Pipe runs, diameter, Delta-T. This is just a small sampling of the language of our industry. It is a language that makes sense to us. Eventually, we have to turn that language around so the rest of the world can understand what we are talking about.

I have been thinking a lot about language during a busy October of work travel. First, I was able to visit a state I had never been before — Utah. As soon as I sat down with Provo-headquartered Mark Makin, P.E., of Royal Engineering and pme’s 2017 Mechanical Engineer of the Year, he mentioned to me how during a religious mission he learned to speak three — including Tagalog — of the more than 100 dialects used in the Philippines.

Makin also has a colleague who speaks Tagalog, so if they want to have an incognito chat in the office, they have a language only they can speak. For the full profile on Makin and his 21-year industry career, be sure to this issue’s cover story.

Once we moved on and Makin began discussing the projects he has under his belt and on his desk, I walked away impressed. It is a real skill to be able to sit down with me, a journalist by trade who constantly wants to understand the math and science behind engineering, and break the information down so it is easily understandable.

I tip my hat to Makin and hope you take the time to read his interesting story in these pages.


Oh, Canada

Next, I went to Montreal, Quebec, Canada for the 2017 ASPE Technical Symposium. I had never been to a primarily French-speaking country and let’s just say that my two years of French in high school did not help much during my five days in this beautiful city. I’m thankful that the hospitality staff, waiters, bartenders and more make English a priority.

This was the first time the organization had taken its biannual event across international borders and it was a massive success. ASPE’s Executive Director and CEO Billy Smith reports this event is the second-highest-attended symposium in its history. For a full report on the 2017 ASPE Technical Symposium, please turn to page 38 of this issue.

ASPE had a “Designing Across Borders” track during its three-day educational session events, featuring three courses that were in French.

Expanding the scope and reach of ASPE is an important element. We have a lot of issues in the plumbing and mechanical world here in the U.S., but we can’t take an eye off the rest of the world. Whether it is a new product or technology, some great ideas are being implemented outside the U.S., and it was a prudent measure for ASPE to take a major event such as the Technical Symposium across the border.

I spoke with many Technical Symposium attendees who appreciated having the chance to come to a city that doesn’t typically make the industry event rounds. No offense to Orlando, but we’ve all been there enough for events — or fun, family vacations.

I hope other organizations follow ASPE’s model whenever they get a chance. Everyone needs to get out of their comfort zone once in a while.


This article was originally titled “Language lessons” in the November 2017 print edition of PM Engineer.