Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Houston Heartbreak



We are all well aware of the catastrophic flooding taking place in Houston right now. It hits especially close to home for two of our employees who lived there in the 1980's and whose children were born there. Little did Maury Paslick know when he was on the design team for the George R. Brown Convention Center that it would someday be used to house victims of this terrible disaster. Maury has always been proud of the award he received for his utility box design on that project but would gladly give it up for a return to normalcy for friends and family.  And who could have guessed that the guy known as "Mattress Mac" who sold bedding by the side of the road when Maria and Maury lived there would now have a big furniture store where he has also welcomed folks seeking shelter.

Our office manager's husband has been sent to Houston by the Coast Guard to help coordinate communication efforts. Estimates are that he will be away from his family for a month or so. You are in our thoughts, Chad and Saylor family!  Please consider giving to the American Red Cross to help the relief effort. Houstonians, both current and former, would be much obliged.      

Friday, November 4, 2016

Halloween 2016

One of our insurance agents paid us a Halloween visit, dressed as a chicken no less. Very hot inside that costume though. Thanks for thinking of us, Debi!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Recent SAI Engineering Projects in the News

Starting off in 2016,  two projects our firm has been involved with were featured in The Washington Post and Prince William Today. The first has involved our team members for several years and that concerns the transformation of the former Lorton prison property into a mixed-use community. SAI Engineering has provided the electrical systems design for the first phase of the project, 165 apartments with ancillary buildings, in partnership with the Manassas office of Benfield Electric. This phase, which broke ground last fall, is scheduled to be completed next year.


The other project, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, is set to open at the end of January 2016 in Manassas, Virginia. SAI Engineering is very proud to have teamed with Loveless Porter Architects to assist Habitat for Humanity Prince William in relocating its Manassas site. The community looks forward to having a Woodbridge location in the near future. Please consider contributing household items to stock the stores as you reorganize your own households this new year. 



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday Greetings as SAI Engineering Continues Celebrating its 20th Year!

What better way to welcome in  the New Year than with SAI's own Jack Frost. As we weather record warm temperatures with a 100% chance of a Green Christmas, this may be as close as we get to celebrating snowflakes, albeit in the form of Robert Browning. Shocking display from the electrical design department and from a member with a very appropriate last name, too, given the current landscape here in Woodbridge, Virginia. Cheers to all and may you have a very prosperous 2016!



Friday, September 18, 2015

The Ups of Downs of Fall

The coming of fall signals a new school year and with that the sad departure of the very fine interns SAI Engineering was fortunate to have this past summer -- Jacob Lasrado, a third year electrical engineering student at Virginia Tech, the recipient of an engineering scholarship from SAI while a senior at Woodbridge High School, and Bill Swift, a third year mechanical engineering student at Purdue University who attended Thomas Jefferson High School. Both fit right into the collaborative team culture that is SAI and were instrumental in assisting with several projects including designing systems to support well pumps to irrigate sports fields for Loudoun County schools. We wish them great success in the coming year. These young men join a cadre of dozens of interns that SAI has employed over the past two decades, some of whom became full-time employees, and nearly all of whom went on to gainful employment in the field of engineering. Last school year we partnered with the new Governor's School at  George Mason University to provide an intern experience to Tristen Gulley-Davenport who now attends UVa studying computer engineering with a minor in music. We look forward to following her journey to a fulfilling career.

We bid the interns farewell along with Dan Zito, longtime SAI Engineering Vice President and Chief Mechanical Engineer, with a fun pizza/beer bash capped off  by a DC performance of Capitol Steps. Dan retired after almost 20 years with SAI to enjoy the good life of watching sports, playing golf and spending time with his family in NY.       


With Dan's retirement came the well-earned promotion of George Preston, PE, as Vice President and Chief Mechanical Engineer. George has been with SAI since his graduation from VaTech over 10 years ago and fittingly presented intern Jacob with his college scholarship several years ago at Woodbridge High School which George also attended. SAI Engineering is proud to have assisted in the establishment of the engineering program known as Project Lead the Way at Woodbridge, in existence for nearly a decade now. George and his wife Shana, also a Virginia Tech graduate who works in the accounting field, along with their young son make their home in a community conveniently located near the office. Congratulations George!

In addition to Dan retiring, long time office assistant, Susan Browning, also "semi-retired" to North Carolina with husband Bob and their dogs where they have built their long dreamed about home. In her stead, we welcomed Stephanie Saylor, who brought a wealth of experience working for other A/E firms, large and small across the country as a Coast Guard spouse. Stephanie and Chad have two school-age daughters and reside in nearby Occoquan. Stephanie has already become a very valuable member of the SAI Team.

Friday, May 24, 2013

SAI Engineering Presents Engineering Scholarship

On behalf of SAI Engineering, George Preston and Maria Paslick presented a $1,500 scholarship to deserving Woodbridge High School and Project Lead the Way engineering student, Jacob Lasrado, on May 23, 2013. The presentation was part of the annual Senior Awards Ceremony attended by students, parents and dignitaries. The scholarship is one of many administered under SPARK, the education foundation for PWCS, an organization that SAI has been a part of for over a decade. 

George happens to be a 2001 alumnus of Woodbridge and went on to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, where Jacob also will attend in the fall. The occasion marked SAI's return to a school where it helped launch the Project Lead the Way engineering program and also supported the County's first robotics team back in 2000. In attendance was retired teacher and mentor Don Maeyer who played an instrumental role on that nationally awarded robotics team. SAI was also pleased to highlight the contributions of popular current teacher and former electrical engineer, Carlos Castro, whose popularity was obvious based on audience response. Bringing events full circle, Mr. Castro assisted a Woodbridge robotics team's national first place win this school year. Congratulations to all! 
     

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MEP Engineer Appreciation Field Trip

A visit to the famous Greenbrier Resort "bunker" (aka "Project Greek Island") in White Sulpur Springs, West Virginia, truly brings to the forefront the importance of MEP systems that we so often take for granted in our everyday life -- that is, until they don't work. 

Back in the late 50's, President Eisenhower held meetings at the Greenbrier with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, while also secretly meeting with the head of the C&O Railway Co., which owned the resort at the time. It was an era of great concern about nuclear proliferation and the "Cold War" with the Soviet Union. After all, the U.S. had dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima to close out WWII, and the Russians had since developed their own nuclear arsenal. Many Americans responded then (and even now) by assembling household supplies and building makeshift shelters. Likewise, the U.S. government began the secret search for a fallout shelter for Congress to evacuate to and continue operations in cases of threats of nuclear destruction (as almost came to pass with the early 60's Cuban missile crisis).  Greenbrier Resort was quickly chosen as the ideal spot,  being near D.C., close to the interstate, an airstrip and rail depot, yet isolated  in terms of population and geography, coupled with the fact it had once served as a rehab facility/hospital for the war injured. The bunker was constructed beneath and in conjunction with a new hotel wing opened in 1961 with payments going through the Railroad Company so as not to arouse suspicion. Ingeniously, parts of the finished bunker facility were also used as exhibit halls and meeting rooms for conventions--hidden in plain sight so to speak. And the engineers and other personnel maintaining the bunker doubled as resort employees serving as valets, maintenance workers and the like. Thirty years later, on May 31, 1992,  the bunker was exposed in the Washington Post with its value questioned since the Cold War had ended. The very next day the government shut it down, but people continued to show an interest, much to the surprise of locals, and tours started in 1995.

While touring the bunker, a person cannot help but gain an appreciation for those mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems critical for survival, a fact the tour guides highlight throughout. Fresh air intake systems, emergency back-up power, chillers, water filtration systems and the like are on clear display and their importance vividly explained. It is also worth mentioning that the bunker now serves as a mega modern-day data center after updates for wiring and conditioning.

So, if you have a budding engineer in your family or you yourself are an engineer with a spouse or significant other or friend whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of your latest project, this is a must-see.  We also highly recommend the excursion to all you architects, developers, project and property managers out there or even those parents with aspiring college students in tow touring nearby universities such as Virginia Tech. What better way to combine interesting history with practical knowledge in a romantic, bucolic setting where you can also golf, hike, bowl, etc. (and no, this is not a paid advertisement--just a suggestion by engineers seeking appreciation and recognition).


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The "Spark" Behind our EE's interest in their field

You may wonder what ignited the geek so to speak or, put another equally corny way, what event livened the wire in the brains of our electrical design team. 

In the case of the youngest member of our team, Robert, who has worked for SAI since his high school days as an intern returning upon graduation from college, the seed was planted even earlier in his education--first grade to be exact when he landed in trouble for putting a staple in an outlet in order to see what would happen. Let's just say sparks flew literally and figuratively. 

For Badri, who hails from Nepal though he became a U.S. citizen several years ago, it was the "shock" he received when using the primitive heaters of his childhood to boil water that drew him to learn more about electricity. He originally came to the States to study electrical engineering with plans to return to Nepal to work on the hydroelectric plants being built throughout Nepal and India by Enron in the 1990's. Well, we all know what happened to Enron and with it Badri's plans. But their loss is our gain as Badri has been in the field for over a decade.

The dinosaur of our electrical team, Maury, appropriately enough, first put his interest into practice at Christmas time when he decided to use a discarded plug his grandfather gave him to juice up his train set. He stripped the insulation from the wires and bypassed the train transformer to connect directly to the track. The result: the trains flew off the track, house lights blew and thumbnails were blackened. Fortunately for his family, their home at the time had fuses instead of circuit breakers or it might have burned down. Needless to say, he not only learned about the power of electricity that day but some powerful new curse words as his mother called her dad to question the wisdom of giving a youngster of seven such a "toy". Little did she know then that those words would serve him well as an adult when he takes covers off panelboards.   

Stay tuned to learn why some of the mechanical and plumbing members of our team got into their disciplines.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Power Quality and Power Reliability: UPS vs. Standby Power Systems

There is a lot of discussion lately about UPS and standby systems (and, no, we are not talking about methods of package delivery or airline flight status). Given the shaky state of the power grid, climate change induced weather events and a greater demand for electricity both in the U.S. and globally, power quality and power reliability have become major issues for commercial as well as residential customers. 
Uninterruptible Power Supply systems, commonly referred to as UPS systems, can filter incoming power to protect against electrical "noise" such as spikes or transients (i.e., a type of pulse caused by factors such as lightning, switching surges, or kick-in of large motors), thereby improving power quality in our increasingly data-driven world. The need for UPS systems is particularly acute for data centers, office server rooms and telecom equipment spaces, or any computer-intensive environment. Typically, UPS systems also have batteries to ride through power outages, but not the kind of batteries found under your car hood or inside your cellphone, as the former are more sensitive to extreme temperatures and much more costly.
On the other hand, standby power or "back-up" systems, of which the most common type is a generator, are not battery-driven but run on engines fueled by gasoline, natural gas, propane or diesel. The duration of generator operation is limited by the amount of available fuel. Standby power systems are so-called because they operate upon loss of utility power making them valuable to businesses and homeowners alike.
The primary difference between generator and UPS function is that the system or load being powered by a UPS never knows that power is or was lost. With a generator, there is a delay between loss of power and start-up so that critical equipment such as computers will power down and must be restarted, which is why a UPS is often necessary. However, for household items and most commercial systems, for that matter, a stand-by system can come to the rescue.
And, now, you understand the essence of UPS systems and standby power systems.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why do Lights Dim and What does it Mean?

We would all like to think that dimming lights signals the start of an exciting movie or show. However, there are frequently times in our daily lives that our lights dim at home or work while electronic devices thankfully continue unabated. Given recent weather events in the East--the June derecho and the October hurricane, not to mention the occasional passing wind gust (not gas) or thunderstorm, many of us have experienced a lack of electricity, stopping us in our tracks so to speak.

Power or electricity is delivered to our homes and workplaces for the most part on a multi-phase basis. Oftentimes, power loss is preceded by a dimming of lights--followed by a complete blackout, or for the fortunate, immediate restoration to full power. If one line goes down due to tree limbs or other debris, human or animal damage or gusts of wind, single-phasing comes into play resulting in dimming until full power comes back or all power goes out, meaning an event has caused complete interruption. In other words, dimming of lights could be called "single-phasing", the loss of one phase feeding lights but perhaps not a phase affecting electronics or vice versa. In this day and age it is safe to say that most people would rather lose phasing to the former rather than the latter.      

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

School Days Ways

The start of a new school year brings to mind SAI Engineering's long-standing relationship with Minnieland Academy which currently has 10,000 children enrolled in its various programs and employs 2,000 people.  We are proud of our affiliation with Minnieland resulting in over a dozen new facilities, including the new Minneland at Belmont in Loudoun County.  SAI Engineering would like to take this opportunity to express well-deserved congratulations to the folks at Minnieland on their 40th anniversary and thanks for their many contributions to the community.  Our CFO, Maria Paslick, serves with Minnieland's COO, Chris Schuster, on the board of SPARK, the Education Foundation of Prince William County Schools.

SAI Engineering is also proud of its collaboration with Colonial Webb on the addition of a new cooling tower and two new chillers at Lake Ridge Middle School.  The school's air conditioning broke down in the spring and the project was completed this past summer in time for back-to-school activities.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

SAI Proud to Assist Made in USA Effort with Design/Build

A perfect example of a successful design-build approach is SAI's partnership with Lantz Construction out of Broadway, Virginia, on the expansion/upgrade to the Rubbermaid Commercial Products manufacturing facility in Winchester. The company is adding high-tech, energy-efficient injection molding machines at the site where Rubbermaid Commercial Products has had its headquarters since 1968 and continues as one of the city's largest employers. The project is featured in July's Virginia Business magazine on page 19.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Who Says Engineers Don't Know How to Make Fun?

Yes, we have all heard the jokes about the boring, meticulous engineers. Recently, however, another example of one of SAI's interesting projects was featured in the news (above the fold no less and with a color photo) in the Washington Post (June 7, 2012, page A-1). It showed the new fiery attraction at Six Flags in all its glory, Apocalypse, which debuted this summer. It is the theme park's first new coaster in a decade and SAI's design of mechanical systems in partnership with contractor GMS (General Mechanical Systems) out of Annapolis helped make it possible.

SAI has previously partnered with GMS on a number of major projects including data centers at the US Naval Academy, several for US Pharmacopeia, the Maryland Dept. of Transportation and others. It is especially gratifying for Maury to work with a fellow Blue Jay, a lacrosse player at that. Congrats to GMS's President, Greg Lilly, on the 20th anniversary of his championship team.

Monday, February 20, 2012

SAI Partners with BIP, Inc. on New African American Museum

The new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is scheduled to open in late 2015 with groundbreaking to take place this week. SAI President, Maury Paslick, advised Allen Kennedy of BIP, Inc., a Woodbridge-based construction company, on best practices for providing temporary power during the construction effort to be led by Clark Construction. After the contract was signed, SAI has continued to collaborate with BIP, Inc. to provide review drawings for each step of the process.

The 374,000 SF NMAAHC, which will be located between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History, has been designed as a seven-level structure, with 60% of its square footage located underground and 40% aboveground. Other unique features include the "Corona", an inverse truncated pyramid, a central water feature and a sloped lawn and hedge forming the South Plaza.

SAI's efforts on this project add to a portfolio of museum-related experience, including a condition assessment of various other Smithsonian facilities also located on the Mall and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Congratulations to George Preston, new PE

SAI Engineering Mechanical Engineer George Preston recently passed his Professional Engineering examination. George has been with SAI his entire career since graduating from Virginia Tech in 2005. We are very proud of him and wish him continued success in his career. He and wife Shanna are expecting their first bundle of joy in February. So, it is looking as if 2011 is a banner year for the Prestons!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Wishes

As we come to the close of another successful year, midway through our 15th year, we are grateful to our many clients some of whom have been with us from the beginning. While expressions of thanks are always welcome and appreciated, we recently received an extra delicious thank you from Georgetown Cupcakes in the form of two boxes of their goodies. We wish them great success with their new bakery in Sterling!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SAI Merits Newspaper Mention

SAI Engineering has been mentioned in the News and Messenger for its assistance in obtaining an energy star for Prince William County's A.J. Ferlazzo building. Maury Paslick is a registered energy star professional who has been called upon by various entities to assist in this endeavor. Ferlazzo is one of only 6,200 buildings nationwide to earn the Energy Star.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SAI Engineering Incorporated is now Woman-Owned

It's official. SAI Engineering has shortened its legal name and is now a certified woman-owned business with the same pride and attention to best practices in mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering design and consulting services that has been the case for the 15 years of its existence. So if your business could benefit from a small, woman-owned engineering firm on your team, you now have a proven choice. Simply put, as our slogan states, "We Make Buildings Work Better"!

SAI Supports Community Non-Profits

SAI has a long-standing practice of supporting community non-profits. Most recently, SAI was a sponsor for the American Red Cross Prince William Chapter Annual Fundraiser, themed this year as "Rockin' the Red". Guests were entertained by a terrific red-clad Elvis impersonator. This benefit is particularly critical for the Prince William community as proceeds are used locally to help victims of fires, floods and other disasters.




On Friday, May 14th, the Prince William Education Foundation, now known as SPARK or Supporting Partnerships and Resources for Kids, held its annual Gala at which heros in education were honored. SAI also served as a sponsor for this event the proceeds of which are used to host a Salute to Student Stars held later in the month. Our firm continues to serve on the Board of this very successful foundation supporting innovative programs in Prince William County Public Schools.

Our firm's CFO, Maria Paslick, has also been asked by the newly formed Prince William Chamber of Commerce's Co-Chair, Todd House of Micron Technology, to serve on its inaugural Board of Directors. Maria has been a long-time member of the Board of Directors of one of the two chambers in the process of merging to form this powerful business organization which is on target to be the largest of its kind in the DC Metro area.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Smart Green Design


While earning LEED® certification on a new building may prove cost prohibitive in both the short and long term, SAI may be able to assist you in obtaining energy star designation for your building, be it old or new, as we have done for one local government.

SAI has recently been engaged by Williams Design out of Clifton, Virginia, to design code-compliant interactive solar electric (photovoltaic) systems in different local jurisdictions, which generate energy and “dump” power back into the electric grid, unlike stand-a-lone solar lighting systems.

We are very proud to have participated in the complex MEP design for several other environmentally-friendly projects—the Canusa Hershman Recycling plant in Manassas, with Loveless Porter Architects, which handles pulp/paper, secondary fiber, and plastics, and Louisa Tire Recycling near Richmond, with Cross Design & Associates, which recycles used tires into crumb rubber. Both designs required coordination with overseas equipment manufacturers in Germany and Asia, and incorporated many energy efficiencies in their plant design as well. Another creative cost-saving project about to go out for bid is a central product delivery system at the Prince William County landfill which will facilitate record-keeping and track fluids for government-owned vehicles, thereby reducing waste associated with small containers and allowing purchasing in bulk.

Monday, February 8, 2010

We are Here for You!

In our almost 15 years of business, SAI Engineering is proud of the fact that our office has never shut down for a snow day. On Friday, February 5th, the onset of the blizzard of 2010, we were open until 5:00 p.m. (taking a call from an Oregon client at 4:50) and opened for regular hours on Monday, February 8th, though the federal government and most businesses remain closed. While not every employee was able to make it in, thanks to VDOT, Dominion Power and our landlord, most of our crew was on board. The next few days may do us in with another major storm headed our way, but rest assured we will be hard at work to the extent possible on projects, including three for Ourisman dealerships, one for West Virginia University, and several regional transit facilities, among others.

Friday, December 18, 2009

14th Annual Employee Holiday Dinner

For the past 14 years SAI Engineering has celebrated the holidays and the close of another successful year in business with an employee/spouse dinner at Montclair Country Club. This year's event held on December 11th continued the tradition of starting out with crackers (an English gift "cracked" open with a "bang" unveiling a trove of small gifts designed to make you laugh, such as a game or trinket, crown and joke to share) and ending with a "real" gift (besides Maury's heartfelt speech of gratitude).

We wind this year down with projects for Ourisman Toyota, the TSA at Reagan Airport, the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Veterans Hospital, to name a few. We are also very excited to be entering the construction phase of a LEED project for Cutler Hammer in Maryland. We would like to thank our many varied clients, both new and repeaters, who have put their faith in us this year. May this holiday season bring out the best in all of us and lead to a happy and prosperous 2010!

Monday, November 9, 2009

WEEC Expo - DC Convention Center

On November 4th and 5th 2009, SAI Employees attended the World Energy Engineering Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. In conjunction with the Association of Energy Engineers. The Expo was designed to help discover “green” technologies, new product ideas, applications, energy efficiency, and services for project implementation, and operations. We found many interesting products from LED efficient lighting, glow exit signs, heat pipe technology, Daikin’s VRV system, and many other “green” mechanical, electrical, and plumbing products. Hall D at the DC Convention Center was packed with over 200 booths set up, and we were able to come away with new knowledge, and many new manufacturers’ contacts and catalogs.

Young Professional Event

The Prince William Regional Chamber hosted another Young Professional event at Madigan’s on the waterfront in Occoquan on November 5th, in which some SAI Employees attended. The program was hosted by Emily Guerrero, and many young professionals from Prince William County attended. They gathered large amounts of canned goods and non perishable items there at the event for a good cause. Also there was a program director from Volunteer Prince William who gave a wonderful speech about the opportunities to help kids and adults at Christmas time. Raffle tickets were given out, and nice prizes were awarded. Some networking games were also implemented as well. Here is the Regional Chamber blog posting (including pictures)

Monday, November 2, 2009

SAI to Move Ahead with National Gallery of Art Elevator Modernization

The National Gallery of Art received a Halloween treat in the form of the signing by President Obama of the Interior Department appropriations bill. The gallery is receiving long-awaited funds for a major renovation, including of its "vertical transportation facilities" (i.e., elevators) which SAI Engineering will work with Atlantic Consulting out of Millersville, Maryland to complete.
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