Member Spotlight: Rob Spewak
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Rob Spewak, Business Development Manager for Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre at Red River College in Winnipeg, MB (Canada). In this feature interview, learn what made him become an ABAA member, what led him on his career path, and get his perspective on the future of the air barrier industry.
Rob is the Business Development Manager for the Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) at Red River College. He has been with the College since 2007 and has led the research activities in the area of building efficiency. He has extensive experience developing research proposals, managing applied research projects and supervising staff, Rob enjoys the hands-on field work with BETAC, and has trained and helps deliver large building airtightness testing services and training; he also has taken Level 2 Thermograph training. Prior to joining the College, Rob worked in technical sales in the areas of metering and controls and raw materials for composite manufacturing. He has a B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Manitoba and an M.Sc.in Bioresource Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan. Rob was born and raised in rural Manitoba just north of Winnipeg.
Name: Rob Spewak
Title: Business Development Manager
Firm: Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre at Red River College
City: Winnipeg, MB (Canada)
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in building commissioning?
A: My career in the building construction trades did not begin until later in the 2000s, however it was a direct result of joining Red River College and establishing a research centre related to improving the energy efficiency of buildings. While my plan and related education was geared toward a career in environmental engineering in the agricultural sector, I jumped on the opportunity to be involved in a part of the building industry that focused on reducing our energy usage and environmental footprint.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: I believe we do need to be working to understanding where our building failures have occurred in the past and ensure that those lessons are passed on so the same mistakes are not made, and that we move to performance monitoring of our built environment.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: Many of the building science professionals that I have had the pleasure to work with are passionate about what they do, and from them I have gained an appreciation for our built environment and how it performs as we spend much of our time in buildings.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: Being a part of ABAA helps our centre to establish new industry connections as well as taking part in its training and seminar activities.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: I am personally not involved in any ABAA committees or have any certifications. Some of my team members did work on a committee that led to the creation of a new whole building airtightness testing standard.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: I have been in the industry for approximately 14 years.
What major changes have you seen?
A: With the building industry in particular, I have seen an increasing number of sensors and monitoring networks being integrated into buildings and in particular, the building envelope. There is a need to interpret and add value to the amount of data we are capturing.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: I believe that having sound knowledge related to building science is necessary, along with good communication skills and being able to communicate technical information in an understandable manner to anyone.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: I would suggest to network with industry professionals that have been in the field for several years and have valuable experience in the building industry. There is only so much you can learn from the classroom and these individuals have a wealth of experience in seeing what worked and what did not.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten years’ time?
A: It is hard to say, however I believe that new codes and standards, climate change and the desire for increased building resiliency will shape the industry in the coming years. There will undoubtedly be requirements to build buildings tighter and reduce the energy demand to operate them as we try to move away from fossil fuels.