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IAN EMPEY JOINS THE TEAM AS TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT SPECIALIST

SS&A welcomes Ian Empey to our team as Technology Support Specialist. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Ian has been living in Alabama for 8 years now…Roll Tide!

Previously studying at Troy University Montgomery, Ian holds a CompTIA A+ Certification and a Microsoft AZ-900 Certification for Azure Fundamentals. His experience includes working for the Leadership Development Course (LDC) at Maxwell AFB as a Technology Integration Specialist and Caddell Construction Co. (DE), LLC as the IT Help Desk Administrator.

Choosing SS&A because of how well they take care of their employees, Ian will be a vital asset to our IT department, supporting all the technology that is crucial to our company’s success.

In his spare time, Ian spends time with his 6-year-old daughter, Frances who will be attending Montgomery Academy in the Fall.

Welcome to the team, Ian!

INTERN SPOTLIGHT: ANDREW LEDDEN

SS&A would like to welcome 2022 Summer Mechanical intern Andrew Ledden to the team! Andrew is currently studying at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and will be graduating in May 2023 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Early in the application process, Andrew was allowed to meet with an SS&A Mechanical Engineer in our Knoxville office. After getting the “ins and outs” of a career in Mechanical Engineering and discussing the differences between Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Andrew decided to change his major to Mechanical Engineering as it aligned better with his career goals.

“Since I was young, I have always been interested in putting things together and bringing ideas to fruition. As an engineer, it is possible to take much larger projects and make them real. The initial brainstorming that goes into the design process is my favorite. I enjoy collaborating with others to hear their ideas and thoughts about a problem.”

Andrew is looking forward to the knowledge he will gain from our SS&A mentors, especially getting practice with the software our engineers use. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys hiking, playing the trumpet, and playing video games.

Welcome to the team, Andrew! We look forward to learning from each other this summer.

INTERN SPOTLIGHT: DELIANG CHEN

SS&A is pleased to welcome 2022 Summer Architectural Intern Deliang Chen to the team! Deliang is currently studying Architecture at Auburn University with a minor in Business and is scheduled to graduate in May 2023.

Deliang has been on the path toward becoming an architect since 5th grade. It all stemmed from his curiosity about how buildings were made and how they “worked.” These thoughts eventually led to him wanting to design buildings of his own.

First learning of SS&A through a mentorship program hosted by AIA, Deliang was immediately drawn to the project opportunities and work environment SS&A has to offer, but most importantly, by the SS&A team members he had met so far. Shout-out to Travis Krimmel!

Welcome to the team Deliang! We look forward to mentoring, sharing, teaching, and learning from you this summer.

Joshua Barto joins the team as Medical Planner / Medical Equipment Planner

SS&A welcomes Joshua Barto to our team as Medical Planner/Medical Equipment Planner. A 22+ year Army veteran, Joshua has over two decades of experience working in the Healthcare Technology field as a Biomedical Technician, Operations Manager, Healthcare Technology Director, and Medical Equipment and Clinical Planner. In his role at SS&A, he will be responsible for identifying clinical and equipment requirements and working to ensure our designs synchronize with our clients’ visions.

When presented with the opportunity to train as a Biomedical Equipment Technician in the Army, Joshua jumped at the chance as it sounded different and interesting. Since then, he has moved up the business food chain and branched into other occupations in which he can leverage his experience and knowledge. He has always been interested in learning how things work.

“Interesting enough, I still feel as though I am learning how things work; just now I am learning how the healthcare system/business works within medical facilities.”

Joshua’s favorite part of the design process is working with project stakeholders, identifying and refining their operational requirements and developing potential solutions. When asked why he chose SS&A, Joshua replied, “largely because of the type and quality of work performed in designing and studying federal healthcare requirements.” Welcome aboard, Joshua. We look forward to watching your continued growth!

Congratulations, Caleb Rudolph, on passing your Fundamentals of Engineering exam

SS&A Design Collective is proud to announce Caleb Rudolph recently passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Caleb has been with the company for just over a year as an Electrical Designer and has already proven to be a valuable member of our team. Congratulations on completing the first step on your path to becoming a professional licensed engineer (PE)!

SS&A named AXP Friendly Firm by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Alabama

SS&A is extremely honored to have been recently named an AXP Friendly firm by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Alabama. This distinction recognizes firms whose internship programs bridge the gap between classroom and workplace for students while promoting mentorship programs for designers and architects. Firms are also recognized for fostering a positive work environment which aids in the retention of recruits and employees.

The Power of the Small Stuff

At SS&A, we believe in the importance of passing our knowledge on to others. Travis Krimmel, Associate and Project Architect at SS&A, did just that at the 2022 Young Architect Winter Series. He presented a workshop titled “Don’t Forget the Small Stuff: The Often Overlooked Strategy to Rapidly Level Up Your Career.”

In his presentation, Travis talked about his combined experiences in the military and as an architect here at SS&A and the common denominator that he feels propels people to success – the small stuff. Small stuff, combined with hard work and communication, takes an individual, a project, and an organization from ordinary to EXTRAordinary.

Here are the key takeaways from Travis’ presentation:

  • By doing the small stuff consistently, over time, big moves can be accomplished.
  • Take the time to understand your why and figure out where you would like to go.
  • Find a small task that you can do consistently to move you in that direction and schedule a time and day to do it each week.

The workshop presented Travis with a great opportunity to hone his presentation skills. Though the conference was virtual, Travis fully engaged his audience by working through concepts and finding solutions with the attendees throughout the workshop.

SS&A and Travis are extremely passionate and motivated to help other Young Architects and young professionals level up and find their own paths.

Austin Lovvorn passes the Professional Engineer Exam

SS&A would like to congratulate Austin Lovvorn on passing the Professional Engineer Exam. As one of SS&A’s electrical engineer interns, Austin will continue his supervised training until he has accumulated enough hours to gain his PE licensure.

Although Austin is one of our star employees, recently being named SS&A’s Employee of the Quarter, getting to this point wasn’t exactly a straight path. Beginning college in the Fall of 2010 at UAB, he was uncertain of the career path he wanted to take. After majoring in math for a couple of years, then trying out a few pre-med courses, he decided to take a year off from school. In 2014, he returned as an Electrical Engineering major. While studying for his engineering degree, Austin co-oped with Hubbell Power Systems for 2 years. Right before graduation, a friend suggested he apply to SS&A. Knowing very little about the AE industry, he took a chance, submitted his resume, and was soon asked to come in for an interview and to meet the President, the Chief Engineer, and the electrical engineering team. Shortly after, he was offered a position with SS&A and joined the team in May of 2018.

When asked about his experience with the company, Austin replied, “Working at SS&A has taught me more about being an engineer than college ever could have. The engineers that supervise me have gone above and beyond not only showing me how we do things but showing why we do it this way. They have also encouraged me to constantly improve our design method and have given me the knowledge and ability to do so.”

SS&A is so proud of the strides you have made in your career, Austin, and we look forward to celebrating your next milestone!

Knowing When to Love It or List It: The Healthcare Built Environment

This past September, SS&A served as faculty at the Health Facilities Institute 31st annual symposium. It was great to reconnect with other attendees and learn from the faculty at this symposium.

For our presentation, SS&A spoofed HGTV’s hit show Love It or List It. Instead of focusing on residential properties and homeowners, we focused on the healthcare built environment.

So, how do you know when it’s time to Love It (renovate your existing healthcare facility) or List It (build or renovate in a new location)? We fit a Facility Utilization Assessment of a clinic in Hawaii into an episode of Love It or List It to teach key factors in determining an existing facility’s adaptability to current/future healthcare delivery needs.

SS&A’s Shaun Bott played the role of the episode’s conflicted client. Katelyn Walker played Team Love It designer with the reputation as a miracle worker with tired old healthcare facilities. Brian Sickles played the role of the real estate agent always trying to sell Shaun on something new.

By the end of the episode, Shaun had to choose between two plans with unique costs and time implications.

  1. A Love It option involving a major addition/alteration
  2. A List It option involving a new building and location

Like the show, SS&A enlists the help of many experts working behind the scenes to support the hosts. We’re a full-service design firm with architects, engineers, cost estimators, medical planners, interior designers, and everything in between. We have a long history of helping clients make informed decisions through facility assessments and studies that explore multiple courses of action.

We’re looking forward to the 2022 conferences and symposiums. Please contact us if you need expert help to decide whether it’s time to Love it or List it.

The Power of Mentoring

While celebrating our 75 years of service, a common thread has come to light. SS&A is a company full of team members who truly enjoy teaching and mentoring. Several of SS&A’s departments have formal and informal mentorship programs for their teams. Each one has developed their own approach to mentorship. Whether it is weekly huddles, monthly round tables, quarterly workshops, or unplanned one-on-one’s, SS&A values mentorship. In addition to the internal mentorship, SS&A team members also take their passion for teaching to external mentorship programs.

The SS&A Mechanical Department has weekly huddles where they discuss current topics and work through them as a team. Director of Mechanical Engineering, Chris Eversole, makes it a point to continue learning and passes that knowledge onto his team. He believes that everyone, no matter position or experience, can be a mentor for someone else. He actively tries to foster a culture of mentorship and bring out the best in each team member.

The SS&A Architecture Department has a peer mentorship group that meets once a month called PATH. The PATH group was started by Architect Travis Krimmel two years ago. “As I became licensed, I realized that I had a lot of help from a lot of people. I wanted to pay that forward, and I also wanted to continue learning from those around me. That idea led to PATH. Every month we have either a class taught by one of the team or another department, a roundtable discussion, or a specific discussion or exercise. The purpose of the group is to support each other on our journeys and in our careers.”

Paul Phillips, the Director of Medical Planning, has mentorship built into his leadership style. “Others invested in me throughout my career and have shared experiences, lessons learned, feedback on my handling of situations and things to think about…it is my belief their mentorship molded me into the leader I am today. The desire in helping others succeed is part of my fabric.” Paul’s multi-pronged approach to mentorship is as follows: He invests in people, taking the time to get to know and understand them. He is proactive, though it can be hard it pays huge dividends downstream. He provides honest feedback, allowing team members to adjust early on. He encourages others to dream and helps guide their path. He listens, and by being the sounding board he helps team members “talk through” things. And he shares his experiences, allowing others to learn from his failures.

SS&A Employees have benefited immensely from the culture of mentorship that is cultivated here at SS&A. Here are some of their experiences.

Katelyn Walker, Medical Planner: “SS&A has made a tremendous impact in the growth of my career and technical skills. Throughout the last 6 years, I have been given opportunities to expand my knowledge of project management and team collaboration in more ways than I could have ever anticipated. SS&A’s unique perk is the many, many disciplines we have under one roof. I have been able to learn from those within my discipline as well as those we coordinate with on a day-to-day basis. This has allowed me to view outside perspectives and take various aspects of how others approach our project work. This unique dynamic allows me to better serve our project teams and clients. I have been shown support from SS&A that is unprecedented and speaks volumes to the character of our company. Setting a goal within this company is not a lost effort, rather it ignites our leaders to help us achieve success.”

Justin Davis, Architectural Intern: “I have benefitted greatly from the mentorship opportunities within the company, not just from the architectural team but from the various disciplines within the company. It has allowed me to think more logically and practically when designing a building. How to incorporate HVAC systems and structure into a design are things that I did not fully grasp in my earlier years of college. Detailing various elements of walls, doors, windows, and roofs helped me to understand the limitations of certain materials and how they work when fully assembled. Learning about UFCs and other codes and regulations have helped me as well. I’ve also learned about professional documentation, libel, and procedures that helped to better prepare me in my understanding of college courses. And through programs like PATH I was able to gain a better understanding of the continued route of education I will need to pursue after graduating college in my aim to obtain my license in architecture.”

SS&A loves mentoring so much they even look for opportunities outside of the company to flex their mentorship muscles. For example, Brian Sickles, Construction Specifier and BIM Manager, serves on the Knoxville chapter CSI’s Board of Directors and as the liaison to the University of Tennessee CSI Student Chapter. They work with students to fill in the gaps between academics and practice. The students identify what they feel are blind spots in their education and work to identify local chapter members who can present on that topic and field questions. CSI UTK meets 3-4 times per semester with presenters from the CSI Knoxville chapter.

The Director of Architecture Architectural Department Head and Company VP, Shavon Charlot, finds several opportunities to mentor inside and out of SS&A. She has taught at local universities, lead quarterly workshops within the company, and has been part of a program called MirrorMe™️, an Americas’ Hidden Gem™️ initiative. MirrorMe™️ is a mentoring program that is geared towards emerging professionals and industry veterans. Data suggests that the lack of mentorship between Black emerging professionals and Black licensed professionals has been a pivotal issue as to why they are not transitioning into becoming the registered architects they’ve been striving and studying to become. The phase between academia and the workforce is the most tedious and transformative time for the emerging professional. It’s a time where guidance and direction are needed to get to the next level. Through MirrorMe™️, mentors like Shavon aim to bridge the gap, provide support, and increase representation. Shavon was recently part of the first cohort for the MirrorMe™️ program.

As SS&A strives toward excellence, we find it is most important to give back. By mentoring others and teaching from our lessons learned the hard way, we know that we are not only creating a better now but also a better future. We pride ourselves on making complex buildings simple, and we enjoy teaching that knowledge to others so that we may all progress together.