Written by The Business Journal Staff
Gilbert L. Nye, President
Lawrence Nye Carlson Associates
What you do: I work with junior partners and staff to engineer plumbing, fire sprinkler, and HVAC systems primarily for schools and medical facilities from Modesto to Bakersfield.
Bachelor of Science, industry technology, FSU, automotive option, 1970
Bachelor of Science, mechanical engineering, CSUF, heat transfer and fluid flow emphasis, 1985
Family: Married to Julie for 31 years, three married children, nine grandchildren, one great grandson.
How did you first get involved in the engineering field, Gilbert?
At age 9 I had an interest in mechanical-related activities. I built and raced a soapbox racer, usually winning races. At 12, I modified my bicycle to be the fastest in the neighborhood. At age 14, I helped an older friend build the fastest car in Napa County. At age 15 ½ my father bought a 1947 Ford for $25 for me to learn to drive on the 2,800 acres behind our home. I rebuilt it and modified it many times. I built many cars in my late teens including a ’62 Corvette that earned several drag strip trophies. When I moved to Fresno, I had the opportunity to work for a mechanical engineering firm, a job I felt very blessed to have and I made the most of it.
How large is your firm and what areas do you concentrate on/specialize in, Gilbert?
Our firm has 23 employees. Four of us have been working together for 35 years. We prepare plans and specifications for plumbing, fire sprinklers, and HVAC systems.
What are the biggest technological changes you’ve seen in the industry over the years, Gilbert?
The most significant technological changes are HVAC controls, from basic electric and pneumatic controls to electronic. The technology is continually changing. Today you can control mechanical systems from an iPhone. Systems can be controlled to maintain a very comfortable space using very little energy. The methods of preparing plans and specifications have progressed from manual drafting and typed specification to Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and word-processed specifications. Today 3D CAD is becoming the more common way to produce construction documents.
After a 49-year career, you’ve announced that you are retiring at the end of 2016. What are the accomplishments you are most proud of during your career, Gilbert?
I am most proud of our three children who have successful, productive careers and families. I am very proud of being able to be a part of developing the No. 1 mechanical engineering Firm in Central California. When I joined the firm in August of 1977, there was one engineer, two technical staff and a part-time secretary. We had 36 employees in the late 1980s. I became president in 1991 during an economic downturn. We had to downsize to 20 employees.
Since 1991, I have been the principal mechanical engineer for 22 new high schools and numerous new elementary and middle schools. Signature projects include the three Clovis Unified School District education centers and the Fresno County Juvenile Justice Complex, courts building and morgue. I am honored to be elected by my peers as an American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Fellow — one of only three in the history of the San Joaquin Chapter of ASHRAE chartered in 1955.
I also had the honor of chairing the Building Committee for the new multi-use complex (24,000 square feet, $3 million) at Fresno Adventist Academy, a K-12 private church school. I plan to volunteer at the school when I retire. And I have been very blessed to have connected with Ryan Carlson, PE, who will own the firm at my retirement. I am confident he will take it to yet another level of achievement.
What advice would you give a young person today who is considering a career in engineering, Gilbert?
It is my opinion that engineering is a fantastic career. It allows the opportunity to create, and observe construction of awesome projects, while working with wonderful people. To establish such a career it requires a quality engineering education with continued zest for learning. Start working for an engineering firm as soon as possible. High school students can provide a valuable service to a firm and reap an invaluable learning experience.
What was the best advice you ever received and who did it come from?
“Work hard to learn the engineering business and obtain a quality education. Your career will be a success.”
John Frank Mitchell, ME – first engineering supervisor
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career, Gilbert?
Donald R. Lawrence, PE, associate for 13 years, taught me the art of working with employees and clients to obtain rewarding results.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, Gilbert?
Born in Maryland. Moved to the Napa area in 1955. I moved to Fresno in June of 1967 at the age of 20. Began working in a mechanical engineering office in July 1967.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it, Gilbert?
Walking the neighborhood at age 6 with my hand-me down red Radio Flyer wagon collecting old newspapers for recycle. The money earned allowed me to purchase my first bicycle. Learned to work to obtain pride in ownership.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Gilbert?
Spend time with family, travel in the U.S. and abroad with Julie. Ride the Harley and improve the ’64 Nova for the few times a year my grandson and I race at the drag strip. I also use my engineering and administrative abilities to chair church and Rotary Club of Fresno projects.