When Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine listed its “40 Under 40” best young engineers in North America for 2017, two of them were from the same Kentucky company. Mechanical engineer Jeremy Kelly and electrical engineer Zachary Schneider work for CMTA Energy Solutions, a company headquartered in Louisville with offices in Lexington and Jeffersonville, Indiana, as well as Cincinnati, Houston and two cities in Virginia.
Jeremy Kelly is on the 14-person management team of the firm. He is a certified professional engineer (PE), certified energy manager (CEM), certified healthcare facility design professional (HFDP) and a LEED-accredited professional (LEED AP). He joined the company – whose initials once stood for the founders’ names – in 2001 while he was still at the University of Kentucky, and then left CMTA for a few years to work for an HVAC manufacturer before returning in 2012, making him a “boomerang” employee.
That was when he and another engineer started a new division at CMTA that has grown from two to 38 people. They renovate schools and other state-owned buildings that have old and outdated infrastructures but no money to replace heating and cooling systems, lighting or plumbing.
“What we do is really cool, and it is a great story we love to tell,” Kelly said. “We are able to come in and replace these systems with new state-of-the art systems that greatly improve the building, especially classrooms for students, and the project all gets paid for through the reduction in the energy usage as a result of the project.”
Kelly is appreciative of winning the “40 Under 40” award for the credibility it gives him when competing for other companies on projects.
“It also helps me relate to a lot of the engineers we recruit and hire because CMTA has a ton of young engineering talent,” he said. “Like many businesses, our biggest asset by far is our people and we look for the best and brightest. Successful people are drawn to other successful people.”
Many of the younger engineers at CMTA who are a few years removed from school want to learn and grow and be given responsibility and accountability.
“We make it a point to nurture that,” Kelly said. “That is what happened with me. It wasn’t that I was smarter or better at anything than anyone else, but I probably cared more than most about trying to be the best. We want them to keep that drive because that is what keeps pushing the company forward.”
Zachary Schneider, company principal, joined CMTA as an intern in August 2002, and became a full-time electrical engineer in 2005. He designs and oversees the mechanical-electrical-plumbing (MEP) systems for healthcare and K-12 buildings.
“A lot of people don’t realize this MEP engineering exists,” he said. “They assume that architects are the only ones who design buildings.”
In his industry, the principles of power and electricity haven’t changed much, but Schneider has seen big advancements in lighting technology, from incandescent (which is still being used in certain places), then fluorescent T-12 to T-8 to T-5 and
now only LED lighting is used in CMTA buildings.
“The thing I love most about my job is the vast array of the project types I have been able to work on,” he said, citing schools, hospitals, churches and stadiums on a long list. His favorite, and largest, project so far has been a 550,000-s.f. high school in Alvin, Texas.
“I hope to stay with CMTA long-term,” Schneider said. “I’d love to be able to say I worked for the same company my entire career. I see me moving up further into management and being an integral part of the future success of this company.”