Practical and persistent

Licensed professional engineer Neal R. Kuula brings practicality to design and an understanding of the client's needs and requirements.

03/16/2011


Neal R. Kuula, PE, LEED AP, senior engineer/project manager, GRAEF, MilwaukeeWho: Neal R. Kuula, PE, LEED AP

What: Senior Engineer/Project Manager, GRAEF

Where: Milwaukee

About: Neal is a licensed professional engineer with 22 years of experience in the engineering, architecture, and construction industry. As an electrical engineer, he has served as lead engineer and project manager for numerous commercial, retail, restaurant, residential, medical, high-rise, and performing arts projects. His experience also includes performing property condition assessments and serving as an owner’s representative for construction projects. With a diverse background of experience, Neal brings a practicality to design and an understanding of the client’s needs and requirements.

Q. When you first wanted to be something in life, what was it?

A. I always wanted to go into music, to become a famous guitarist or to be a member of the greatest rock band ever.

Q. What changed your path? Or what helped keep you on that path?

A. I found out very early that my musical aptitude was almost nonexistent, so on to engineering.

Q. What is working well in the engineering profession today?

A. I am a big believer in cross-training between disciplines. I have always encouraged our electrical engineers to become familiar with mechanical design and likewise have the mechanical disciplines learn some electrical. I am not sure how much this is happening with companies across the board, but in the firms that have used this approach, quality control has improved as well as communication between the disciplines.

Q. What is the biggest challenge for you in your job?

A. Keeping clients satisfied is always the first and foremost concern in our industry. We have to balance meeting the project budget while providing a high-quality product in a timely fashion.

Q. Who has mentored you in your engineering profession, and what have you taken away from this relationship?

A. My previous employer, John Kowalski, has played the largest part in the development of my career. The technical expertise conveyed through the years has been invaluable, but I would say that it has been the business aspect of the profession where John has provided the greatest insight and where I have excelled the most. As engineers we know how to design a system, but we do not always know how to influence clients, manage people, and generally run the day-to-day operations of the business. Working with John, I have had the opportunity to experience all of these things. From this experience I have gained the knowledge of what works and what does not in order to run a successful business.

Q. What one thing is missing from engineering education?

A. Practical application of what we have learned is the key to our success. Most programs are very good at teaching engineers theory and crunching numbers, but when it comes time to apply the skills, our younger engineers are at a disadvantage. I was fortunate enough to start my career in the contracting world where a large amount of my time was spent in the field and I was able to experience, firsthand, how to apply my education to real-life scenarios. I have always felt that field work, as part of the engineering curriculum, would be invaluable to new a new engineer.

Q. How would your coworkers or clients describe you?

A. Personable and reliable.

Q. What trait or habit from your youth have you brought into your professional life?

A. I would say persistence has been the one thing that has carried me through the years.

Q. What life adventure is still on your list?

A. Travel. The world has so much to offer with all of its magnificent places and cultures. There is just not enough time to experience everything.

Q. What one word best describes you?

A. Genuine.

Q. What makes you laugh?

A. What makes me laugh is a good comedy with simple humor. We tend to get caught up in the all of the seriousness of life. Sometimes you just need turn it off and enjoy the basics.

Q. What do you wonder about?

A. Given the economic downturn of the past few years, many companies have had to change how they normally do business and were forced to become more lean and creative. I think we can now expect the difficulties of acquiring new business as a new norm for the industry. Ultimately, I wonder how all these changes will alter the “whole” of our industry as we begin to settle into these new methods.

Q. Where is the best place you’ve ever been, and who were you with?

A. Paris. It is a wonderful city with lots of culture and history. I and my girlfriend Cathy went for a week in the spring a few years ago. A week was definitely not enough time to take in all that there was to offer, so we look forward to a return trip in the near future.

Q. What do you want to learn more about?

A. I would like to learn a new language. Since we are becoming more international in our commerce and industry, the ability to communicate more effectively with the world is essential.



The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me