ENGINEERING MONTH 2021 – MITCH SMITH
Engineering month is in full swing! Get to know our amazing engineers through our employee profiles. This week we want you to get to know Mitch Smith.
Tell us about your role and what it entails:
While over my time at Trane I have worn almost every hat imaginable, my role on paper is Controls Account Manager. I work with our customers (owners, engineers and contractors) to specify HVAC control systems to meet both their specific needs and the needs of the building they design, build, own and / or operate.
How did you decide which type of engineering to get into?
I owe everything to my physics teacher for encouraging me to go to the engineering outreach day halfway through Grade 12. I knew I liked mechanical things but didn’t know where to learn more about it until after that day. I submitted my university application the next day! Mechanical was always my preference (I like things that move), though I’d argue I spend a lot of time in the electrical world these days.
What do you like most about working in engineering?
There are two sides of this – first off, I love understanding and learning how the world around me works. As a kid I took apart far too many things I couldn’t put back together, largely to see what the insides contained. With the theory that I learned in university; I can at least explain to myself some of the decisions other engineers made during their design process. Secondly, I can take that learned knowledge to design systems as efficiently and effectively as possible. While being in a sales role tends to limit some of those design decisions, my conversations with consulting engineers in particular often dive deep into the weeds, so I need to have a firm grasp on both theory and application of different HVAC and HVAC control components. I love seeing something I worked with an engineer on show up on their construction drawings.
What types of challenges do you tend to encounter in your current role and how do you solve them?
Working in a sales role brings a lot of ‘soft skill’ challenges versus the typical ‘hard skill’ tools you learn in engineering. While you still need to know how to solve equations, select products for a certain application and speak theory about HVAC and HVAC controls, you also need to have the soft skills to converse with a wide variety of customers with varying degrees of friendliness to you and the company you represent. Nothing prepares you for walking into an engineer’s or contractor’s office and being met with crossed arms and hostile, one-word answers. So, summary; learning effective communication and how to diffuse uncomfortable situations has been a major opportunity for learning and growing in this role. I’ve met this with some reading and Googling, discussing with peers and lastly, trial by fire.
What sets Trane apart from other companies you’ve worked for?
I would say the people. Trane spends a lot of time and effort hiring and grooming great people, and it shows based on how many, and the strength of relationships I have with the team, both locally and remotely. If I run into a problem during a particular project, I know within a couple of calls, I can have the experience and wisdom of not only my local office, but all of Trane behind me to support me on whatever issue is at hand.
How do you contribute to the industry outside of work?
I have to say I haven’t been good with this as of late. I am a member of the local ASHRAE chapter and have recently joined the Board of Governors, but besides that, not much!
Get to know me:
Grew up in: Selkirk, a town about 15 minutes north of Winnipeg. I ride the fine line where I can vibe with both country and city folk.
Calls home: Winnipeg
Hobbies: I love being active, though as injuries stack up, some previous activities like basketball and volleyball have been replaced with some less intense sports, e.g. cycling, skiing, and rowing. I enjoy working around the house, and once I’m spent for the day, I enjoy getting the Xbox warmed up to online game with the guys (thanks Covid!)
Favorite pet: My dog Mia, who’s staring at me while I write this.
Favorite place to be when you’re not at work: Nowhere in particular if there is something to keep me active and some sort of adventure.
Superhero you would like to be: Hmmm, tough one. I’m going with Iron Man. Reason being, he can design some sort of technology to be equal to any other superhero’s powers.
Least favorite chore: No question, hand-washing dishes. My best friend and I nearly ended our friendship because of it, which he poked fun at during his best man speech at my wedding.
Favorite band: If you ever want to channel my inner air guitar and potentially some karaoke, throw on some Boston.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? I don’t have an inspiring answer for this; I think one of my grandparents, to talk more about our family history and ‘the old country’.