody knows that one, don't they?

    Katherine Hammack:

    Everybody knows that one. That's right. And so you can't assume you need to question, I don't want someone to start a project assuming that they heard what I said, because I might not have communicated the intent.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Or just question what you said to be like, "Are you sure we want to go in that direction? What about this?" Use your engineering brain, that's what they trained you to do, to be—

    Katherine Hammack:

    That's right.

    Jennifer Leach:

    —curious and ask questions and think of better solutions and most people, I think, anybody who's a truly good leader, respects that in somebody. I'm a challenger. My poor husband, he's like tired of being challenged sometimes like, "Can't you do us say yes and go along Jen." "No, no, I can't. I apologize." But you know what I mean, I don't mind challenging things and I don't mind being challenged because if I can't defend it to you, then it's probably not worth the paper it's written on. Right?

    Katherine Hammack:

    Or if you didn't understand it, what is this, why is this? Where is this? The who, what, where, when and why.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Let's dissect it.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Yes. Let's dissect it, but also check in. As you're working on a project or any idea, I think you need to be comfortable and doing a check. Am I on the right path?

    Jennifer Leach:

    For sure.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Is this the direction that you were thinking needed to be taken in this project?

    Jennifer Leach:

    Yeah. For sure, because you don't want to go too far down the wrong path. Right? We have all done that at least once and shout out to all the young people out there. Stop, check where you are, but when you fail, because you will, it's a part of the process, remind the person that's coming up behind you, that "Yeah, I once failed at that." Because they want the comfort of knowing that if I make a mistake, the whole world's not going to collapse around me. Right? Mistakes are part of the process. So we try to obviously limit the amount of mistakes we make because in our business, mistakes take time and time is money. But as part of the learning process and when you're giving that regular feedback with people, when you're communicating on a cadence that is healthy and productive, right? Like once a week, every— once a day, end of the day, whatever team you're working on, how often are we going to communicate?

    Katherine Hammack:

    And by the way, we're only human and we are not computers. We are not robots. And you need to inject that at humanity into it.

    Jennifer Leach:

    For sure.

    Katherine Hammack:

    And question and collaborate. And Jen, when we were sitting down, I guess it was two days ago, we were both sharing our personal lives a bit and talking about the balance because at one time both you and I were single parents with kids and working full-time jobs and consummate volunteering within ASHRAE and figured out how to do it. How did you figure out that balance or that imbalance that you have to get comfortable with?

    Jennifer Leach:

    I think that's probably the better word. I don't even know if I really ever have, I do what's needed in the moment. Right? A lot of times I know that and in my new relationship, my new husband, he knows that my career is a part of my identity. It's who I am. And when things are going crazy around me, kids are screaming, whatever else, I'll take a work call in a minute because it makes me feel grounded. It makes me use my brain and stop feeling emotional, because kids can get you emotional. I have three of them and two of them are twins. So I'm like, they challenge you, right?

    Katherine Hammack:

    Absolutely.

    Jennifer Leach:

    ASHRAE and work really have always kind of been my happy place. It's where I go and find sort of peace and comfort. Now I don't mean to say that I don't appreciate my children. I really do. I'm looking at everybody around me, like, "Please, I love my kids, they're the best." They get that time, that one on one mom time, but I want to be the sort of mom that has all of these other things that are important to her and not just a mom. So that way my sons know that this is what a wife and this is what a mother is. It's not necessarily somebody who just sits there with you all day long. There are many different types of moms. There are many different types of workers and everything else. So this is kind of the message I like to send to my kids.

    Katherine Hammack:

    And you are an ASHRAE kid.

    Jennifer Leach:

    I was.

    Katherine Hammack:

    You grew up in ASHRAE and we do have quite a few multi-generations. And I've seen some ASHRAE members bring their kids. My kids have been to ASHRAE meetings. It's just part of your identity. So I was joking about work-life balance or work-life imbalance, the things that you have to be comfortable with. Nothing's ever going to be perfect. I think one of the things I really early on figured out is the house is never going to be clean. There's always going to be some disruption there and I've got to be okay with that.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Right.

    Katherine Hammack:

    You can't settle for perfection, whether it's in your work life or in your personal life. If you set yourself up for failure, by assuming you need perfection, then you're always going to be disappointed.

    ASHRAE Journal:

    Thanks for listening to the ASHRAE Journal podcast. We want your ideas. What topics do you want to hear about and who do you want to hear them from? Email us your ideas at podcast@ASHRAE.org, that's podcast@ASHRAE.org. Let's get back to the episode.

    Katherine Hammack:

    What advice, when you think about this, what advice can you give to someone who is starting out their ASHRAE journey, starting out their career? What do you think you wished a younger you knew?

    Jennifer Leach:

    I think the things that have made me better. So I look at it from that way, are that vulnerability, the willingness to say, "I don't know." Or the willingness to share a failure, the willingness to be open and vulnerable and human, like we were saying. So we're in the business of engineering, but we're also in the business of people. So be human. And I think that really, it's the thing that has made my life easier, to know who I am and it takes a long time to know who you are. Right? And be kind to yourself while you're learning, that's the other advice, but I know who I am and I know what to expect from myself. And I know what I can't do. I've learned to say, no.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Well, it's interesting. I was talking to someone is they said, it's a soft no, it might be a “not now.” “Yes, that's fascinating. Yes, I'm interested in that project, that subject, volunteering, but I can't do it right now. Next year, I'm going to be in a different situation and I would love to.” So sometimes that balance, that being comfortable with where you are in your life is a “not now.”

    Jennifer Leach:

    Absolutely. To know what you have to give in the moment. Right? And maybe right now is not the time because you're on 189.1 and you're on the board and you're, and you're, and you're—

    Katherine Hammack:

    Yes, that's right.

    Jennifer Leach:

    So, "Oh my gosh, I would really love to do that, but not now." But there's also the, "That doesn't suit me at all. I understand that you want some help here, but I'm not your gal. Who you really need to go talk to is Katherine. I'm sure she can help you with this." Or whatever the case may be. Right? If you don't know, and it's not your thing, we're volunteers here in ASHRAE and find your passion and throw your heart into it. But don't make yourself and everybody else miserable by doing something that you're not really interested in. There's plenty to do.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Well, I liked your comment, find your passion, because that's how I got involved in ASHRAE to begin with. It was a subject matter area, for me, it was air-to-air energy recovery. It's a minute portion of the ASHRAE subject library, but I was really interested in it. I found there was a technical committee that was working on it. I stepped up and volunteered to chair a program. Next thing I know, I'm the program chair for the committee. So you volunteer and I think on your ASHRAE journey, you can be a corresponding member of a technical committee. You could say, "This is a subject area I'm interested in, can you send me information on what you're working on?" You can get involved in ASHRAE in many ways.

    Jennifer Leach:

    And now more so than ever, because so many things are virtual or hybrid or whatever. Look through that list. They're on the ASHRAE website, "What interests me?" And sit in on a meeting. And this was one of the things that we were saying the other night, what you'll find is you come sit the room and young women out there, sit at the table. There literally is a table if you're in the room, don't sit in the corner, sit at the table. And then you realize how much you do know. And then after a couple of years at sitting on an ASHRAE technical committee, all of the sudden you are the subject matter expert, then you're like, "Wow, look at me. I'm the subject matter expert." I have people who call me from literally in my ASHRAE community and the people that I've met through my career from across the country, because they think, "Oh, well, Jen's the boiler gal. I can give her that question." Shoot me an email, give you a phone call, whatever.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Well, and that's interesting about the whole ASHRAE family, because you develop this network of people that you might not know a lot about it, but you heard such and such at the cocktail reception, say something and you can point people in the right direction.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Right. Or I don't know who knows this, but I bet Katherine might know somebody who knows this.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Yes, that's right. And your network. And that's the thing about ASHRAE, even at a chapter level, is networking with people at that chapter. And I always tell people that when you're in a profession, you owe it to that profession to volunteer and give back. And that's how you learn to become a leader. You volunteer. And I think ASHRAE gives you that opportunity to practice speaking in front of large groups, whether it's even just introducing someone, get over your fear of speaking, it gives you the opportunity to write. It gives you the opportunity to organize.

    Jennifer Leach:

    I had a friend at the chapter level ones who said that going through the chairs in the Baltimore Chapter was like getting your MBA.

    Katherine Hammack:

    No, that's very good. I agree because you go through treasurer and you learn all sorts of things about running a business that you didn't know you didn't know

    Jennifer Leach:

    It's interesting to me because we share this ASHRAE experience, but you've got a lot of experience with other organizations outside of ASHRAE, different organizations. Like what did you bring from work with USGBC say, or what do you learn from ASHRAE that you think, "Wow, they could be doing this better." What kind of experiences have you had there?

    Katherine Hammack:

    Well, it was interesting. So I'm a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council and there are 15 of us sitting around, drinking beers, thinking we can change the world.

    Jennifer Leach:

    You were right. That's so exciting.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Yeah. It was amazing. But one of the things that we thought about early on is we don't want to write the standards, we want to point people to the standards. So I said, "Well, of course you have to point people to ASHRAE for indoor air quality for Standard 62. And you have to point them to 90.1 for energy efficiency. We shouldn't write anything on energy efficiency, other than go to 90.1 for energy efficiency. And if you're 10% better, that means you're more sustainable than someone who's just baseline 90.1. And the same with the Standard 62 for indoor air quality or Standard 55 for humidity levels, USGBC pointed to ASHRAE standards.

    But then I got to ASHRAE and ASHRAE members were saying that USGBC is in competition with ASHRAE. And I stood up and said, "No, we're not." And they said, "Well, there is no one from ASHRAE on USGBC." And I'm like, "Hang on a sec. That's me!” And I'm pointing everyone to it. It's a good relationship between the two organizations. So I think ASHRAE members need to think about how their standards can be used in partnership in concert with organizations and by the way, other organizations have great things to bring to ASHRAE. So I really am interested in the MOUs that have been formed between different organizations and ASHRAE, blending together the organizations, combining research efforts, combining efforts on drafting standards or guides.

    Jennifer Leach:

    I agree with you that the collaboration of working with other societies is imperative. There's only so many volunteers to go around, right? So we need to take advantage of that synergy.

    Katherine Hammack:

    And not be afraid. We need to be inclusive and bring people in. I always am entertained when there's an architect in the room because their perspective is just slightly different from that of an engineer. And I like 189.1 because we have environmentalists who are talking about native and adapted flora and native species. And then someone else we'll get into hydronics and talking about water and water efficient systems. And that there'll be someone else who's deep dive into energy and you go over the different subjects at 189 handles and they leverage information from different groups.

    Jennifer Leach:

    That's one of the cool things that ASHRAE has done. Recently, more multidisciplinary task groups and things like that, where we're sharing information instead of working in that silo approach. The opportunities to learn and to give back are endless. And every time I meet a young person in this industry, really just kind of encourage them, again, find your passion, do what you want to do and become that subject matter of expert because you can.

    Katherine Hammack:

    And tell your story.

    Jennifer Leach:

    And tell your story.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Tell your story. How did you get there? What's your journey been like? Because everyone's journey's different. But as you said, we end up at the same destination and I think all of us want to work to make the world a better place, work to improve the built environment. And that's one of the things I've been working on is the Decarbonization Task Force is we have to figure out how to work to mitigate climate change and to work to adapt to climate change.

    Jennifer Leach:

    And that's really kind of how, one of the ways I think you get kids excited about working in STEM-related fields and in the built environment in particular, we're saving the world or we're trying, and this is your opportunity because kids today, they want to know, they're very curious. I work with kids a lot. It's a big passion of mine also. Gosh, I have lots of passions, it goes around, doesn't it? But anyway, to work with kids and be a visible, confident role model because little girls need to see visible, confident women being engineers so that they can think, "I can be that." A friend of mine, Alexandra Knight, who has a program in the UK called Stemazing. She specializes in helping women become visible, confident role models. And it's the thing that's going to get more little girls in particular, but little boys too, in this business. And she says, "You can't be what you can't see."

    Katherine Hammack:

    That's right.

    Jennifer Leach:

    So you got to see it first. Be out there, be visible and be confident, and confidence is hard, but you'll get there.

    Katherine Hammack:

    You learn it. I think you gain confidence. And that's where I think our ASHRAE journey takes us is it gives you those tools. It gives you those abilities working your way at a local chapter or even at a national or an international level. It gives you the tools to equip you to help do your job better and to help be a more confident and successful person.

    Jennifer Leach:

    I kind of fell into this Stemazing thing and really to think that I have friends, women that are supporting me, literally around the world. It's cool. And really had it not been for my work in ASHRAE, I probably would've never found that. So it's good work, I think where we had the Women in ASHRAE Breakfast this morning and it's amazing to see so many women there from so many different backgrounds and that wouldn't have happened 20 years ago.

    Katherine Hammack:

    No, I remember when we had the first Women in ASHRAE Breakfast, we planned for 40 and 70 showed up.

    Jennifer Leach:

    And remember it was in that little teeny room in Chicago.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Yes. Down a back hallway. That was really hard to find.

    Jennifer Leach:

    You needed a map to get there.

    Katherine Hammack:

    70 people showed up.

    Jennifer Leach:

    That's right. They found it. We couldn't even hide it. Right?

    Katherine Hammack:

    That's right. Now, it was fantastic. And what it showed is that the networking is important. And you said to go into a meeting and see someone who looks like you, it helps. And I think that helps with the diversity equation for everyone. To see someone who's of the same gender or of the same ethnicity or of the same race or background, you are not alone.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Just like you walk into a room and it's filled with Penn Staters and I'm like, "People!" Those are my people, right? It's the same sort of connection that you make with somebody. I have something in common with that person and now I feel safe, right? So I can be vulnerable now, I can be open and honest. If you don't feel safe, you're not going to be any of those things. So it's our job to create that environment where people can feel safe and then—

    Katherine Hammack:

    And welcome.

    Jennifer Leach:

    That's right, exactly. We value your input and what you have to say, whether it's five years of experience or 50, whatever your experience level is, when you come into the room thinking, "I'm going to teach somebody something today and I'm going to learn something today." Those are, "I'm going to take away something and I'm going to give something." It's that give and take thing. It's back to what my dad told me when I was a little kid, you get what you give.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Well, it was fascinating to me. I walked into a seminar the other day and realize I had no clue what they were talking about. And I've been involved in ASHRAE a long time. And so when you realize there's things that you still don't know, that you can still learn, it makes it so much more rewarding to learn a little bit each time you attend an ASHRAE meeting.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Nothing will humble you faster than going to a conference paper session or a technical paper session where they're doing a presentation on research that they've done. And all of a sudden they're talking about this math that, yeah, you did that in college, but you've been trying to forget about it, right?

    Katherine Hammack:

    That's right.

    Jennifer Leach:

    It was traumatizing, differential equations, oh my goodness. Right? But it's amazing how they take that research and make it practical. It's that funding of the ASHRAE research and they present these papers at the conference and stuff. And then all of a sudden it's in Handbook or part of a standard or a test method of doing something, lots of testing of equipment and all that kind of stuff. So it's fascinating what you can take, that's super technical that becomes very practical.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Well, a lot of the seminars have case histories and I love listening to those case histories. It's back to telling the story, we need to become better storytellers. Like you said, talk about the goodness, the great work that happened, then talk about hiccups.

    Jennifer Leach:

    And people love those, they're some of the most attended seminars and workshops or whatever that they have at conferences, because people like to learn that way collaboratively. They really do and we do TC 1.7 is business, management and legal education and Mike Bilderbeck and Kristin Schaefer and I frequently do ethics case studies at the annual conferences. And we put up three NSPE ethical problems, dilemma, giving sort of limited information, but we say, "Okay, here's the situation, and here's the ethical dilemma, kind of what would you do?" And then people split up into groups of 10 and they discuss it amongst themselves. And we let them talk for about five or 10 minutes. And then we come back microphone to the group around and say, "Okay, was this ethical or unethical?" And they'll say, "Yeah, it's ethical because of this and that and the other thing." "No, it's not ethical because this or that and the other thing." The beauty of gray, right? It's really hard to say, but that room is packed every time because of the way that we're teaching. People love to learn in that environment.

    Katherine Hammack:

    I think that's the engineer in all of us. We love to learn.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Yeah, no doubt. Curiosity, how does this work? What's wrong with this? How can I fix it? How can I make it better?

    Katherine Hammack:

    I spent some time working in the army and we called it an after action report.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Oh, are you sure there wasn't an acronym for that?

    Katherine Hammack:

    Yes. It was an AAR. So you do an AAR, an after action report, and done that with some projects too. You do an after action report. What worked really well on this, that we should replicate, what didn't work so well so we should make sure to avoid that. And what did we learn from this? And you need to take the time to stop and think.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Stop and think, take a deep breath, breathing is always good.

    It's been great being here in Las Vegas, right? I'm thrilled to be back among my friends.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Well, and what's interesting is to be back face to face.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Although we learn in the seminars, we learn in the technical committees, we learn in these standing project committees. I think we learn in the hallway conversations, the cocktail hour conversations. It might sound geeky, but I was talking to someone about commissioning and we were talking the most fascinating information about commissioning. It was an education with a glass of wine in hand.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Sure. Right. Yeah. Some of the best learning can be done over a glass of wine.

    Katherine Hammack:

    Yes. It's nice to be back face to face. I hope that the pandemic doesn't linger and we're able to continue the networking, the sharing of stories and the learning and growing that comes from the conferences.

    Jennifer Leach:

    It's a great opportunity for us right now as members of ASHRAE, because unlike any other time in my career, people are talking about what we do. They're talking about indoor environmental quality, right? And we work in the built environment and it's an exciting opportunity for us to really engage everyone. Change your filters, open the windows, something—

    Katherine Hammack:

    Ventilation's important.

    Jennifer Leach:

    That's right. Yeah. Let's blow the dust off this joint. Right? I'm excited about where ASHRAE's moving forward and I hope that we can continue to have conferences face to face because they're better, I think.

    Katherine Hammack:

    And you can talk through a mask.

    Jennifer Leach:

    That's right. Exactly. You can talk through a mask, talking through a mask face to face is by far easier than Zoom anything. I read an article about this once, 10 people can talk at the same time and you can hear three conversations, but you can't do that virtually, you can't hear that. the brain is a very beautiful, complicated thing, but it's not capable of... I think, well, actually it's the technology that's not capable. We can hear it, but the microphones can’t pick it up.

    Katherine Hammack:

    That's right. That's right.

    Well, always good to see you, Jen.

    Jennifer Leach:

    Yeah. It's great to see you too, Katherine. Thanks.

    ASHRAE Journal:

    The ASHRAE Journal podcast team is editor John Falcioni; managing editor Mary Kate McGowan; producer and associate editor Chadd Jones; assistant editor Kaitlyn Baich; and associate editors Tani Palefski and Rebecca Matyasovski. Copyright ASHRAE. The views expressed in this podcast are those of individuals only and not of ASHRAE, its sponsors or advertisers. Please refer to ashrae.org/podcast for the full disclaimer.

     

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