What I learn each year from the MEP Giants
The 100 consulting engineer firms that make the MEP Giants list each year can teach us all a few tricks of the trade.
The annual MEP Giants program is one of the most interesting programs we conduct at Consulting-Specifying Engineer. Not only do we gather thousands of data points (you should see the spreadsheets!), but we also gather information that cannot be quantified.
Take the project profiles, for example. We ask all firms interested in being considered for the MEP Giants to tell us about three projects they’re working on, and then we ask each of the 100 firms that makes it on the list to give us the details: What type of building project is it? What were the budget and timeline? And most importantly, what were the challenges and solutions?
You can read these projects for yourself at www.csemag.com/giants, but let me give you the broad overview: Our engineers are kicking butt. The variety of projects alone is staggering. These projects span the gamut: hospitals, data centers, airports, schools, office buildings … the list goes on.
The “kicking butt” part comes in with the solutions to the challenges faced on each project. The No. 1 challenge the MEP Giants firms indicate they face is the economy's impact on the construction market. When asked a similar question in other research studies we conduct, engineers will answer that they’re not given an adequate budget for good design. Money aside, the engineering firms you’ll read about in these project profiles are coming up with savvy, sophisticated, and spendthrift solutions to a variety of engineering problems.
Another thing I learn each year is that engineers are constantly evolving. It’s the nature of the beast for a consulting firm to morph to meet customer needs, but I’m amazed at how fluid some firms have become. Adding an international division, for example, instantly brings on new challenges. While not every MEP Giants firm is doing work outside the United States, many are, and some have expanded into the fastest-growing building regions in the world, such as Asia and the Middle East.
Some of this innovation and globalization may be pushing the increased use of mobile apps by the MEP Giants. For example, the use of mobile applications for productivity and project management jumped from 43% to 54% in the past year. Engineering calculations saw a similar-sized jump, up to 44% use in 2013. Engineers are staying on top of technology to remain nimble, no matter where they are.
So whether your firm made this list or not, take a bit of advice: Stay on top of your game to keep competitive.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.