Sanjevakumarran Elilalagan (standing) is shown discussing a design with a subcontractor. Elilalagen is a design engineer with Haskell’s Asia-Pacific team in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

February 22, 2021

E-Week Q&A: ‘Engineers are in the driver’s seat for being more innovative and creative’

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Editor’s note: Haskell is proud to join its more than 650 design professionals in celebrating Engineers Week. Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), Engineers Week brings together a formal coalition of more than 70 engineering, educational, and cultural societies, as well as more than 50 corporations and government agencies, to ensure a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing awareness of and interest in engineering and technology careers.

This year’s theme is “Imagining Tomorrow,” which we commemorate by putting our young engineers front and center. Today, we feature a Q&A with Sanjevakumarran Elilalagan. Sanjevakumarran is a design engineer working in Haskell’s Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, office. He has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Tenaga Nasional University and is a graduate member of the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) and the Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM).

Growing up, was there a problem or challenge you saw that motivated you to select engineering as a career?

“I have always been fascinated with moving parts and enjoyed breaking apart my toys as a kid to see how things work from within. That curiosity and passion is what drove me into selecting engineering as a career. Working in a design-build firm to further my career helps, as there is a balance of technical practice as well as a hands-on experience when deployed on the construction site.”

Did you have a role model who was an engineer?

“My first engineering manager. Being a fresh graduate out of university, I had little idea of what an engineer does. He shared me this quote from an American engineer, Henry Petroski: 'Engineers ... are not superhuman. They make mistakes in their assumptions, in their calculations, in their conclusions. That they make mistakes is forgivable; that they catch them is imperative. Thus, it is the essence of modern engineering not only to be able to check one's own work but also to have one's work checked and to be able to check the work of others.' This gave me an idea of what engineers do and should be capable of.”

What is the most critical issue in society today that engineers can help address?

“Climate change. With most owners leaning towards greener buildings, engineers can help to design and recommend energy-efficient systems and equipment to reduce energy demand.”

What is the most critical issue in society today that Haskell engineers can address?

“Within the construction industry, there are many technologies to help make construction more efficient, and vendors are constantly upgrading their product basket to suit such changes. Engineers can incorporate these solutions into their design, finding better ways to reduce energy demand, recommending alternative green-energy solutions and using environmentally friendly materials, energy-efficient equipment and fixtures.”

How do you envision society differently at the end of your career as a result of engineers’ work? In essence, how do you Imagine Tomorrow?

“I envision large corporations heading towards greener solutions, whether it is government-mandated through building codes or through corporation goals to reduce carbon footprint. Engineers are in the driver’s seat for being more innovative and creative in providing and incorporating these engineering solutions into current and future design and build models. As domino effect, society will be more informed of such technology and innovation.”

What are you working on that showcases the critical importance of engineers in solving problems for owners/clients?

“I am currently assigned to a coffee plant design in Asia that integrates sustainable features in accordance with USGBC LEED Platinum standards. On this project, we had to search for innovative ways to reduce energy demand and water consumption, which includes sourcing for energy-efficient equipment and fixtures, efficient building envelope, rainwater harvesting and treatment system, solar panels, etc.”

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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