A Legacy of Innovation: Black History Month 2022

What do security systems, open-heart surgery, stoplights, and video games have in common? They were all invented by, or got an engineering revamp from, Black Americans.

As Black History Month concludes, Ross & Baruzzini recognizes the engineers, architects, and scientists that continue to impact our industries. 

While this list only highlights a small number of Black pioneers, we salute all trailblazers who help inspire future generations of innovations:

Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922 – 1999) invented the first home security system and first closed-circuit television. Working as a night shift nurse, she wanted a way to increase her family’s safety while providing more time for police response in case of an emergency.

Marie devised a series of devices to monitor doors and windows with the ability to turn on or off specific areas of her home. Marie worked with her husband to wire their house, developing the first fully operational home alarm.

Her contributions created a safer world and paved the way for modern home security systems. In their self-written reflection, learn how this brilliant woman’s story inspired our Security team. 

Gerald “Jerry” Lawson (1940 – 2011) tinkered with electronics growing up in Queens, earning extra money for his television repair skills. Mostly self-taught, his curiosity in computing led him to Silicon Valley. Eventually, he met with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Lawson went on to create the first video game console with interchangeable cartridges at Fairchild Semiconductor, making way for the future of gaming. A crucial element of the invention was the use of a new processor, the Fairchild 8. Another important invention was a mechanism allowing for repeated insertion and removal of cartridges without damaging the machine’s semiconductors.

Daniel Williams, MD. (1858 – 1931) was the first Black American cardiologist who performed successful open-heart surgery in 1893. He founded the first interracial hospital, Provident Hospital and Training School, and also co-founded the National Medical Association, a professional organization for Black medical practitioners. He earned his medical degree from Chicago Medical College.

Katherine Johnson (1918 – 2020) is widely heralded as one of NASA’s human ‘computers,’ Johnson performed the complex calculations that enabled humans that successfully sent astronauts into orbit in the early 1960s and to the moon in 1969. Her story is depicted in the 2016 movie ‘Hidden Figures.’

Johnson continued to work as a key asset for NASA, helping to develop its Space Shuttle program and Earth Resources Satellite, until her retirement in 1986.

Lilia A. Abron (b. 1945) is the first Black American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. In 1978, while she was the only female professor at Howard University’s College of Engineering, she shattered another barrier as the first Black female environmental engineer to start an engineering consulting firm with an environmental focus.

Abron has worked on a wide range of projects from aging water infrastructure programs to harbor cleanups all around the U.S.

Elijah McCoy “The Actual Real McCoy”  (1844 – 1929) trained as an engineer in Scotland as a teenager. Unable to find an engineering position in the United States, he took a job working for a railroad and subsequently invented a lubrication device to make railroad operations more efficient. The story goes that many tried to copy his design with disappointing results, leading to the expression “the real McCoy.”

Garrett Augustus Morgan Jr. (1877–1963) made one of the most significant advancements in traffic control when he improved the traffic signal. After witnessing a major crash, Morgan received a patent in 1923 to add a warning light to the then two-light system. 

Back then, most traffic signals only had two positions: stop and go. Morgan’s t-shaped design added a third position halting all traffic. This would allow the intersection to clear before a light turned green. Vehicle crashes decreased significantly, and we still use this innovative safety technology in traffic control today.

Lewis H. Latimer (1848 – 1928) was born to parents who had fled slavery. Latimer learned the art of mechanical drawing while working at a patent firm. Over the course of his career as a draftsman, Latimer worked closely with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, in addition to designing his own inventions including an early air conditioning unit. 

Medical Equipment Planning Leadership Promotions – February 2022

Onward and upward! This month, we’re celebrating Pier Vettorazzi, Mischelle Keenan, Kelly Kirkpatrick, and Jennifer Lieb on their recent Medical Equipment Planning Leadership promotions:

Pier Vettorazzi
Regional Director

Pier brings over two decades of architectural and project management experience to the multitude of projects he serves in Texas. Clients demand his presence on projects, and it’s no surprise we continue to call them all ‘repeat’ clients. 

Pier is also involved with the industry through his mentorship and speaking engagements. He recently took part in the annual AIA (American Institute of Architects) Houston Committee Healthcare SES (Symposium Exhibition & Social) event and received high praise for his inspiring messages geared towards students. He will also participate in the ASHE PDC in New Orleans as lead presenter for the AIA AAH Medical Equipment and Technology Forum next month.

Mischelle Keenan
Director of Production

During her 17 years with the firm, Mischelle has been a significant part of our success through our database standards, quality control process, and simply “getting stuff out the door on time”. We look forward to her continued success in mentoring the next generation of Equipment Coordinators and Planners.

In addition to these roles and responsibilities, Mischelle continues to drive the success of the MetroHealth project. We appreciate her relentless hard work and dedication to the firm and our clients.

Kelly Kirkpatrick
Director of Procurement

Kelly brings great experience and incredible work ethic to her new role as Director of Procurement. As an integral member of our procurement team within Medical Equipment Planning, her attention to detail and dedication reflect on all her projects. She is our go-to tech guru and is always willing to help her team. 

Jennifer Lieb
Regional Director

In nearly ten years with the firm, Jennifer continues to deliver many of the most successful and profitable projects within Medical Equipment Planning. Her ability to manage, plan, procure, and install projects is a key part of her ongoing success. We look forward to seeing Jennifer’s attention to detail serve her well as she leads the growth and development of the Western region.

Stay tuned for more Medical Equipment Planning promotions next week!

Join Aviation Vice President – Managing Principal Mike Zoia During the Airport Planning, Design and Construction Symposium

Join Mike Zoia, Aviation Vice President – Managing Principal, as he serves as moderator for the “Planning Track – Digital Twins – The Future of IT/Data Analytics” session during the AAAE/ACC Airport Planning, Design, and Construction Symposium on Wednesday, March 2 at 4:15pm CT

Exploring how data analytics can be applied in airport planning, this panel will discuss how proactive applications of data intelligence support airport executives’ strategic goals and business objectives. 

The panel also includes:

Alexei HolsteinConsultant Solution Architect, Schneider Electric

Andrew JollyGlobal Digital Engineering Director, Integral Group

Margaret Martin, C.M.President, Martin Airport Law, LLC

Keith WilschetzDirector, Strategic Planning, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority

Register to join the conversation in Nashville.

Why Attend This Year’s Airport Planning, Design and Construction Symposium?

Widely known as the preeminent technical event of the year, attendees gain critical insight into developments affecting the industry. The symposium offers highly technical content for airport professionals of all disciplines and experience levels.

Workshops include a balanced mix of presentations and interactive discussions between subject matter experts and participants on a broad range of topics. Technical tracks cover planning, terminal/landside, engineering/airside, and program management/construction management, as well as two minitracks featuring interactive workshops on the airport terminal of the future, and workshops on enhancing diversity at the workplace and in airport projects.

Sustainability, IT, security, and the latest in airport research will also be incorporated into the program.

Stay Ahead of the Game and Connect with Our Aviation Experts

Along with Mike Zoia, Business Development Directors, Jim Carey and Jen Zemba, will be in attendance. If you’re attending, contact us here to set up your one-on-one during this event.

Ross & Baruzzini Director of Operations – Healthcare, Tori Gillespie, PE, Accepted into FOCUS St. Louis Spring 2022 Women In Leadership Cohort

We are proud to recognize Tori Gillespie, PE, Director of Operations – Healthcare for her acceptance into the FOCUS St. Louis® Spring 2022 Women In Leadership (WIL) Cohort earlier this month.

FOCUS gives leaders the tools they need to make a difference in their workplaces and their communities through our civic leadership programs.

“For 40 years the Women In Leadership program has been bringing together a diverse mix of women from across sectors for growth, learning and connection,” says Shalia Ford, WIL Program Director. “This experience is designed to help participants gain the tools, resources and network to lead more confidently and effectively in all their spheres of influence.”

Tori is a licensed Mechanical Engineer for the State of Missouri as well as Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, and Illinois. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a Minor in Mathematics from the University of Missouri – St. Louis’s joint engineering program with Washington University. She also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Webster University.

Tori has 14 years of healthcare and government facilities design and consulting experience as a Mechanical Engineer, Project Manager, and now Director of Operations. She is experienced in Revit and has designed heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in new and renovated hospitals and medical office buildings across the nation.

As a Director of Operations, she leads multi-discipline teams, managing scope, schedule, and budget to deliver high-performing building infrastructure systems that meet her client’s goals. Some of her notable project clients include Siteman Cancer Center, BJC HealthCare, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Despite her busy project schedule, Tori also serves as the Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, implementing and guiding DE&I programs within Ross & Baruzzini.

Congratulations to Tori for this outstanding achievement.

Ross & Baruzzini Security Vice President – Managing Principal Phil Santore Featured on FOX 2 News

“We removed the aspect of ‘you must have a brick wall to be safe,’ and that’s not really true. There’s many, many ways to keep students safe even when there’s glass involved.”

Ross & Baruzzini Security Vice President – Managing Principal, Phil Santore, spoke with FOX 2 News about his team’s work on Lindbergh High School’s security-focused remodel:

Santore is working with Lindbergh High School in St. Louis, MO to add comprehensive high-tech security features. He explains all school security starts with three basic areas:

  1. Physical components (sidewalks door, frames, lighting)
  2. Technology (cameras, card readers, intercom)
  3. Human factor (properly-trained staff)

Lindbergh High School’s new design combines the school’s former five buildings into just one large building. It will have new open common areas, open classrooms and hallways, a new gym, and a new performance hall. Santore says, even though the building has glass throughout, he included safe spaces that hide students from intruders.

The school will also have security cameras and locks on all doors. Superintendent Dr. Lake says the biggest and most important feature is one large secure entryway, with bullet-resistant glass.

“Our wonderful kids and families are probably going to get to come to the building that’s one of the safest and most innovative places to learn, I’ll even say in the state of Missouri, maybe even the Midwest,” Lake said.

“It just makes everybody safer and just more comfortable coming in. When you’re comfortable, you can learn better,” said Freshman John Eckarich.

Santore says the best safety tool of all is to value mental health and counseling to students at all schools — to prevent any kind of tragic incident.

Visit our portfolio to learn more about Phil Santore’s work and our full suite of Security planning services.

Why Businesses Need to Start Taking Smart Building Security Seriously

Quick Insights:

  • The increased prevalence of smart office buildings presents a unique security concern.
  • Businesses need to look at physical security as another branch of cybersecurity in order to mitigate risk.
  • At Ross & Baruzzini, we take a holistic approach to security to ensure maximum protection.

In October 2021, Meta (formerly Facebook) was down for five hours, causing an upset among both the public and the company’s employees. When everything went down, access badges also stopped working. This left Meta employees locked out of their own office buildings.

via The Guardian

Clearly, even tech giants such as Meta must deal with the unexpected, and employees weren’t ready for the outage to affect their day-to-day tasks. Although this incident was the result of a simple error, it highlights a pressing problem that most companies continue to overlook: the safety and security of their own office buildings.

The Convergence of Physical Security and Cybersecurity

Smart office buildings provide huge boosts to convenience and flexibility for employees and management. However, each new smart element comes with vulnerabilities that need to be considered. Connected HVAC units, smart security cameras, remotely managed access controls, and other tech create potential entry points that bad actors can exploit.

This is more than a theoretical risk. In 2016, network-connected cameras and network video recorders were used to take down several important internet sites and platforms, such as Netflix, Google, Spotify, and Twitter. More recently, a security flaw in Cisco’s Discovery Protocol was uncovered last year that affected not only routers but also desk phones and webcams. In both instances, the devices were dangerous because they could be used to infect or take down entire networks.

There’s a lack of cohesiveness when it comes to security as a whole, creating vulnerabilities that put smart office buildings at risk. For example, a computer with important data might be protected from cybersecurity attacks. But if the server room the computer is connected to isn’t physically secure, the computer becomes vulnerable.

As offices become smarter and more open, businesses’ security challenges are only going to increase. It’s time for companies to take the security of their physical buildings as seriously as they take the security of their networks. Installation teams rarely double as maintenance teams, and most IT departments aren’t trained in operational technology. Unless companies create dedicated teams or partner with an organization that takes a holistic approach to security (such as Ross & Baruzzini), they might be at risk.

Navigating Modern Challenges to Cybersecurity

The convergence of physical security and cybersecurity has ramifications for a variety of industries. For example, in national defense, the building’s weapon security is as important as safeguarding the weapons. But even in more mundane environments, there are new vulnerabilities that have to be addressed.

Many of today’s workspaces are much more flexible than the traditional cubicle layout. Employees are able to work anywhere on campus, moving freely from desk to desk and building to building. Co-working businesses take this flexibility to an even greater extreme, offering spaces all over the world to virtually anyone willing to pay for them. It’s hugely convenient and can be a great boon to productivity, but it also has the potential to be a security nightmare.

Coworking spaces offer convenience as well as increased risks.

For example, to increase the convenience of these types of working environments, many organizations will offer blanket access to anyone with a badge. This means a Seattle-based remote worker can visit a San Francisco co-working space without any security checkpoints or safeguards. Not only does this call for an increase in physical security safeguards, but it also creates a number of potential challenges to cybersecurity that IT departments often overlook.

To properly address the unique needs of building security, companies should bring in a consulting firm with expertise in cybersecurity and building operations. Our company brings a wealth of experience across markets. Not only do we have dedicated teams of cybersecurity experts and physical security experts, but we’re also part of a much larger organization filled with OT experts. Our ability to handle every aspect of security in-house is a competitive differentiator.

Building security should no longer be viewed as separate from cybersecurity. After all, smart office buildings will only become more common. Businesses need to get serious about safety if they don’t want to find themselves dealing with a preventable security breach down the road. To learn more about Ross & Baruzzini’s approach to security, contact the team today.