Steve Kalinosky is FPL’s new group leader in the Engineering Mechanics and Remote Sensing Laboratory (EMRSL). Having worked as the project engineer in Research Facilities Engineering (RFE) for eight years, Steve has worked on a variety of large-scale projects and gotten to know the FPL campus from and inside-out perspective. Steve responds to questions from NewsLine about his past work, present challenges, and the future goals.
Briefly, please tell us a little about your background training and experience.
My education is in civil engineering, but I’ve had to learn a lot about mechanical systems, electrical engineering, plumbing design, laboratory design, and energy management for the project engineer position I just left within RFE. My experience is primarily in construction project management and facilities engineering, but I’ve also been a design engineer. I worked for the US Navy, a private construction contractor, the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before coming to FPL in 2004.
What challenges and opportunities do you anticipate as supervisor of the EMRSL?
The most immediate challenge is my own learning curve. I need to learn a lot very quickly about the details of our equipment and other resources, and how we execute our testing. We have a very capable group in EMRSL that will continue doing an excellent job of supporting the Lab’s research work units for their materials and structural research needs while I catch up.
Another challenge I foresee is one we all face – shrinking budgets. We have a lot of expensive equipment that is costly to maintain. We need to be creative in how we fund replacement, calibration, and maintenance of that equipment because we don’t have a budget large enough to fund those items on a regular, recurring basis. That could mean new collaboration with private industry or other government agencies to conduct their materials testing, changing the way we charge our cooperators for those services, a combination of the two, or some other model.
You oversaw much of the logistical effort in constructing the new Centennial Research Facility at FPL. How does this intricate knowledge benefit you now?
I think the piece of my involvement that will benefit me in EMRSL is in knowing the exact parameters to which the space was constructed and having watched it being built. For example, we routinely tell tour groups that the strong floor is constructed with 336 tie-downs embedded in the 3-foot thick concrete, with a metal frame and layers of rebar in both directions at the top and bottom of the slab. But, I saw this being constructed and I have the pictures. I know exactly where that steel is, how big it is, and that everything was installed per the exacting standards we established up front.
What are likely trajectories for future work in the EMRSL?
EMRSL does not determine the program of work – we collaborate with and support the Research Work Units in executing the program they establish, so I can’t really say where EMRSL is heading. Certainly there will be changes in the technology we use to perform our work and we will embrace those technologies if they suit our purposes. There is also the possibility of executing materials research work with other government agencies or for private organizations using a private-public partnership model.
What interests you about the EMRSL and why did you pursue the Group Leader position?
I’ve just finished eight years of running at an extremely quick pace, manipulating significant budgets to accomplish some very large, high-visibility projects. Although there is still a lot to accomplish, budgets are down and the large projects are drying up. There was still a lot of work for me to do in RFE – all the up-front planning for projects, reporting to the Washington Office, energy management, and other tasks I performed must still be done and I would have had plenty to occupy my time. But, the EMRSL job presents me an opportunity to learn something new and replace that big-project intensity to which I’d become accustom. I was also attracted to this opportunity to work more directly in support of the scientific and engineering discovery conducted at the lab. In my roles as a construction project manager, facilities engineer, and designer I’ve often worked with buildings codes and material standards. I’m excited about the direct impact we have on those construction industry tools, as EMRSL executes mechanical and materials testing of wood products in support of the FPL scientists.
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Compiled and edited by James T. Spartz, FPL Public Affairs Specialist