Engineers Week is a time to celebrate the work of our talented engineers and to inspire the next generation of innovators. This week we have been featuring a few of our Cyclone Energy Group team members. In keeping with this year’s theme, “Imagining Tomorrow”, we asked them to share their thoughts on how they are imagining the future.
We’ll end the week with a feature of Benjamin Skelton, President & Founder of Cyclone Energy Group. Benjamin founded Cyclone in 2012, after working as a design consulting engineer for ten years, with a vision of making the world more efficient. He established Cyclone to provide a unique service to help design, build and operate high-performance buildings. His background in design and experience with solving complex issues has allowed him to build a company that challenges the built environment to explore new ways to save resources. Benjamin served ASHRAE, a 57,000 member International engineering society, as the Director and Regional Chair of Region VI from 2016 to 2019. He has contributed to several technical committees that have helped establish important industry standards and guidelines, most notably areas of expertise focused on commissioning and refrigerated cold storage. In 2013 he co-authored the first guideline for modeling refrigerated cold storage facilities for LEED Certification for the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW) and International Association for Cold Storage Construction. (IACSC)When Ben isn’t running Cyclone you’ll likely find him running a road race. While earning his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering he was also competing in track and field and cross country for the Iowa State Cyclones (get the company name now?). He has since competed in seven marathons including Chicago, Paris and Boston, many half marathons and other distances as well as two Ironman triathlons in Madison Wisconsin. When he’s not working or running, he enjoys cooking, smoking meat on the Big Green Egg and spending time with his two children, Chase and Betsy.
- Why did you want to be an engineer? When I was in high school, I wanted to be an architect and design buildings. But I learned that being an architect requires artistic abilities, which I came to realize I lack. So I went to camp for those considering engineering and found that I really enjoyed solving problems. Engineering comes in lots of forms, and as I navigated college courses, thermodynamics and building systems I found fulfilled that architectural interest I had.
- What is your coolest project experience? I’ve worked on some really amazing projects throughout my career. Supertall high rise buildings, state-of-the-art laboratories, innovative schools, historic buildings and a lot of messy retrofits. But a couple that stand out the most are the Walgreens Zero Energy store in Evanston and the McDonald’s Zero Energy store at Disney in Florida. Both combined a variety of cutting-edge technology and pushed systems not typically found in retail. What makes both particularly impactful, is that they bring sustainable buildings into the view of consumers and not just design/construction professionals.
- How are you imagining tomorrow? Over a decade ago, visionary goals of zero energy buildings by 2030 and zero carbon buildings by 2050 were established. Major Cities such as Chicago and New York developed plans around these goals and with less than nine years left until the first benchmark date, a lot of work has yet to be done. However looking back, the potential energy of the early 2000’s is now kinetic energy (ask an engineer what that means.) While it may not feel like we’re making progress every day, in the macro view we’ve made huge strides. Also when I imagine tomorrow, I imagine engineering as being more inclusive of ideas and perspectives from those whose voices haven’t been heard. More perspective promotes more opportunity for greater innovation in creating a resilient and sustainable world. The fact that there is a disproportionate amount of women in engineering means that there is a missing perspective. My goal is to encourage girls to discover and pursue engineering and to support women engineers so they can persist in this field.
Happy Engineers Week from Cyclone Energy Group!