I chat with people at social functions and inevitably the “so what do you do” question comes up.   When I respond that I work for an engineering firm, the follow-up inquiries usually run the same course:

Person: “Oh, engineering,” they say with a knowing nod. “What type of engineering?”
Me:We specialize in MEP and civil.”
Person: “Ah, civil engineering,” more nodding.  “So, like bridges and dams”
Me: “No, primarily site civil, like stormwater, walkways, parking lots…that sort of thing

Deflated but not deterred, they forge ahead.

Person: “What’s MEP?”
Me: “Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems design”

Now here is where you can almost hear the static white noise and the faint chirp of crickets swirl in the air.  The friendly cocktail banter had started out so well.  My new acquaintance had visions of big steel girders and muscle bound construction projects that they were eager to hear more about.  I stopped them dead in their tracks; after all, MEP just isn’t as flashy as say…engineering the space shuttle.

MEP Systems

MEP Engineering

MEP Systems

So what does that say about the MEP engineers that create a building’s “inner beauty”?  Are they forgotten?  I have friends that would opine that architecture is the creation of art, which in some cases is undoubtedly true.  But imagine those buildings without HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems; they would be a sea of unoccupied shells.

I would argue that an MEP engineer is akin to an internist; providing clinical expertise in comprehensive building systems design.  The vascular surgeon that maps a structure’s circulation. Or the neurologist that insures the electrical synapses are firing and the brain and mechanicals are working correctly.  The MEP experts that have rewritten the old adage which now contends that beauty is NOT only skin deep.

Systems engineering transcends all building structures.  So the next time you come in out of the bitter cold to enjoy the warmth of your home, or take a shower, you’re enjoying the benefits of systems that were dreamed up by an MEP engineer.

Many Household Projects Require Engineering

There are any number of household projects that require approval.  So if you are working on remodeling your home or business, you will probably need a permit. If you need a permit, in all likelihood you will need a stamped architectural and/or engineers drawing.

Therefore, before embarking on a building addition or improvement, check with your local building department for the do’s and don’ts of your upcoming project.