In this episode, I talk with Pedro Constanzo, PE, Vice President at Burns & McDonnell, about his expertise related to project management in engineering, infrastructure design, and specifically military base development.
***The video version of this episode can be viewed here.***
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Pedro:
- How can stress be managed in multidisciplinary projects while ensuring project success and maintaining motivation, while also managing the stress of team members, both visible and invisible?
- In your experience with military design, including facilities, infrastructure, and weapon systems, what key challenges have you encountered, and how did you overcome them in these respective fields?
- In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and AI, can you talk about the latest trends or innovations in military-based development and infrastructure?
- Do you have a preferred brand for the equipment you use, like the Apple goggles seen on YouTube, or are there specific household brands or names you typically rely on?
- As a project manager, can you delve into the habits and techniques you incorporate into your project management approach, including any practices you pass on to your team members?
- Can you share brief insights on how you effectively communicate and encourage collaboration within your team?
- How do you keep up with new technologies in your industry and decide which ones are beneficial for your projects and team?
- Reflecting on your journey as a project manager, what advice would you give your younger self when starting in this role?
- What advice do you have for aspiring engineers or project managers looking to pursue a career like yours and enter the space you’re currently in?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Navigating the Complexities of Project Management in Engineering:
- Career progression is like juggling, adding more responsibilities over time. Prioritize tasks wisely to avoid dropping essential “glass balls.” In leading teams through lengthy projects, maintain motivation through regular engagement, weekly meetings, and a focus on the end goal. Be team-oriented, balancing workloads, and ensure open communication with both the internal team and clients through routine touch points for sustained success.
- In a project for the Burlington Air National Guard with the F-35 Bed Down program, the team encountered challenges adapting existing infrastructure to support the unique requirements of this advanced fighter aircraft. Analyzing capacities, accommodating specialized power and cooling needs, and adjusting to evolving F-35 specifications were ongoing hurdles. The key to overcoming these challenges lies in focusing on the end goal and cultivating clear communication with clients and user groups throughout the design process.
- In recent projects like the aircraft hangar at Robbins Air Force Base, the team embraced virtual reality (VR) to enhance collaboration with pilots and maintainers. VR allowed them to walk through the spaces before construction, providing valuable feedback and ensuring the final design met their needs precisely. This innovative approach not only improves communication but also showcases the remarkable navigational skills of pilots in virtual environments.
- Utilizing the Oculus headset and leveraging various third-party software, the team at Robbins delivered an immersive walkthrough experience for their client. This accessible technology allowed the client’s maintainers to tour the facility without requiring additional licenses—just an Oculus headset. The initiative successfully pumped up the maintainers by providing a realistic preview of the upcoming facility, showcasing the effectiveness of the Oculus headset combined with third-party software in delivering impactful project outcomes.
- For engineers eyeing project management, prioritize core engineering skills and practice patience in career building. Emphasize a “people-first” approach, focusing on team and client relationships. Build a cohesive team, stay solution-oriented, and foster personal connections for success. Highlight technical excellence and exceptional customer experience, setting a positive tone as a project manager. Employ regular communication, action item lists, and accountability for effective project management.
- Success in any project, whether with your team or clients, relies on good collaboration. Regular team meetings help communication, avoiding email overload. Face-to-face talks build meaningful connections. Clear interactions with clients and a unified approach within the team, guided by the project manager, ensure everyone works together smoothly toward shared goals.
- Over the years, the tools in the industry have evolved, shifting from pen and paper to advanced technologies. At present, there are dedicated innovation teams that assess and test new processes and technologies. For instance, the adoption of virtual reality went through thorough evaluation and testing before widespread use. This approach extends to various industry developments, providing teams the freedom to explore and improve processes and tools continually.
- The advice for a younger self, especially as a junior engineer, boils down to being proactive. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, network, and be eager to take on challenges. Approach tasks with urgency and pride, raising your hand even if unsure, and embracing opportunities with enthusiasm. This approach not only builds connections and experiences but also opens doors for career growth.
- There are different paths to becoming a project manager, such as exploring related disciplines like communication distribution design. Master your field early on, take notes from various project managers you encounter, and focus on delivering success in your current opportunities to progress in your career.
More Details in This Episode…
About Pedro Constanzo, PE
Pedro Constanzo, PE, leads national collaboration for the Aviation & Federal Group, working to drive team efficiency and client service across offices. With 23 years at Burns & McDonnell, he worked as an electrical engineer before serving as an electrical department manager, and later serving as projects director for our Department of Defense sector. Most recently, he managed the F-35 Beddown Project at Tyndall Air Force Base, the largest single award construction contract for the U.S. Air Force.
About the Host: Matthew Douglas
Matthew currently serves as the operations leader for the Engineering Management Institute. As a leader, Matthew’s goal is to ensure the efficacy and efficiency of the Learning and Development group. As a civil engineer by trade, Matthew has developed a passion for construction and stormwater management by way of maintenance and rehabilitation services. Matthew has also had experience working for private consulting firms and public agencies and has even held the role of an educator. As such, he loves to lead, build, mentor, and help those in need.
Most recently, during his time working for the public sector, Matthew took on the role of a public works operations manager. There he led quite a few public infrastructure rehabilitation projects and implemented new asset management technologies at a very young age. It is here that the passion for “fixing what’s broken” developed. He now uses his talents to lead EMI’s Learning and Development – Operational procedures, train engineers, and co-host podcasts.
This Episode Is Brought to You by PPI:
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We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on navigating the complexities of project management in engineering.
Please leave your comments, feedback, or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success