Up to Code
Kyle MacKenzie is dedicated to his career. Whether he is at his job as electrical engineering department head and principal at Polise Consulting Engineers, educating peers through seminars, or helping New York City draft new electrical codes, he takes his role to heart. He sat down with The Box to talk about his experience at New York Institute of Technology, and why it’s important to him to be involved policy making.
Why did you choose New York Tech?
When I was 19 years old I worked for an electrical contractor. I enjoyed reading and interpreting electrical construction documentation and the codes and standards associated with electrical construction more than the workmanship and installation side of the profession. I also excelled in math and science throughout my education, and enjoyed classes related to those topics. New York Tech was a good fit for me because I wanted a school that had more of an engineering and technology focus. I chose to pursue a degree in electrical and computer engineering technology.
What you are doing now?
For more than 11 years I have worked at Polise Consulting Engineers. We provide MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) design and consulting for commercial and residential buildings in New York City and the surrounding areas. I am the electrical engineering department head and a principal. My daily duties include electrical and fire alarm system design, managing and mentoring a team of electrical engineers, coordinating design and construction with architects, contractors, and building managers, and working with the rest of our management team at Polise to form company policy and find efficiencies in the way we design, produce, and conduct business.
Can you tell us about your role in drafting electrical code for New York City?
I’ve been lucky to have been accepted into two policy making groups, NYC Lighting Council and NYC Electrical Code Revision and Interpretation Committee (E.C.R.I.C.) for Fire Pumps and Special Conditions. The NYC Lighting Council is an amalgamation of architects, lighting consultants, and engineers that provide seminars on lighting design, lighting controls, and egress lighting systems. For this group, I help organize seminars and have been a panelist and speaker at events and conferences. NYC E.C.R.I.C. is a committee organized by the NYC Buildings department that is currently in the process of drafting the next NYC Electrical Code. I review the articles of the Electrical Code that I have been assigned and every two weeks I meet with a group of engineers and electrical contractors to debate code changes.
Why is helping to draft code and teach seminars on these issues important to you?
I take my profession very seriously. The hazards associated with electrical and fire safety installations are easily misunderstood. As someone who has a technical knowledge of these topics I feel inclined to share my knowledge with others through seminars and revise outdated and potentially unsafe codes and standards. I feel that my ongoing work not only at Polise but as a code writer and a member of the group that provides seminars on safety topics will provide for a safer New York City.
What are the aspects of your job that you find the most interesting or challenging?
Similarly to what I liked about New York Tech, I’m most drawn to problem-solving. Working as an engineering department head, I have the unique access to be a part of the process in solving all electrical- and fire alarm-related issues that occur on every project that our office is assigned. The most challenging part of being an electrical design engineer is the human aspect of the job. Decisions in this industry are not only based on the right thing technically, but also what works best for the rest of the design team, the client and, in some cases, the construction team.
How did your studies at New York Tech prepare you to face the challenges of your job or position?
I had some great professors at New York Tech. They taught me how to excel intellectually just as much as they taught me how to grow up and be a professional. The small class structure at New York Tech helped cultivate communication and allowed my teachers to become my mentors.
Was there a project, professor, or experience at New York Tech that stands out in your memory?
I had three classes with Hossein Kashani, M.S. I had my first class with him the first semester of my sophomore year. He didn’t like me because I was always goofing off in the back of the class and not listening to his lectures. Low and behold, I did poorly that semester! At the end of the semester he let the class know that he had a potential internship. I went to see him after the class but he said he would not recommend me for the internship because I was not taking my education and my life seriously. I took that conversation with Professor Kashani to heart.
The next two classes with him were my senior year at New York Tech. I sat in the front of the class, asked questions, and routinely saw Kashani after class to follow up on items I was not sure of. I got straight As my senior year, including two A+s in Professor Kashani’s class.