• Swapp

Summer of Love Pipedreams - Chapter 3 in a Series of Blog Posts

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

As a young person in San Francisco during the late 60's, the summer of love was in the air and I began my first years at university dreaming of being a musician. I played in a rock ‘n roll band and studied music theory (more difficult than mechanical engineering by the way!). My father, who worked as a plumber, told me during the summers when I worked for him that being a musician was no way to earn a living. I took his advice and became an engineer instead.

When I began my career as a young Mechanical Engineer fresh out of college, MEP and HVAC were pretty far down on the list of “sexy” engineering and construction fields. I can’t say that much has changed in this regard, because MEP and HVAC construction builds systems that are generally out-of-sight behind walls, above ceilings and below the floor. But every owner knows how critical it is that the building’s MEP systems are designed and constructed with quality and within budget.

Defining the MEP Roadmap of Swapp's Planning Solution

Let me highlight just one way that I spend some of my Swapp hours, even if at first glance it may raise some eyebrows. This is because I must admit that I spend considerable time “just” talking and asking and answering questions with Swapp people and industry experts. What do I talk about? One thing I do is explain the level of detail we at Swapp need to offer to satisfy the needs of potential customers.

Here are two high-level examples. At a technical engineering level, I guide answering the question of what kind of quantitative data should our AI algorithms use to generate a variety of engineering design options. For the business needs of our customers, I’m working on what cost estimates provided at each stage of design will be most beneficial and can be delivered in a fast time frame.

How do I know what Swapp’s customers and potential customers need? I know because they are like the many owners, subcontractors and (I’m proud to say) the small number of general contractors with whom I’ve worked for the past nearly 40 years.

Working As an MEP Engineer in the Bay Area


There are a number of exceptional general contractors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I started at one, then had a long tenure at another where I grew the MEP department until I managed a large team of MEP experts and engineers. I then did stints at two spin-offs from that company and was a project manager on the owner’s side at a very, very, well-known company that built a “spaceship” building just a short distance northwest of San Jose, CA.

I wrote that I’m proud of having been at a small number of GCs, and built enduring business relationships. There are some fundamental differences between software development and brick-and-mortar construction, but there are some things that are the same: quality, customer-focus and timeliness.

The San Francisco Bay Area is a highly competitive market. When I found colleagues dedicated to doing things right on every project and for every customer, and where we made decisions and took actions with a sense of urgency, I stayed and contributed to developing MEP construction into a capability highly valued by the pharmaceutical, healthcare (hospitals), semiconductor and other high-tech industries. Of course, today’s big tech players want their headquarter offices to have this same level of quality achieved in tight timeframes and closely managed budgets.

The next post will be the last one in this series, and I have to say that I saved the best for last. Thank you for reading this far, see you next week.

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