In our newest installment of Consultants in Conference Rooms Getting Coffee, Lead Engineer Mohanad Abouzid, shares his unique and interesting journey to Vantage, the projects he enjoys working on, and how he spends his free time outside of Vantage. Get to know Mohanad below.
What is your background (where are you from, where did you go to school…)?
I was born in Colorado, then moved to Saudi Arabia when my father got a job as a professor. From there we moved to Egypt where I spent most of my childhood. When I decided to come to the States I went to New York with $100 in my pocket. I traveled to Maryland since I had an uncle that lived there and started working different jobs; making pizza, construction, 7-11. From there I decided to move to California, since there were a lot more engineering and architecture opportunities to use my architecture degree in a community that was more diverse. This time I had $200 in my pocket. I started working for a kitchen installer/wholesale warehouse. I told them I can model the kitchens to the exact specifications so they can purchase the correct-sized cabinets and other furniture. It worked really well since I was able to use my training in architecture and drafting.
You received your degree in Egypt, correct?
Yes, I completed my bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from the Higher Institute for Engineering in Egypt. Once I arrived in California, I was looking to further my education and started taking courses at Pierce College where I met Professor Beth Abels. She is one of the best people and the first person in Los Angeles to look at my portfolio — and she saw the potential in my drafting skills. She helped me get a position as a paid intern with Los Angeles Community College District to gain experience while going to school. After that I worked as the campus engineering modeler in architecture for Harbor College where I analyzed and modeled energy usage. That was really interesting to me to find ways to save energy across the campus.
How did you become part of the Vantage team?
While I was completing my construction management certificate from UCLA extension, I was looking for a new field within the building systems. I knew Revit really well and Vantage was looking for a Revit modeler. I was able to immediately help the project team with creating the Revit models and designing the initial drafts.
And how long have you been at Vantage?
I started in May of 2017.
What do you do at Vantage?
I do many things [laughs]. I am helping the design team to understand how the technology systems integrate with other systems in the architecture design. I am drafting and modeling technology systems infrastructure within buildings. I am an Ekahau Certified Survey Engineer (ECSE) and am using predictive modeling and heatmaps to design high performance Wifi networks.
I am helping the design team to understand how the technology systems integrate with other systems in the architecture design.
What were some of the projects you’ve worked on recently?
I’m working on the O Street Office building. That’s a very interesting project since there will be three different government entities in the building that require three different network systems. Integrating all of the systems but still having them separate is complicated, but interesting. There are also a lot of standards since it’s a state project, so incorporating all of those standards within the design is challenging, but I like a challenge. I’m working on the Antelope Valley Community College District (AVCCD) Campus Infrastructure, 500 Broadway, Santa Monica College Malibu Campus, The New Valley Hospital, and the Santa Monica High School Discovery Building. I’ve done work on the Polar Park baseball stadium project in Worcester. That was interesting since I also learned about baseball at the same time.
Incorporating all of those standards within the design is challenging, but I like a challenge.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve done at work recently?
I did an interactive drawing set for AVCCD Campus Infrastructure. I was able to impress the design team with having a set that was interactive. I also enjoy live modeling with the project managers. We can change the model in real time and don’t have to wait for markups. Live modeling is a very collaborative process where everyone is learning and working together.
Live modeling is a very collaborative process where everyone is learning and working together.
What do you like most about working at Vantage?
I like the flat hierarchy that we have at Vantage. We can work collaboratively with anyone; there is no restriction on who we can ask questions and learn from.
What do you do for fun outside of work?
I like spending time with my family, especially my niece and nephew. My nephew (2) is interested in firetrucks and motorcycles. Whenever he sees one, he gets excited. I also like working out, beach volleyball, tennis, soccer, swimming, and riding horses. I used to own horses in Egypt, so I like to be around horses. Nothing beats riding my own horse at the beach.
What’s a fun fact about you many people may not know?
My first architecture project was building horse stables on my ranch in Egypt. My dad tasked me with this project, so I designed the stables, bought the materials, trusted some untrustworthy contractors, learned from my mistakes [laughs] and built the stables myself.