Notkin Mechanical Engineers

Specialty: Mechanical engineering
Management: Partners John Rowland, Tom Ferlan, Sandy Bonderman, Mark Leinenwever, Larry Swartz
Year founded: 1951 as James B. Notkin & Associates
Headquarters: Seattle
Current projects: New Seattle Four Seasons Hotel; Future of Flight Aviation Center; UW Bioengineering/Genome Sciences; expansions at Evergreen Hospital and Southwest Washington Medical Center; renovations to William Kenzo Nakamura U.S. Courthouse

‘For more than one year now, we’ve been looking for engineers.’

--John Rowland,
Notkin Mechanical Engineers


John Rowland, a partner in Seattle’s Notkin Mechanical Engineers, isn’t worried about getting more work. He’s worried about having staff to do it.

“For more than one year now, we’ve been looking for engineers,” Rowland said. Short supply is probably hurting the competition, too.

Where are the engineers?

After fruitless efforts to recruit locally, last month Notkin placed ads in national trade magazines. If that doesn’t attract people, the firm will have to consider other options.

Rowland wouldn’t spell out exactly what these might be, but did say some firms buy smaller ones when they don’t have enough staff.

Or they hire and train young people. Rowland mentors high school students as part of a national effort to encourage students to go into engineering.

Notkin passed up some projects up because of the small staff. But given a choice, Rowland said healthcare projects are a favorite.

With the looming threat of avian flu, healthcare facility managers are looking at ways mechanical systems can be designed to contain airborne disease.

Engineers began grappling with this challenge in 2003 when SARS broke out in Canada, Rowland said. Today, Notkin’s engineers are consulting with healthcare groups on how to create better mechanical systems.

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