Expanding the MEP firm’s role

MEP engineers are adding T (technology) to their expertise

By Amara Rozgus April 19, 2021

My husband, a network engineer for a local college, frequently explains to me the issues he and his information technology team face. The team is small, so it’s well-versed in the many aspects of managing the hardware, software, data closets, co-location facility, telecommunication and various other aspects of an IT infrastructure.

When he first started in his current position, “bring your own device” was a large challenge. Students at this liberal arts college brought everything imaginable to stoke their creativity. The challenge: Ensure the wireless system on campus could handle the multitude of devices, and that authentication met the college’s standards. This required different players to get involved, not only the internet service provider, but the consultants who had originally set up the Wi-Fi system.

Next came the challenges of new construction, and working with consulting engineers on every aspect of the building’s design that might affect the IT infrastructure. Wired and wireless aspects of the project were looked at. Low- and medium-voltage electrical systems were discussed. Conduit and cable types, data closets, network security and wireless lighting systems were thrown into the mix. Bandwidth crept into every conversation because of the large file sizes students worked with. Our house was awash with diagrams and schematics, and I’m pretty sure he muttered about these in his sleep.

Over the past couple of years, cybersecurity has bubbled to the forefront. It has come up in conversations with consultants about the building automation system. Integrating various systems between old buildings and new construction has been discussed. Physical security increased at the co-lo facility that houses all of the college’s servers.

When a new CIO started, she wisely analyzed of all of the college’s building systems as they related to the IT team. Her review included lighting controls, uninterruptible power supply monitoring systems, card readers, cloud-based applications, building access controls and emergency communication systems.

The IT team was concerned with ensuring common network protocols, such as BACnet and LonWorks, all connected seamlessly with the campus software and hardware. Again, cybersecurity was front and center in each conversation. No one wanted to witness a data breach, or endure the wrath of students, faculty and staff if one occurred.

The IT guy, aka my husband, who had started as a low-voltage electrician is now also a cybersecurity expert. Technology and cybersecurity have become part of every conversation. If you or someone on your team has added these services to your consulting practice, we’d like to learn more about your expertise. Please contact me at arozgus@cfemedia.com.

Author Bio: Amara Rozgus is the Editor-in-Chief/Content Strategy Leader