December 23, 2019
The wait is over for Chris Maks and Jake Buckmiller. The two #TeamTSP members took the eight-hour, two-part examination to become Professional Engineers in October, and in December they both learned they had passed.
Each man has been assigned a registration number and received the official certificates.
After spending weeks studying before the exams, both men found themselves with a lot of free time to fill while waiting for the results. For Jake, that meant starting to focus on another milestone in his life: the arrival of his first child in May 2020.
“We’ve been doing a lot of stuff like day-care visits,” he said. “And we purchased a crib that I have to put together.”
The weeks of study was a time to return to the fundamentals he had learned in college, Chris said. “In our day-to-day work, we’re not actually doing all the thermodynamic calculations,” he said. “We use software programs that do the calculations for us. But for the tests, you need to relearn all the fundamental components and assumptions.”
Chris, who graduated from South Dakota State University with a degree mechanical engineering, said several recent projects confirmed to him that he had made the right career choice. One was the Donald Young Center on the Black Hills State University campus, where an ice-storage system was used to cool the building.
“That project was really the first I got that I had the reins on,” he said. “I took the main design effort. I had some help from the senior engineers in our office, but I did most of the construction administration work. It was a fairly out-there system that we don’t do on a regular basis, so I had to learn the design theory behind ice storage in order to make it fit our application.”
Another meaningful project was the as-yet-unbuilt Sturgis Brewing Company.
“We had to really get into learning how a brewery works, the chemistry and the process behind brewing beer,” he said. “It was the definition of engineering, using physics and thermodynamics to determine what is happening in the brewing of beer and then coming up with solutions. You don’t have a step-by-step process, but you’re becoming familiarized with it and designing for the client. It was just an interesting project. Who doesn’t like breweries?”
At one point, Jake considered going into medicine. He even took an internship where he spent two hours every other day watching surgery. Somewhere during that semester, however, he realized he was bored. Now he finds satisfaction working on projects involving health care, such as the new Sanford Health clinic near the Sanford Pentagon.
“I didn’t go into medicine, but this gives me the opportunity to build facilities for those who do go into medicine,” said Jake, who graduated from SDSU with a degree in electrical engineering. “I know how the pieces and parts come together.”
Neither Chris nor Jake intends to stop with the initials P.E. behind their names. Chris is interested in pursuing LEED certification, while Jake wants to expand his lighting expertise.
“There are people in our Sioux Falls office that are LEED certified, and we’re always calling on them if we’re getting a LEED project, which doesn’t happen often,” Chris said. “But it’s another potential certification good to have in your back pocket if you need it.”
Jake would like to become Lighting Certified, joining electrical engineer Kelli Osterloo in that specialty.
“Lighting is probably one of the areas I enjoy most in design,” Jake said, “so I’d like to develop that more. But that won’t have as much pressure on it. The job doesn’t depend on getting an LC, but a PE is a big hurdle in your career.”
Chris also has thought about Certified Energy Manager certification, saying expertise in that area could be helpful when pursuing projects on university campus or hospitals.