The importance of mechanical engineering in HVAC

Mechanical engineers are involved in the design, testing and operation of many products you use every day, including the Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning systems in your home, car, office or hotel, all places where a comfortable, productive environment must be created. Because HVAC is the main force to create a great indoor (and even outdoor) environment, excellence must be demanded from the first mechanical engineering design meeting to the final system balancing.

Mechanical engineering design that lacks excellence, may display quirks that subtly announce a need for HVAC system improvements. Have you seen people bring space heaters, long sleeve shirts, and blankets to the office in the summer time? Have you had papers blown off your desk when the Heating or Air Conditioning system kicks in or maybe you’ve spent the night in a hotel where the air conditioner wakes you several times during the night with noise and gale force winds? Do the servers in your server clean room need to be taken off-line for “dusting” on a regular basis? These are a few quirks that are small irritants, but they are irritants that detract from an otherwise productive or restful environment.

Good mechanical engineering design, in contrast, is more than making lines on a drawing matchup, it’s about putting a system in place that operates efficiently and effectively with minimal user input or maintenance. A good designer uses mathematics, physics, core mechanical engineering design principles (solid mechanics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer) along with real world experience from the school of hard knocks, to design a system that keeps a building’s occupants comfortable and equipment rooms cool and clean.

While a less than stellar system design has quirks alerting observant occupants to the system’s shortcomings, a great system gets lost in the background as it works completely unnoticed to create a comfortable space. Occupants who benefit from a stellar design, learn to expect a comfortable nights sleep, a full workday in the office never adjusting a thermostat, never picking up papers blown to the floor, and never hearing strange noises from the bowels of the building.

This level of “quirk free” mechanical engineering design will always utilize the core engineering principles outlined earlier, but will also incorporate small, almost unnoticed, finishing touches of excellence expected in fine art, resulting in an office without space heaters or blankets, with papers that stay on the desk and a lack of strange noises coming from the bowels of the building, in short, a comfortable, productive work environment.

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