I have to give a big shoutout to my alma mater, Hoboken, N.J.-based Stevens Institute of Technology, for winning the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Congratulations, students and faculty!

Yes, I do feel proud that my alma mater won top honors. I have been following the school’s progress during the competition on the alumni website for the past two years.

There are many colleges and universities that compete in the Solar Decathlon. Since its inception, there have been 130 collegiate teams.

As the title denotes, there are 10 areas of competition for the Solar Decathlon, which are:

  • Architecture;
  • Market appeal;
  • Engineering;
  • Communications;
  • Affordability;
  • Comfort zone;
  • Appliances;
  • Home life;
  • Commuting; and
  • Energy balance.

It is a biennial competition, hence all the teams have been working hard for the last two years on their solar homes. The next competition will take place in 2017.

One of the interesting parts of the Solar Decathlon is it has a building code it uses. Included in the Solar Decathlon Building Code are plumbing and HVAC requirements. The teams are required to design and build their homes in accordance with this building code. Many sections in the building code reference the ICC International Residential Code. This helps the students become well-versed in the IRC.

It is great these young engineering students are learning early on the importance of knowing and following the code. Thus, after graduation as they enter the engineering profession, they will be well on their way to dealing with the ins and outs of the code.

This past June I attended my 40th class reunion at Stevens. Nariman Farvardin, the president of Stevens, presented an outlook for the campus and the future of engineering. He had nothing but glowing remarks for the Stevens Solar Decathlon team. At the time, no one knew who was going to win this year’s competition.

I spoke with Nariman after the presentation. The support he provides for the engineers of the future is fantastic. While some question the future of our profession, after visiting my alma mater I can say we are in good hands.

If you are not familiar with the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, I would encourage you to check out the website. The various colleges sponsoring teams are always looking for mentors in the profession.

So lend a hand if you can. I had the opportunity to assist a team a few years ago. Working with these young students is amazing.


Sad news

On a sadder note, my good friend, Tim Smith, FASPE, died in October. Tim was well-liked and an asset to the plumbing engineering profession. He had passion and was an enthusiastic volunteer. He was from the Chicago area and served many terms as president of ASPE’s Chicago chapter.

Many who knew Tim realized he had a true zest for life. He was a very happy-go-lucky guy who loved to sit and have a drink or bite to eat with you. He always had time for his fellow engineers.

I knew Tim as a serious, dedicated and smart plumbing engineer. At an early age, he along with two partners formed the engineering firm Metro Design. Tim stayed as a partner of the firm for many years, leaving just recently to start another engineering firm.

You may recall having read some of Tim’s articles in pme. He would occasionally submit always well-written technical articles. He also presented a number of training programs.

I had the pleasure of serving on the ASPE Board of Directors with Tim. When I was president of ASPE, Tim was the Region 5 director. He went on to become vice president, technical – a position that is one step below president. This was a position well-suited for Tim since he was a master in technical issues. Tim could always get things done.

At the end of his vice president term, he stepped down because of medical issues. Tim had been fighting health issues for a good part of his adult life. About six weeks before Tim passed away, he called me. We had been working together on a project. He told me that the doctors had given him bad news - he had three weeks to three months left to live. He said he was going to put things in order and close his company. He didn’t make it to the three-month mark.

Tim was only 53 years old when he died. He was way too young to die. My heart goes out to his wife Monica and his two daughters.  He will be missed in the plumbing engineering profession.


Code front

As I write this column, the ICC still hasn’t figured out what to do following its technical difficulties. As you recall, ICC had a major glitch at the code hearings when its electronic voting devices failed to produce correct results. I would hope that by the time you read this column, they will have figured out what to do.

The only statement issued so far is that online voting would be delayed and an email would be sent out when cdpACCESS was available for voting. In addition to the voting on cdpACCESS, you also can view some, or all, of the code hearings from Long Beach, Calif. Hopefully there will be more to report regarding the ICC code cycle next month.

If you haven’t submitted your code changes to IAPMO, it is time to get them finished. The deadline for code changes to the 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code and 2018 Uniform Mechanical Code is Jan. 4, 2016. All code changes must be submitted electronically. If you miss the deadline, the next code you can submit a change to will be the 2021 code. That sounds so far away. So get those changes submitted quickly.

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a happy and prosperous New Year. I hope you can spend some time during the holiday season with family and friends.


This article was originally titled “Congratulations, Stevens!” in the December 2015 print edition of pme.