Jackson Towers Senior Living Award

Mark Ulrick Engineers is proud to announce Jackson Towers has been awarded an honorable mention for a Senior Living Award by the US Green Building Council. Mark Ulrick collaborated with KD3 Architects in 2008 to provide mechanical, plumbing and fire protection design. The systems design concept was a two-pipe fan coil for the apartments and a four-pipe fan coil for the common spaces.  The design incorporated the use of energy recovery units for make-up/exhaust air, high efficiency condenser boilers, air cooled scroll chillers and variable speed pumping.  All plumbing fixtures were of the low water consumption type.  Polyethylene piping systems were used for the fan coil unit and domestic water piping.

The Intangibles!

When you think of a “nerdy” profession, engineering definitely fits in that category. You need to have an above average level of math and science skills. But I feel like the incredible demand for the intangible skills engineering requires gets very overlooked. Watching our professional engineers use teamwork, communication, problem solving and critical thinking to successfully complete jobs reminds me of the intangible skills I use when I am in competition. It is not enough to just have your calculations, line weight, bubbles right, etc. Communication and coordination with the firms you are teaming up with are key as well.

I am a professional arena football player and a professional marketer. While it is true that there are athletic skills that are required in arena football that are not required in my marketing job, the need for the intangible skills remains the same in both jobs. I use what I learned on the football field and apply it to the office. In my sports profession, players get cut and signed weekly; meaning that I have new teammates weekly. Communicating with them in a clear manner is imperative so they can run the play correctly. I also must do my research on the team we are playing so I can be prepared. Because of my research and preparation, I can usually narrow upcoming plays down to three possible plays that the opposition wilt run. This helps me slow the game down and focus on communicating with my teammates.

I want to be successful in my office job, so I read and do research on the A/E/C industry just like I hit the gym and the film room for my football job. Reading about what new marketers are doing will help me understand the needs in this industry. Also, I am a firm believer in responding to other firms’ emails in a timely manner. When another firm asks for our quals, resumes, etc., I try to make sure they are easily accessible. I know I appreciate when we get our responses in a timely manner. Therefore, I try to do the same right back. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I wasn’t organized. I also remind our team about RFP, RFI, and other deadlines we need to meet. Communication and accountability are just as important as knowing how to do j„calcs and proposals.

In conclusion, I wrote this blog to serve as a reminder to pay attention to the intangible skills that make you valuable to your firm. What you really need is the willingness to learn and be great. In this past year, I have come across many engineers from many backgrounds. Some were “nerds” (for lack of a better word), and others were D-1 athletes such as myself. The things that all the successful engineers have in common with successful athletes is dedication, accountability, willingness to learn, organization and communication. These are all intangible necessities that go hand in hand with success. If you feel your firm or you personally lack the intangible necessities to be a great professional, now is the time to improve on them and reach new heights!

MUEI Starts Internship Program

This week was a special one for Mark Ulrick. We started our internship/mentor program with Mastery charter! We decided to take one student from the school and show him what engineering is like firsthand. I personally look forward to opportunities like these because not only do I have fun with the youth, but I also enjoy helping the youth as much as I can. I take a very personal interest in this because I would not be where I am without the help of people that have been in my shoes before. People like my father, brother, and coaches paved the way for me to be successful now.

Encouraging students through first hand learning is very important in my opinion. Instead of just showing up to a school and talking to students about what you do, you’re able to physically show them what it takes to perform successfully in this field. A necessity that many high school students overlook is professionalism. Dressing properly, greeting properly, and communicating properly is very important. I know when I was in high school I could have cared less about these aspects. However, the earlier you start practicing these necessities the sooner it will become second nature to you when it’s your turn to be a leader.

This program also gives kids an opportunity to see if what they are doing at the internship is something they could see themselves doing when they are finished school. Gaining knowledge of a foreign field and learning new skills is always a good thing. The internees could also use this as an opportunity to get a “foot in the door” for future options down the road. I told Nasir (our internee) “School is really preparing you for the real world. The same way you have to meet deadlines for your for homework, projects and presentations is the same way we have to meet deadlines for RFP’s and project dates. For instance, if we have 90 percent of our DD (design documents) due on a certain date then we have to meet that deadline because there is a whole team of architects and engineers depending on our progress.”

One of MUEI’s slogans is “The Professional Team that Cares.” I feel we live up to this quote every day. Whether we are paying attention to detail on a project or helping young men and women prepare for the future, we care! Quality service to our customers and our community is what we pride ourselves on. As Mark Ulrick grows, we will continue strive for excellence and lift up our community.

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MUEI In The Community

Throughout Mark Ulrick Engineers Inc. 29 year history we provided professional building systems engineering and design services for many buildings in the tristate area. Without a doubt, we do perform our services for financial gain, but the satisfaction that is achieved when we are involved with projects that create opportunities to improve the lives of the less fortunate is equally as satisfying.

Mark Ulrick Engineers is proud to have teamed up with architectural companies KSK, KD3, Kramer and Marks and WRT, developers such as The Philadelphia Housing Authority(PHA), Community Ventures and Elon, on affordable housing projects. Thanks to these companies along with Philadelphia Housing Finance Agency(PHFA) MUEI directly impacts the community through its work. Providing quality living conditions that everyone deserves is a top priority for us. Helping fellow minorities improve living conditions is a great feeling.
For me personally, I have lived close to these homes, to know that my company has a direct hand in making these buildings come to life is something that makes me proud.

Jackson Towers in Harrisburg PA, Montgomery Park in Norristown Pa , North Hills Manor in Glenside, PA and Blumberg Homes in Philadelphia, PA are only a few of the projects we are involved in. No matter how profitable your business is, true success comes when you successfully give back to you community.

Finally, as Martin Luther King Day is upon us, I would be remiss without reflecting on his life and legacy. I can speak for everyone in the Mark Ulrick organization by saying thank you to Dr. King for putting his life on the line for us every. We thank him for fighting for a cause that was bigger than himself and never giving up the fight. And thank you for continuing to inspire people from all walks of life to help others and do good in their communities.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Congratulations to Antoine Joseph!

We would like to announce Antoine Joseph, Mechanical Engineer, has successfully passed his Professional Engineer examination! Antoine joined The Mark Ulrick family in 2009, after starting his career at Pratt & Whitney. Since then, Antoine has been an asset to our engineering team. The Mark Ulrick family recognizes all the hard work, sacrifice and dedication he has put into the firm. This is not just a new milestone for Antoine, but is a tremendous milestone for the firm as well.

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Chilled Beams From the Layman’s Point of View

As I walked across the hall of our new office at 2.0 University Place to another office space being constructed, I noticed some interesting pipe and duct work arranged throughout the whole ceiling. I was confused because at first glance it looked like duct work connected to lights (see picture). Needless to say I was a bit confused as to what was going on above my head. Then I heard the contractors talking about the “chilled beams.” The name alone sparked my curiosity. Therefore, I took this as another opportunity to educate myself on the industry’s building systems.

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Figure 1: A look at The duct work connected to the mixed air supply unit at Mark Ulrick’s shared office space in the 2.0 University Place building.

Chilled beam systems use water, which carries 2 times more energy than air, to circulate through the pipes and air supply unit to produce hot or cold air. This is better than your conventional air duct system because it disperses energy at a lower cost rate. Healthcare buildings, commercial office buildings and schools are more apt to use this because the heating and cooling is no longer linked to the delivery of air. Buildings save significant money on running fewer air circulation fans at lower speeds. In addition to the cost benefits of the chilled beam system, it runs efficiently with making virtually no noise. Also, because this system is not a split system and uses water, maintenance is inexpensive and easy to keep up with.

There are two types of chilled beams systems, active and passive. Active chilled beam systems require duct work and use the ventilation system to circulate outside air through the building. This is typically used when a building needs to fulfill a quality air requirement. In a passive chilled beam system, there is only pipes, no duct work and relies solely on the circulating water through the pipes to produce heating and cooling.

I must say, as a University of Virginia student-athlete with a history degree, I never thought I would have fun learning about building systems with my family’s engineering firm. More importantly, I take great pride in being involved with such a quality company that has an active part in shaping the future of Philadelphia through designing building systems. As Mark Ulrick moves into 2017 we are looking forward to developing new partnerships that will be beneficial for many years to come. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more MUEI blogs and updates.

Dom Joseph’s Thoughts On the VRF System



Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems are becoming more common in the A/E/C industry and rightfully so. While the conventional HVAC split system is still predominant in the United States, VRF systems are becoming more apparent in the market. The VRF system was developed in 1982 by a Japanese Company named Daiken and has been prominent in Asia and Europe for the past two decades.

Why is America late getting on the VRF systems train? That is a good question. In my opinion, it should be given serious consideration by building developers and owners. Yes, the initial cost will be expensive, but I like to think of it as buying a Rolls Royce. Once you own a Rolls Royce you will not need to replace it if you keep it maintained. This is the same concept with VRF systems. Installation and periodic maintenance will be expensive, however, the mere fact that the VRF system can heat and cool simultaneously will be well worth it given its efficiency over time. The bottom line is this system allows us to deliver the perfect amount of cooling and heating to every room while using the least amount of energy possible. Also, think about having a thermostat in your bedroom without the hassle of going all the way downstairs!

The major benefactors of the VRF system are commercial building such as hospitals, large corporate headquarters, and arenas. They have various large rooms with varying occupancies therefore, the VRF system can accommodate everyone’s needs. For my personal interest, the VRF system’s best attribute is the individual temperature control and the technical advantages it possesses. This all electric, non-conventional HVAC system also minimizes duct work and saves space and reduces the amount of outdoor units required.

Due to the VRF systems complexity, not all manufacturers provide it. Thus, if the system breaks down for any reason repair can be expensive and hard to come by. Also, for high rise buildings the system can be hard to install because of changing temperature and weather conditions. For buildings that are not that high, the overall size of this system is big and can be a challenge to overcome additional piping. Granted the VRF system has its issues but I think as people get more educated and more comfortable with installation it will only get better and more compatible with all types of buildings. Because of its space and energy saving capabilities I feel designers and contractors should make the extra effort to learn this system.

With the industry turning to more eco friendly practices, it is only a matter of time before the VRF systems become more commonplace in America. Companies like Daiken and Mitsubishi have mastered VRF system design and installation. They provide training for companies that are not well versed in design and installation of VRF systems. As the industry gets more comfortable and educated with utilizing VRF systems we will see the tremendous long term benefits it will yield. Besides the initial cost, there is no other factor that is in favor utilizing the conventional split system. Yes, it may cost more to install but because of the absence of duct work, less outdoor units, minimal repair requirements and energy sustainability, your return on investment is a lot higher. Because of these reasons, my conclusion is that if electrical rates remain favorable the standard split system for HVAC will be obsolete in the coming years and you will see the VRF system improve and become more prevalent.