Q&A Session with Bob Ross, Civil Designer

Fast Facts About Bob

Bob Ross

Discipline: Engineering

Hometown: Valparaiso, IN

Education: Trine University

Favorite Movie: The Sandlot

 

 

As Bob Ross, civil designer, designs parking lots and detention ponds for Owners, he daydreams of visiting every ballpark in the country. Learn more about him below!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in “The Region” and went to a small school. I started working on a farm in about fifth grade and continued as I grew up. Even today, I am not afraid of hard work and getting my hands dirty.

 

How did you land on civil engineering?

Growing up, I would build wooden cars in my grandpa’s shop. As I got older, that turned into building a go-kart, which prompted him to say, “You know, you would be a pretty good engineer.” All of the career aptitude tests I took in school agreed with my grandpa’s assessment, so since I liked math and design, I decided to pursue it. I started out in general engineering, deciding between mechanical and civil. I love to be outside, so I decided to become a civil so I could be outside on more jobsites.

Bob Ross and Grandpa

Bob and his engineering inspiration, his grandpa.

Do you have any side projects?

My fiancé—Jordan—and I bought a house in Decatur Township that we spend a lot of time fixing up.  So far, we have laid new carpet, painted, built a new closet, laid new hardwoods, installed new lights, did some landscaping, and now we are working on new fans. We still have a ways to go, but doing it together has been fun.

 

When you’re not designing and building things, what do you do?

I also love sports and play on multiple teams—currently baseball and basketball, but soon I will be adding in volleyball and softball. And who can forget my love of the Cubbies? I have split season tickets with a few people, so I will make it up to Chicago for a few games.

Bob Ross

Bob and his fiancé, Jordan

What’s your favorite Indy spot?

Jordan and I really enjoy Sodalis Nature Park in Hendricks County. They have some nice trails and a pond, and not a lot of people go to it. We enjoy taking the dogs out there for the day.

 

What is your dream vacation?

With the upcoming wedding in September 2020, Jordan and I are still trying to decide that. We are thinking about possibly honeymooning in Puerto Rico or Costa Rica. But honestly, my dream vacation? Getting to see all the baseball parks in the country—especially Fenway.

 

Q&A Session with Brad Wallace

Fast Facts About Brad

Discipline: Engineering

Hometown: Lebanon, IN

Education: ITT Technical Institute

Favorite Place on Mass Ave: Bru Burger or Condado

 

 

Brad Wallace, senior HVAC mechanical designer, is a country boy at heart. He’s an open book and is almost constantly smiling. Learn more about him.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on my family farm in Lebanon, Indiana. I still live in the town and am very close with my family—my younger sister, her husband and four sons, and my parents. After attending ITT for a two-year Associates Degree in Architectural Engineering, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do; I landed a job with a local mechanical contractor. The guys that did the installations took me under their wing and showed me what to do and what not to do when designing systems. I really learned a lot from them, and they shaped the way I design systems today.

 

Brad’s Farm

 

What sparked your interest in engineering?

When I was a little kid, I always enjoyed motorcycles and cars. My dad bought my first car, a Mustang Cobra, when I was 15. All I wanted to do was work on the engine of that car. I was always interested in how things work; I wanted to see, touch, and build.

 

What is a lesson you’ve carried throughout your career?

My very first day working my first job out of school, my boss gave me a toolbox and told me to carry it up the straight ladder to the mechanical equipment. I am not a big fan of heights; it was one of the scariest moments of my life. I remember my boss making the comment, “I don’t know where your future will go, but if you can ever influence someone to put stairs up to a mechanical room, that will make a difference.” Now, when I am designing a system, I think about what it takes to perform maintenance on my systems.

 

Who or what has motivated you?

Growing up, I had a school teacher who told me I would never amount to anything. I can’t tell you how many times I used that to motivate me. I never wanted to prove anything to her, but I knew that she was wrong and I proved it to myself.

 

What do you do in your free time?

I spend my free time with my family and dogs. We have a 200-acre farm west of Lebanon. I grew up there and still help my parents with the upkeep and mowing. I love mowing in the evenings. I see and smell things there that you just don’t have in town; my mind goes back to times when I was a kid with my grandparents.

I also love snowmobiling in the mountains of Colorado. Between my brother-in-law, my nephews, and me, we have nine snowmobiles. We don’t get to ride much around here but try to ride in Michigan as much as we can. But through all our adventures, the mountains of Colorado remain my favorite.

 

Brad and Some of His Family

 

What is a hobby or issue you are passionate about?

Animal abuse—primarily with dogs and cats. I have a bunch of Facebook friends from rescues and seeing the abuse of animals is sickening. I want the public to know that there is an issue and we need to fix the problem. There are a lot of good dogs out there looking for homes. Just last week, I adopted a pit bull from a kill shelter, Brody. He was a stray, off and on the euthanasia list for six months. The volunteers just believed that someone was going to come and rescue him.

 

Brad and His Rescue Pit Bull, Brody

 

What’s your favorite Indy spot?

To me, the War Memorial is the best-kept secret in the city. Several years ago Wayne Schmidt (Schmidt Associates Founder) took a group over to it as a type of field trip. Before then, I had no idea what was inside, even though I drove by it daily. After I went through and saw the museum and the Memorial upstairs, I was amazed. I always tell people they need to check it out.

 

 

Our Back-to-School Memories

With design studios in both K-12 and higher education, back-to-school season is a busy and exciting time for our team. This year, some of our staff members reminisced on their favorite grade-school memories. Read their sweet, funny, and surprising stories below!

 

Laura Hardin

Laura Hardin – Senior Interior Designer

What made school the most memorable was that my mom was also a teacher there, so I got to know all the teachers very well and even rode to school with my kindergarten teacher at times. My most influential teacher I would have to say was my fourth grade teacher Miss. Butler. She was stern and disciplined, but I felt she understood me, and I never got called out in her class like most of the other kids did.

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Cindy McLoed

Cindy McLoed – Senior Project Architect

I wrote my first love letter in first grade! The little boy couldn’t read it, so he took it to the teacher who read it out loud to the whole class! I crawled under my desk! I didn’t like him anymore after that.

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Chris Hawk

Chris Hawk – HVAC Mechanical Engineer

My mother managed to convince myself and a lot of my friends to participate in the school talent show in fourth grade. We ran around and danced to Milli Vanilli with keyboards in our hands. Unfortunately, it was video recorded…but I really hope that it doesn’t surface.

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Sarah Hempstead

Sarah Hempstead – CEO, Principal

I loved school, and third grade was my favorite. I had the nicest teacher, and it was the start of books worth reading. Every first day of school picture I have looks ridiculous, though, as we always had to bring in paper towels. For some reason, I didn’t put them down for the photo!

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Steve Alspaugh

Steve Alspaugh – Design Architect

In sixth grade, I had my first male teacher, Mr. Davis. He was firm, but he also smiled and laughed a lot. I wish I’d had a chance to talk to a lot of my teachers later in life and thank them. They meant a lot to me.

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Morgan Sizemore

Morgan Sizemore – Communications and Digital Media Specialist

As a kid, I always loved Halloween time—who doesn’t like getting dressed up and getting a bunch of free candy? But I specifically remember transforming into a scarecrow in my grandma’s kitchen with my mom for the 1st grade dress-up day at school. I got so many compliments on my dedication to creepy poses and the fake straw stuffing. I thought it was so cool to dress up as something fun every year for school, showing off (my mom’s) creativity to all my classmates. And now I happen to work in an office that also embraces dressing up for Halloween, so the tradition lives on!

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Meghan Miller

Meghan Miller – Architectural Graduate

In fifth grade at Southwest Elementary, I was in a large, rowdy class. I think we had almost 30 students which is a HUGE number of students for one teacher to manage. I was a very shy, quiet kid whose mother worked in the high school just a few yards away, so with the fear of immediate and unpleasant punishment I was always on my best behavior (and a bit of a teacher’s pet to be quite honest). One day when it was time for Library, my class was loud as always, but I was engrossed in a very good book, so I never said a peep. Come recess, my class lost their privilege to go out to recess, except for me. Mrs. Havens (my 5th grade teacher) asked who wasn’t talking in Library today. I raised my hand, and my table mates vouched for my good behavior. So I was the only one out of a class of 30 to go outside.

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Eddie Layton

Eddie Layton – Architect, Project Manager

I was a pretty good speller as a kid. In first grade, I made it to the final of the school spelling bee. However, I often had a problem in school when I would get in a hurry to finish things and make careless mistakes. Well, this was one of those times. I was so confident I knew how to spell the word “W-E-N-T” that I boldly stepped up to the microphone and promptly spelled “W-A-N-T.” It took me a minute to even realize that I had made a mistake because I was so sure I had spelled it right!”

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John Harrison

John Harrison – Plumbing Designer

While saying the pledge of allegiance in fourth grade, I said, “Oh can you see my eyes, if you can then my hair’s too short.”  I had to stand in the corner, but the whole class broke into laughter.

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Megan Scott

Megan Scott – Marketing Manager

I loved back-to-school and riding my bike to and from school every day. I learned how to ride my bike and steer with no hands the year this photo was taken. It was pretty exciting and something I can no longer do!

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Kathryn Roche – Interior Design Intern

Here is a photo of me from kindergarten. I look thrilled to be there, right? Apparently, I cut my bangs myself the night before, despite the direction from my mother to not do so. Immediately after, of course, I was in tears because I did have full fringe and was left with small pieces that parted from the middle.

What We Love About Living in Indianapolis

Affordability, walkability, excitability—Indianapolis has something to offer everyone.

 

Indianapolis Skyline

Photo by Kent Rebman on Unsplash

 

It’s no longer a secret that Indianapolis is one of the country’s best places to live at any stage of life. From Gen Z college grads looking for new opportunities, to millennials starting families and buying their first homes, to retirees wanting to return to exciting downtown living, Indy is a versatile city.

What is it exactly that makes Indy a great place to be, day in and day out? Our staff has some opinions!

 

1. Never a dull moment

Libby Budack, Database Specialist

Has Lived in Indy: 17 years

Hometown: Martinsville, IN

The easy answer is low cost of living, but I like to think of it as “the biggest little city in the world.” There’s just so much to see and do in Indy, but you never have a long drive to get where you’re going. Whether it’s filling your belly with all things Indiana at the State Fair or cheering on the Indians at Victory Field, summers in Indy are the best! There’s always something going on at the Circle, and it’s a lot of fun to explore at lunch time!

Indianapolis - Victory Field

 

2. A city transformed

Kyle Miller, Project Manager, Principal

Has Lived in Indy: 5 years

Hometown: Shelbyville, IN

I grew up close to Indy and have experienced it for my entire life. I worked for 12 years on Virginia Ave and 23 years on Mass Ave; two of the city’s most exciting areas. I have seen Indy transform over the past 35 years into one of the nicest, most livable cities in the country. It is amazing what Mass Ave has become from what is was when I first started at Schmidt in 1996. My wife and I love the city life, being around others who share that feeling, and the many options for dinner, entertainment, and things to do any night of the week.

 

3. Affordable place to raise your family

Ben Bain, Business Development Representative, Principal

Has Lived in Indy: 22 years

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Indy is a great place to raise a family. It has all the attributes of a major city but isn’t too big. The cost of living is low, particularly for housing. We get all four seasons, and we have lots of parks. Plus, we can host major sporting events as well as any city. And of course, the Biergarten at the Rathskeller is one of my favorite spots!

Ben in Indianapolis

 

4. Friendly and comfortable

Caitlin Liskey, Architectural Intern

Has Lived in Indy: Two months

Hometown: Highland, IN

Just about every person I’ve met or run into here has been friendly, and with how much there is to do around the city, I don’t think it would be easy to get bored! It’s very pedestrian friendly, and as much as I’ve been reminded to be mindful while walking in a city, I’ve felt super comfortable in Indy.

 

5. Big city amenities without the headache

Natalie Moya, Marketing Communications Strategist

Has Lived in Indy: 8 years

Hometown: Munster, IN

When I first moved to Indy after graduating from college, I didn’t think it could live up to my first love and the city I grew up near: Chicago. What I discovered was that Indy has its own personality and charm that’s much more accessible. We have all the bragging rights that draw people in—employment opportunities in healthcare and our booming tech scene, world class restaurants and breweries, big-name concerts and sporting events, an art and culture scene—all without the chaos and intimidation of a bigger city. It’s all the fun, without the headache!

Natalie in Indy

 

6. Less traffic, more walkability

Lisa Gomperts, Project Manager, Principal

Has Lived in Indy: 33 years

Hometown: Indianapolis

I love Indy because of the big town feel and amenities—our pro sports teams, the Indianapolis Zoo, museums, the Canal, our many monuments—without the traffic and congestion of most big cities. I love the walkability of downtown and the friendliness of the people.

 

7. Nearby outdoor adventures

Dave McDowell, Controls Engineer

Has Lived near Indy: 40 years

Hometown: Brownsburg, IN

Indianapolis is a great community with caring people and plenty of attractions and activities. It offers both city and country living that does not require a long commute. The nearby lakes are clean and abundant. Patoka Lake is my favorite and has the cleanest water for water skiing or fishing. The Turkey Run area is great for hiking, canoeing, and general outdoor activities. Beyond the amazing experience at the annual Indianapolis 500 race, many music and art festivals are hosted in the downtown area and concerts at Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville. The Indiana Convention Center draws in many people from around the country due to the frequent conventions and hosted events.

Dave in Indianapolis

 

We’ve talked a little about this great city before. Check that out while you’re at it!

 

Q&A Session with Steve Alspaugh

Fast Facts about Steve Alspaugh

Steve Alspaugh, AIA, LEED AP

Discipline: Design Architect

Hometown: Monticello, IN

Undergrad: Ball State University

Graduate: Ball State University

Favorite Spot on Mass Ave: MacNivens

 

It was April 3, 1974, and major storms were descending on Monticello, IN. Three tornadoes tore through the small city northwest of Indianapolis, destroying it in about 20 minutes. That day changed and re-shaped the cityit also shaped design architect Steve Alspaugh.

 

What about that day changed the course of your future?

Following that storm in my hometown, the reconstruction of Monticello was a priority for the next decade. What that did was create construction jobs. I had Union wage construction jobs for five summers while I was in college.

While I was making good money for my age, the work was difficult. When I got home at night, many times I could barely lift my hands above my head to wash my hair. It was physically grueling, but it greatly informed my construction knowledge. I knew how to put buildings together before I knew how to design them. I feel like I am a better designer because I understand the physical implementation of my drawings.

 

But the influence of construction started before that, right?

Yes. Growing up, my dad worked for my uncle’s heating and plumbing contracting business and was very knowledgeable about construction in general. He passed that “jack of all trades, master of none” mentality to me.

 

Are you passing on that mentality, too?

In fact, my son Ethan is following that same path: studying architecture at the University of Cincinnati and working construction jobs during the summer to understand the buildings better.

 

We heard you have kept a few things from your favorite projects.

I have a couple pieces of wood at my desk that aren’t interesting until you know what they are. One is a hollow piece of wood with a cut through it. When we were building Goshen College Music Center, they commissioned a custom-built Taylor & Boody organ. During installation, they had to cut the wooden pipes to exact specifications. I kept one of the discarded pieces. I also keep the cut-off end of a baseball bat made at the Louisville Slugger plant.

Steve Alspaugh Organ Pipes

Organ pipe piece from Goshen College Music Center

What do you do when you’re not designing buildings?

I really enjoy bike riding and tennis, but that has been difficult since I had surgery on my knee in November 2015. Though I could probably go hit around right now, I certainly don’t play competitively anymore. Fortunately, the bike works just fine with the new knee.

I also try to get up to Wrigley Field in Chicago to watch the Cubs play at least once a year. When I was in junior high, we got our first cable television connection, and I could watch the WGN Superstation. Though I was already a Cubs fan, my love was fueled because I was able to watch them so often.

 

Tell us about your family.

I married my wife, Linda, in September 1995—exactly seven years to the day from our first date. (Coincidentally, I asked her to marry me six years to the day from our first date.) Together, we have Ethan, my 22-year-old son.

Family is very important to me.  Some of my cousins call me the “Glue Guy” because I am the glue that keeps my extended family together and connected.

Steve Alspaugh family

Steve, Ethan, and Linda Alspaugh

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie LaytonAnna Marie Burrell, Kyle MillerSteve SchaecherMyrisha Colston Drew Morgan, Steve SpanglerBill Gruen, Cindy McLoed, and Robin Leising

The Sweet Side of Beekeeping

Now that we are all ‘resident experts’ with beekeeping, we sat down with Mark Manship to learn a little bit about the honey. Albeit, what most of would consider the best part of beekeeping!

But maybe you haven’t heard the buzz about our bees yet – check out this blog first to catch up.

Bees

How long does it take before a hive starts producing honey?

A hive starts to produce honey within a couple of weeks. But it is minimal storage, and they need some honey to feed on. Especially during the winter. It can be a full year before there is honey to harvest.

How much honey does a single hive produce?

Each bee only produces a 1/12th of a teaspoon in its lifetime and travels up to 3 miles to obtain the nectar and pollen it needs. But there are thousands of bees in a hive, and they reproduce quickly. Depending on the hive, you end up with 20 to 60 pounds of honey. Honey is sold by weight, not volume, because of water content.

What are the benefits of honey bee hives?

For the beekeeper, it’s the honey. For hobbyists, it’s not a profitable situation. You also have wax, which we provide to a friend who makes soap, lip balm, and other beauty products. You can also make candles and other wax products. The pollen can also be harvested to be used for boosting immune systems against allergies. Pollen, by weight, is a similar value to gold! With the honey that isn’t high enough quality to sell, we use it to make mead.

The pollination helps flowers, fruit trees, and many other plants reproduce. For commercial beekeeping, the pollination is required for successful agriculture. This is the biggest need since we are an agricultural dependent society. Mass farming production needs bee hives at fruit and vegetable farms for the pollination, or the fruit and vegetables won’t be successful. For example, almonds, oranges, pumpkins, tomatoes, apples, etc. This is 60-70% of the food we consume.

In this area, the only natural pollinators are carpenter and bumble bees. And a very limited variety of honey bees. All others were imported from Europe or East Asia.

Want to know more about our bees? Follow us on social to keep up with the hive!

Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  LinkedIn

 

Q&A Session with Robin Leising

Robin Leising

In an industry where only one in ten workers is a woman, Robin Leising, Construction Administrator for Schmidt Associates, shines. Whether it is her quick wit, her strong confidence, or her amicable personality, Robin fits right in on the job site and is well respected.

 

 

 

Tell me about your background.
Growing up in Elkhart, I remember my dad bringing home a set of blueprints one night. That started me down my path, and I have never looked back. I attended Ball State University for architecture, but realized that I enjoy helping a building come up from the ground, not just drawing it. Unfortunately, there was not construction management degree back then, so I finished my degree in environmental sciences and moved to Vegas to work in drafting for a developer.

What brought you back to Indiana?
As I sat in Vegas, I remembered a former roommate asking me if I really wanted to be in Vegas on my own or back in Indiana with my boyfriend, Joe. Turns out, I wanted Joe. I moved home and started work for a mechanical contractor. Joe and I eventually got married and have two kids, Olin (18) and Sydney (16).

Robin Leising Family

How did you land at Schmidt Associates?
Well, I was delivering a bid on a project for the mechanical contractor I was working for at the time. When the elevator opened, I came upon a friend I had known from the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) from Ball State—Anna Marie Burrell (K-12 Studio Leader at Schmidt Associates). She invited me to play sand volleyball with her, and we became good friends. Eventually, I ended up working with her at another firm. We both left and joined Schmidt Associates around the same time.

What’s it like, doing a “man’s job”?
I like my job and I like being out in the field. But I find people in the construction industry try to put me on a different level because I am a woman—they treat me differently somehow. But the truth is, I will tell you if I don’t like something. I am no different than any of the men out there.

What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?
While I was at Ball State, my dorm sponsored a date auction. One of my male friends was one of the prizes, and I thought he was kind of cute. So, I bought him and we went to Fazoli’s and a Wynonna Judd concert. We are still married over 20 years later.

And you have another story to tell …
Yes, I am a walking survivor story for Breast Cancer and an advocate for annual screenings. I was diagnosed with Stage 1 in September, 2014 at the age of 44. They did a lumpectomy and 30 days of radiation. Thankfully, I am cancer free now, though I still go yearly to ensure no new spots appear. My mother is also a survivor, but I have two grandmothers and an aunt who passed away from it.

What do you do in your free time?
My kids are very busy, so I am typically at a soccer game with Olin or ballet practice with Sydney. But when I am not doing that, I enjoy watching all sports (even golf!), as well as going to the movies. I also volunteer at my church.

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie LaytonAnna Marie Burrell, Kyle MillerSteve SchaecherMyrisha Colston Drew Morgan, Steve Spangler, Bill Gruen, and Cindy McLoed

What’s that buzz? It’s Schmidt Associates’ New Bee Hive on our Green Roof!

In case you haven’t heard the buzz, Schmidt Associates is now an urban beekeeper with a honeybee hive on our roof.

Luckily, Mark Manship, one of our construction administrators, maintains two beehives at home and has become the keeper of our hives.  Since many of us are curious about what this means, we decided to sit down and ask him about being a beekeeper.  Check back for future blogs with more information and check out our social media sites. We’ll regularly have pictures posted with captions about the bees’ progress.


How did you get into this?
About five years ago my wife and I moved to a property with 3.5 acres of land. My wife wanted to get chickens, and I said “no” (I had them as a child and didn’t want them again.)  She mentioned bees, and I said sure. We got a nucleus hive (or nuke), a starter hive with 5 full frames of bees. Unfortunately, they didn’t last the winter, and we started over with a couple of new varieties of honey bees. We had some success, and they were thriving. Someone my wife knew wanted to retire and needed to find someone to take his bees. We reached out to some friends who were also interested in beekeeping, and together we purchased all his hives and equipment. After splitting this among our friends, we were at our peak capacity of 12 hives of various breeds of honeybees from all over the world on our property.

Though it began as my wife’s hobby, I helped a lot. With a background in carpentry, I made the hive stands and helped with transportation. Not long after we started, I had a swarm of honeybees land on a tree by my old office, and we wanted to capture the swarm to move them. We contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) about regulations to capture swarms. We were encouraged to contact a beekeeper or capture them ourselves. That’s when I got hooked. Saving the bees.

We are now listed on the IDNR swarm list for East Central Indiana. When someone finds a swarm of bees, they typically call pest control. Pest control refers them to the IDNR swarm list to have someone come catch them.

Mark Manship moving a bee swarm

I bought three new packages of bees this spring, one for our homestead, one for an offsite location, and one for the green roof at Schmidt Associates.

Schmidt Associates’ Green Roof with a New Bee Hive!What goes into maintaining a hive?
Once the hive is established, about once a week you open the hive to look for brood cells to make sure they are multiplying. You also look for honey stores and check the general health of the bees. You check for signs of pest intrusion and adjust accordingly. Another part is looking for additional queen cells, or an abundance of bees which may indicate they are ready to split or swarm and create another hive.

You need to make sure they are healthy, but if they get overly healthy, the hive needs expansion or needs to be split. I’m still learning and taking over the hive keeping at home. We’ve been doing this for about four years, but it was mainly my wife. Now the apprentice is the beekeeper. And I get to do it at the office too, which is great!

Check back in a few weeks for more information about honey production and the benefits of bees!

Q&A Session with Cindy McLoed

Ask most architects in Indianapolis where they went to school… they will most likely say Ball State. But not Cindy McLoed! Cindy’s architectural allegiance is to Mississippi State University, home of the Bulldogs.

 

 

 

Why Mississippi State University?
I was born in Mississippi, and my Dad’s side of the family is firmly rooted in Starkville (home to Mississippi State University). I grew up going to all the games and have always been surrounded by family who are fans.

It seems like I always knew that I was going to be an architect. I have always loved buildings. Even when I was playing with toys as a child, I was more interested in creating the buildings and spaces for them. Artistically, most kids would draw a picture of their house while I was busy creating the spaces from building blocks and anything that I could find. Since Mississippi State had an accredited School of Architecture, it only made sense that I go to school there. My son, Oliver, is also attending State now, and we still go down to many of the games and follow the teams.

And you are still connected to the area as well?
My family owns property in the Starkville area. My dad started a 300-acre managed tree farm in the 1960s growing Loblolly Pine Trees. It is now a family company with shared ownership between my parents and us “kids”. We are certified by the American Tree Farm System which promotes responsible forest management for private forests. Basically, they set standards for wildlife habitats and managed growth plans emphasizing staged harvest with no clear cuts. In my lifetime, I have seen giant trees come down, but they have always been followed with new ones coming up.

Tell me about your family.
I married Marty in 1994, and we have two kids—Oliver (18) and Neely (21). Marty works in IT for LSC Communications and is always working on our home or landscape projects. As mentioned, Oliver graduated from Brownsburg High School and is attending Mississippi State—majoring in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture with a focus in Conservation Law Enforcement. Neely is getting a degree in Ministry Leadership and went to Guatemala in August 2018 for long-term mission work. My furry children are Yogi and Yeager, two Golden Doodles. They have their own Instagram account—@yogiandyeager.

Do you collect anything?
I had an awesome neon collection in college. We would find abandoned neon at old buildings around town and create new arrangements with the tubes. The thing many people don’t know is that there is an art to learning the wire neon. I definitely got shocked a few times learning to do it. Unfortunately, the transformers were all made out of lead, so I got rid of all the neon and transformers when I had kids. Now my collecting is a bit less adventurous—I collect patches from places we have visited.

Do you keep anything special at your desk?
Beyond the mess, I have a Mississippi State banner. Being an out-of-state trained architect, I like to show my allegiance and love for my school.

If you ever have architectural questions, want more Golden Doodles pictures, or are a Mississippi State fan — give Cindy a call!

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie LaytonAnna Marie Burrell, Kyle MillerSteve SchaecherMyrisha Colston Drew Morgan, Steve Spangler, and Bill Gruen

Q&A Session with Bill Gruen

Though quiet upon first introduction, Bill Gruen—Manager of Energy and Optimization Services—brings a laser focus of energy efficiency to projects at Schmidt Associates. Below, we take a few minutes to get to know him.

 

 

 

 

Tell me about yourself.

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York and went to college at George Washington University with a Chemistry major and Economics minor. The last semester of my senior year, I figured it out; I had taken an environmental economics course and it just clicked. I then went on to graduate school at Boston University to receive an M.A. in Energy and Environmental Studies. That’s when I knew I wanted to make a difference for the environment by moving to Washington, DC and writing legislation or working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Though I never actually moved to DC, that dream directed my professional career through opportunities at several different employers. Whether it was conducting lighting audits across the country, managing energy efficiency programs for utilities, or working to make malls more energy efficient, every step of my career has followed that initial vision.

And your family?
I met my wife, Stacy, through a friend I have known since high school who used to organize annual trips for a diverse group of friends. The 1999 trip was to Costa Rica, where I really hit it off with my wife. Though she lived in San Diego at the time, and I was in Denver, we had our first “date” in Sedona—eagerly anticipating the much hyped “black-out” of Y2K. We married in 2002 and now have two teenagers–Julia, 15 and Eli, 13—a labradoodle named Kaya, and a Russian Tortoise named Oogway (which is Chinese for turtle). We also have had a Chinese exchange student, Candice, living with us for two years now. She is 16 and will stay until she graduates in a few years. All the kids attend the International School of Indiana (ISI).

Bill Gruen - family

What does Stacy do for a living?
Stacy’s work in global communications and media management has been in diverse environments – notably at eight Olympic Games (Summer and Winter), 11 FIFA World Cup soccer tournaments, a U.S. Presidential Campaign, and with the Los Angeles Lakers during the “Showtime” era. She was an Emmy-award winning television producer in Los Angeles, and now serves as the Curriculum Coordinator at ISI.

What do you do in your free time?
Having three teenagers in the house keeps us pretty busy. Julia is on the swim team and participates in several school organizations, Eli plays soccer and hockey, and Candice is on the cross country and tennis teams and also takes DJ lessons in Broad Ripple. I also am on the ISI Parent Association Board, as well as their Board of Directors. When I am not busy with one of those things, I love watching soccer and riding bikes.

Do you ride competitively?

No, but my wife is also a big bike rider. We own several bikes, including two tandem bikes. Two years ago, we did a sponsored ride on tandem bikes with the kids along Lake Michigan. It was three days and 150 miles total. The first day, we rode 63 miles, set up our tent and camped, and got up the next day to do it all again, and the same thing the last day. That was an adventure! One of our favorite rides is the Kal Haven Trail in Michigan. It goes 33 miles from Kalamazoo to South Haven, so you can literally ride all the way to the beach and jump in Lake Michigan at the end.

What’s your favorite band?
The Who. My older brother took me to see them in 1980 and I was hooked. In 2006, I was at the World Cup in Germany (my wife was working the event) with my two young children. I was doing daddy daycare with a double stroller in Frankfort through the days and would watch the matches in the evening. The Who happened to be playing at a huge festival in Belgium at the same time, so I got a ticket. They were the last band of the night and would start around 11, so I took three trains the day of the show to get to the concert that night.  Once they finished their set around 1:30 a.m., I returned to the train station. However, the first train was not until 6 a.m., so I had to stay up all night to get back to the kids and start my daddy daycare again the next day with virtually no sleep. It was worth it, though!

What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?
I have been to two Super Bowls (Pasadena and Miami), one Stanley Cup Game 7 (Denver), and two World Cup Finals (the men’s in Tokyo and the women’s in Vancouver).

Bill Gruen - family 2

If you ever have questions about energy efficient design, biking, soccer, or The Who, feel free to give Bill a call!

 

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