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Business of Engineering

Ask an expert on COVID-19: Michael Sheerin provides engineering guidance

Michael Sheerin shared expert advice to engineers and others involved in the technical aspects of engineering and designing building systems

By Michael Sheerin March 25, 2020
Courtesy: TLC Engineering Solutions Inc.

Consulting-Specifying Engineer sat down virtually to ask engineers and building experts how coronavirus was affecting the technical and engineering aspects of their jobs. Learn from Michael Sheerin, PE, LEED AP, CEO, TLC Engineering Solutions Inc., Orlando, Fla.

Question: What test-and-balance or air balancing challenges have you encountered? What unique challenges are you solving?

Sheerin: Every solution is a unique direction to suit the owner’s goals and the best that can be done with the equipment, time and budget available. The hospital folks that we are dealing with are all nervous, as are we all, because of the uncertainty over how overwhelming this may or may not get. They are preparing and focused, but urgent because the window to act is really short. It is now. We are really appreciative we have been able to help in any way and are proud of how committed they are in doing the best they can to protect front-line staff.

Question: What advice would you offer for building owners to enhance indoor air quality or indoor environmental quality overall?

Sheerin: Be smart. Ask for help. Don’t make rash decisions.

Question: Describe a unique health care project in which COVID-19 patients might be treated. This might be a hospital with specialty infectious disease coverage.

Sheerin: No, I don’t think that this is going to be unique. Every facility has capacity to put COVID patients into airborne infectious isolation rooms. The first few patients, maybe a dozen or so. Many facilities, maybe very many — we don’t know — will be faced with filling those rooms up and still having to house more patients somewhere that is safe for them, other patients and especially health care staff. This is what weighs on our minds, on our clients’ minds.

Question: What might other engineers/building professionals need to know when tackling COVID-19 projects?

Sheerin: Definitely refer to resources like ASHE and ASHRAE. Coordinate with your state and local health care authorities as you can. Realize that any little smart action is better than no action. Move quick. Quicker. A hand sketch is faster than a drawing. Get it to them.


Michael Sheerin
Author Bio: Michael Sheerin, PE, LEED AP, CEO, TLC Engineering Solutions Inc., Orlando, Fla.