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Eco-Alpha Inspires: Scott Robertson

Scott Robertson

Eco-Alpha Engineer, K-12
Historian, Firefighter, Santa Claus

"We take pride in our work. We talk to each other about growing and doing our jobs right. Sharing that value is rewarding."

Who Is Scott?

For Scott, engineering isn’t just a profession; it’s in his blood. He’s a 5th generation Stationary Engineer who feels drawn to the tradition of the work. Scott describes the tradition that has been a part of his family: “As long as we have produced heat, engineering has been what we do. From the time we began moving ships, engineering has been necessary. He finds inspiration in his ability to learn and grow every day.” 

Scott had been on the waitlist to become a firefighter in Chicago and was working in a building that did not have a licensed engineer for two years. Although his responsibilities grew over time, he was still receiving his custodial pay. Scott shares the moment he decided to take the next step to formally learn the engineering trade:

“That was when my dad gave me my great grandfather’s diary. As time passed by, I found myself working on items that were out of my area of expertise and was getting overwhelmed with the prospect of not having all of the tools I needed to get the job done. I’d always wanted to be an engineer, but I didn’t understand a lot of what I was reading. I knew it was information I needed to learn.”

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A Desire to Learn More

Because Scott cared about the people inside the building, he always gave his best. Everyone had his cell phone number, and he’d told them they could call anytime if there was an issue. To meet his aspiration to become better at his job as well as to provide for his family, Scott needed more education. At the time, the course Scott would need to complete was $650. Financially, this would be a burden, and he didn’t know how he would make it work… especially right before Christmas. 

“A few days before the tuition deadline, I got called down to the auditorium in my building. They told me there was a spill that needed my attention. When I got to the room, I couldn’t find the spill anywhere. That was when I was called to the stage. After walking on stage, they handed me a check for $650 – exactly what I needed for the class. The care I gave to them made a difference to them, and they cared about me, too. They gave me such an amazing gift, and I won’t ever forget it. That human connection – that’s really what all of this is about.”

Scott signed up for the class the same day.

As he continued his journey to become a building engineer, Scott maintained an active schedule. In addition to dedicating time to his wife and daughter, he continued working as a custodian, delivering pizza at night, and volunteering for the 5-11 Club for the Chicago Fire Department which puts out some of the worst fires in city. 

Becoming An Engineer

Scott continued to read his great grandfather’s diary as he worked toward his licensure. In his classes, he heard many of the things that he read on the pages of his great grandfather’s diary. His investment in his own education continued to grow. He continued to attend classes and receive certifications until he received his licensure.

One hundred ten years to the day that his great grandfather was licensed with the City of Chicago, Scott was licensed as an Engineer.

Creating His Own Legacy

Since gaining his Stationary Engineer licensure, Scott has worked in some of the largest and highest rated hospitals in the city. He has also worked at some of the most well-known hotels in Chicago. In 2019, Scott received the opportunity to work as an engineer in the same type of building where he had worked as a custodian in. 

Scott describes how he uses his expertise as a Stationary Engineer to help in emergency situations:

“Nobody really knows what engineers do. When the fire department shows up, they’re not asking for the CEO or the president of the company. They’re asking for the engineer. When there is an emergency in the building, the people tending to the emergency want to talk to the person who can assist them in the building: the engineer. And I love it. I get to learn something new every single day!”

Always Staying Busy

When Scott isn’t engineering and studying, he enjoys researching his family’s history as engineers. Not only did his great grandfather (photographed above) who wrote the diary work as a Chief Engineer at the Wrigley Gum Factory in Chicago, his great-great grandfather also served as a Stationary Engineer at the Rosenbaum Grain Elevator.

His historical research doesn’t stop with his family. When he first started working at his current location, Scott noticed there were coal feeding boilers in the building. As the replacement process for those units began, Scott was determined to ensure that the history of those boilers was not forgotten. He painted one of the grates and hung it on the wall in the boiler room with the names of all those who worked on the boiler system. 

In addition to his passion for engineering, Scott takes pride and joy in dressing up as Santa for the kids – an activity he has done for 17 years. As he visits the hospitals and brings joy to others, Scott remembers the gift that was given to him that Christmas season so long ago.

Scott’s aspiration to grow and improve as an engineer has only continued to grow over the years. He is currently working toward a Masters Degree in Facilities Management. He hopes to be a Chief Engineer one day so he can support and inspire others.  

Eco-Alpha is a minority and women-owned family company and is proud to be comprised of a diverse group of engineers, scientists, and consultants. 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate content doing business with Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc.

For more information visit https://eco-alpha.com/ .

SOURCE: Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, © Copyright 2022 Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

Photos provided courtesy of Scott Robertson

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Eco-Alpha Inspires: Michael Ramos

Michael Ramos

Eco-Alpha Chief Engineer, K-12
Proud Father, Grandfather, Uncle


"I love that Eco-Alpha encourages engineers to work together and reach out to each other."

Who is Michael?

Although Michael Ramos joined Eco-Alpha in 2021, his passion started long before he joined the team. He started his career in the engineering field straight out of high school in 1988 and has been the Chief Engineer at his current building for the last five years. He is driven by knowing the work he does each day creates safe, warm, well-lit buildings for children that could very well be his own kids, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Michael remarks, “There is nothing sadder than walking into a room and seeing kids in their winter coats and hats.” His mission is to make sure the buildings he engineers are never a concern for a child or their parents. He adds, “They should never worry about feeling safe and comfortable in these buildings. I think about that a lot as a father and grandfather.”

Safety is a Top Priority

In 2014, the Flint water crisis hit the news. Children were exposed to unsafe lead and toxin levels found in their drinking water. A large number of students required special assistance in school because the water was unfit for consumption. Some would need assistance for the rest of their lives. Other big cities grew concerned in 2016 when over 5,000 assessed water systems had lead levels exceeding the EPA’s safety standard.

Science shows that older buildings and pipes are at a higher risk for lead exposure in the drinking water. Chicago is known for maintaining historical buildings and continuing to use them for several purposes: schools, museums, architectural design, and art. Although the structural integrity of those historical buildings may remain intact, some of the materials that were used are no longer considered safe.

Michael remembers his experience of working in a building with lead contamination very well:

“The building I was working in – and many other buildings throughout the city – had high levels of lead in the water. We know the dangers of drinking lead. There are 42 water fountains. I am only in the building for maybe half an hour before people start to arrive. It was a daunting task to flush all of the water fountains. I felt like… I can’t be the only engineer struggling with this. How can we use technology to make this job easier?”

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While serving as an engineer in other buildings prior to 2016, Michael spent much of his time developing his skills in electrical systems. He knew he could not complete the manual protocols of flushing all 42 water fountains on his own in just 30 minutes. However, his familiarity with electrical engineering created an opportunity for automation that could speed up the flushing process and remediate the lead problems in the water.

The Noah System

Michael developed the Noah system which he named after his nephew who has autism. It is an automated flushing system that activates the water fountains as soon as the lights are turned on in the building in the morning. Every three hours, the Noah System flushes the water and coats the pipes. What becomes detrimental to water safety is allowing the water to sit stagnant in the pipes. Stagnant water will leach the harmful substances from the metal and carry them to the water fountain.

“By flushing the systems every three hours, we effectively made the lead levels undetectable overnight. Now, I watch people come into the building in the morning and fill up their reusable bottles. Nobody is carrying around single use bottles. They want to drink from the water fountain.”

THE TECHNOLOGY HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN MORE THAN THREE CHICAGOLAND AREA SCHOOLS IN SUPPORT OF HEALTHY DRINKING WATER.

Michael’s goal is to bring safe, clean water to children nationwide. This includes taking major steps like speaking before of Congress in 2019 and attending other major conferences around the country. 

Photos courtesy of M. Ramos. October 2022, Noah Systems visits New Orleans, Louisiana WEFTEC Convention, meeting other water professionals from around the world to discuss the future of water quality.

Why Eco-Alpha

Michael is an innovator and has a passion for healthy environments both in the workplace and at home. In fact, he has a large aquarium with African cichlids in his house. He loves looking at the fish for relaxation. He also learned that the aquarium has the capacity to be a natural air purifier for his home. Michael takes pride in knowing the plants are purifying the air in his dining room. He also uses the waste from the fish to fertilize plants he grows in the water.

Michael describes his passion for working with Eco-Alpha:

“I’m passionate about the work I do everyday. The feeling I get from my Zone Chief and Building Manager – there is a lot of support and knowledge there. When the supervisors can give you guidance or point you in the right direction, it goes a long way. I feel like I can continue to learn from them and work with them. It definitely boosts morale. I love that Eco-Alpha encourages engineers to work together and reach out to each other. There is a network. You feel the support. We have friendship. That’s not something that is always encouraged. Here, it is encouraged to reach out to your fellow engineers. We have a common goal.” 

As a Chief Engineer, Michael also serves as a mentor and supports engineers with less experience, by providing upskill training. Click here to learn more about Noah Systems and the inspiring work Michael Ramos is doing in the community.

Eco-Alpha is a minority and women-owned family company and is proud to be comprised of a diverse group of engineers, scientists, and consultants. 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate content doing business with Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc.

For more information visit https://eco-alpha.com/ 

SOURCE: Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, © Copyright 2022 Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

Photos provided courtesy of Michael Ramos.

Disclaimer

The Noah System is not connected to Eco-Alpha. The work completed and described in this article is solely the work of Michael Ramos and Noah System, Inc., not Eco-Alpha. Eco-Alpha celebrates the accomplishments of employees inside and outside of our organization.

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Eco-Alpha Successfully Trains Cohort I of the Energy Baron Program in partnership with Sacramento Promise Zone’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative

SACRAMENTO, CA | September 22, 2021 – Eco-Alpha has proudly hosted, in partnership with the Sacramento Promise Zone’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative, Cohort I of the Energy Baron Program (EBP), and is now opening applications for participation in Cohort II. The Energy Baron Program has provided participants of Cohort I with training in facilities energy management and sustainable energy technology to help reduce the energy usage in buildings across the Greater Sacramento Region.

Energy Barons complete an 8-week hands-on and virtual training, networking, and certification course with Eco-Alpha to position themselves for career pathways in facilities energy management. Trainees in Cohort I had a unique opportunity to get an inside look into the growing and demanding professions that could inspire career choices and explore fields including energy and sustainability, energy management technology, mechanical engineering, customer service, facilities support services, and many others. As a leader in sustainable facilities management energy initiatives, Eco-Alpha is dedicated to empowering communities by providing equitable access to workforce development opportunities in the area of energy, while emphasizing collaborative learning, innovation, leadership, and sustainable technology.

Trainees from Cohort I of the Energy Baron Program work together with Eco-Alpha Personnel to …

“Our goal is to provide greater access to pathways to clean energy career opportunities and furthers our commitment to broadening STEM participation and empowering communities,” said Eco-Alpha CEO, Melanie Okoro, PhD. Whether it be networking with established energy facilities career professionals, learning key energy management fundamentals, experiencing hands-on learning in new facilities technologies, touring facilities in the community, or even assistance with job-placement in the energy management sector, our trainees explored various energy career paths and gained valuable work experience and certifications in a workplace culture.

Following the success of Cohort I, the Sacramento Promise Zone’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative has decided to work with Eco-Alpha once again to support a second cohort of Energy Barons. Applications to join Cohort II of the Energy Baron Program are open from now until October 1, 2021. The program will run each Saturday from October 16 to December 4, 2021, and is open to individuals who live or work in the Sacramento Promise Zone.

The Sacramento Promise Zone’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative is a community-focused initiative aligning with our funding partner’s core purpose and vision of enhancing the quality of life for all in Sacramento’s Promise Zone. The collaboration between the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce, SMUD, SHRA, Sacramento Promise Zone,  Sacramento Kings and UC Davis Health is determined to bring environmental equity and economic vitality to all communities within the twenty-three mile federally designated Promise Zone giving special attention to historically underserved neighborhoods.

 

 

 

*In Session: Cohort II: Energy Baron Program  October 16 – December 4, 2021


About Eco-Alpha

Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc. offers environmental professional services and engineering staffing services and training services nation-wide. Eco-Alpha is a minority and women-owned family company and is proud to be comprised of a diverse group of engineers, scientists, and consultants. Eco-Alpha is a DGS Certified Small Business (Micro): 2007925 and a California Public Utilities Clearinghouse (CPUC) Certified Women-Minority Small Business: 20365957.

For more information visit https://eco-alpha.com/training/energy-baron-program/ .

SOURCE: Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, © Copyright 2021 Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Eco-Alpha launches Energy Baron Program in partnership with Sacramento Promise Zone’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative

Eco-Alpha_Energy_Baron_Program_Cohort_Training (1)_2021

SACRAMENTO, CA | April 22, 2021 – Eco-Alpha is proud to host in partnership with the Sacramento Promise Zone’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative: Cohort I – Energy Baron Program (EBP). The Energy Baron Program provides participants with training in facilities energy management and sustainable energy technology to help reduce the energy usage in buildings across the Greater Sacramento Region.

Energy Barons complete an 8-week hands-on and virtual training, networking, and certification course with Eco-Alpha to position themselves for career pathways in facilities energy management. Trainees have a unique opportunity to get an inside look into the growing and demanding professions that could inspire career choices and explore fields including energy and sustainability, energy management technology, mechanical engineering, customer service, facilities support services, and many others. As a leader in sustainable facilities management energy initiatives, Eco-Alpha is dedicated to empowering communities by providing equitable access to workforce development opportunities in the area of energy, while em phasizing collaborative learning, innovation, leadership, and sustainable technology.

 

 

 

 

 

“Our goal is to provide greater access to pathways to clean energy career opportunities and furthers our commitment to broadening STEM participation and empowering communities,” said Eco-Alpha CEO, Melanie Okoro, PhD. Whether it be networking with established energy facilities career professionals, learning key energy management fundamentals, experiencing hands-on learning in new facilities technologies, touring facilities in the community, or even assistance with job-placement in the energy management sector, our trainees explore various energy career paths and gain valuable work experience and certifications in a workplace culture.

The Sacramento Promise Zone’s Sustainable Communities Collaborative is a community-focused initiative aligning with our funding partner’s core purpose and vision of enhancing the quality of life for all in Sacramento’s Promise Zone. The collaboration between the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce, SMUD, SHRA, Sacramento Promise Zone,  Sacramento Kings and UC Davis Health is determined to bring environmental equity and economic vitality to all communities within the twenty-three mile federally designated Promise Zone giving special attention to historically underserved neighborhoods.

 

 

 

*In Session: Cohort I: Energy Baron Program  April 10 – May 29, 2021


About Eco-Alpha

Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc. offers environmental professional services and engineering staffing services and training services nation-wide. Eco-Alpha is a minority and women-owned family company and is proud to be comprised of a diverse group of engineers, scientists, and consultants. Eco-Alpha is a DGS Certified Small Business (Micro): 2007925 and a California Public Utilities Clearinghouse (CPUC) Certified Women-Minority Small Business: 20365957.

For more information visit https://eco-alpha.com/training/energy-baron-program/ .

SOURCE: Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, © Copyright 2021 Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Eco-Alpha partners with the California Mobility Center, SMUD and Sacramento State to host CMC Fellow Internship opportunities in the clean energy sector

Eco-Alpha California Mobility Center Fellow Interns 2020

SACRAMENTO, CA | January 19, 2020 – Eco-Alpha partnered with the California Mobility Center Fellow Program, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and Sacramento State Career Center to host Sacramento College students and recent alumni residing in the City of Sacramento whose employment or studies were disrupted by COVID-19.

Samar Shinwar (California State East Bay) and Obehi Ehigie (Lois Rios Community College) completed a 4-week internship with Eco-Alpha to position them for career pathways in clean energy mobility and facilities energy management.

“As a leader in sustainable facilities management energy initiatives, we’re excited to support the collaboration with CMC, SMUD, and Sacramento State that will further the widespread growth of the clean energy sector,” said Eco-Alpha CEO, Melanie Okoro, PhD. Providing greater access to pathways to clean energy career opportunities furthers our commitment to broadening STEM participation and empowering communities.

“Eco-Alpha is proud to support the City of Sacramento Workforce Development initiatives, internships, hands-on projects, mentor-mentee experience, and 21st Century Career Skills in the facilities operations and maintenance and energy management industry, and we’re looking forward to the continued partnership and increasing those efforts,” said Uzoma Okoro (Eco-Alpha Co-Owner and President of Engineering).

California Mobility Center and Sacramento State Career Center administered the program on behalf of, and in collaboration with SMUD. SMUD is a founding member of the California Mobility Center in Sacramento that serves as an innovation hub of policy, funding and commercialization of clean transportation technologies including autonomous transportation; electric vehicles; battery storage; shared mobility solutions; public transit and more. Funding for participants from City of Sacramento Workforce Development CARES Act.

About Eco-Alpha

Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc. offers environmental professional services and engineering professional development and consulting throughout the state of California. Eco-Alpha is a minority and women-owned family company and is proud to be comprised of a diverse group of engineers, scientists, and consultants. Eco-Alpha is a DGS Certified Small Business (Micro): 2007925 and a California Public Utilities Clearinghouse (CPUC) Certified Women-Minority Small Business: 20365957.

For more information visit www.eco-alpha.com.

SOURCE: Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, © Copyright 2021 Eco-Alpha Environmental and Engineering Services, Inc. All rights reserved.