Oct 04

Iowa State University Announced as Winner of Green Energy Challenge

Congratulations Iowa State University!


Iowa State University was named the winner of the Green Energy Challenge at the Opening General Session of NECA 2015 San Francisco on Sunday.

The team from Iowa State beat out two other finalists, Penn State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology, for the top spot.

The three teams made their final presentations and fielded questions form a jury of electrical professionals on Saturday. The jury then deliberated and made their final decision.

The project from Iowa State was upgrading an administrative services building on campus. Project results included increasing the building resiliency of the facility, incorporating green energy generation and implementing a complete lighting retrofit with an attractive payback period.

Team members include Lucas Baxter, Caleb Bonderer, Dylan Busby, Joe Hahn, Maggie Holt, Joe Kern, Bryan Marroquin, Regan Smiley, Rick Smith and Britta Sortland. The group’s faculty advisors are Jenny Baker and Beth Hartmann.

There was also a poster board contest component of the challenge. Seven poster boards were displayed at Moscone Center South to be judged.

Purdue University’s poster board was name the winner Sunday. Purdue’s team of students took on an energy retrofit project at Lambert Fieldhouse.

The project proposal involves adding a 150 KW Photovoltaic system to the roof of the athletic facility and upgrading the LED fixtures throughout the building. Along with the upgraded technology, daylight harvesting will be used to light the main part of the fieldhouse.

Team members include Joe Seacat, Alec Bucks, Riley Seahorn, Collin Seren, Taran Murphy, Wesley Gunning, Nick Myers, Taylor Samsil and Evan Solgere. The group’s faculty advisors are Brian Loss and Scott Santon.

Oct 04

Innovative Industry Leaders Gather to Discuss Business Development

NECA member and District 7 Vice President Skip Perley led a group of innovative leaders in the electrical industry to discuss business development at a meeting Saturday at NECA 2015 San Francisco.

Perley focused on how contractors can turn their everyday businesses in a way that separates themselves from their competition.

The first speaker was Jake Millan of Tesla Energy. His goal was to show contractors how to come up with ideas to drum up new business.

The mission of Tesla, he said, is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. He noted that the first smart car has Tesla batter in it, and the company now has the largest distribution of batter systems in the world.

Millan also described the Tesla’s array of products, including electric cars and batteries, in detail and took questions from the audience.

Next, Michael J. Johnston, NECA’s executive director of standards and safety, talked about the business opportunities of NFPA 70E.

He also provided an overview of sharing the responsibility between employers and employees and how the standard’s requirements are integrated into electrical contractors’ operations. Finally, he discussed the hierarchy of safety controls.

Electrical safety is a shared responsibility between employers and employees, he concluded, and 70E requirements are an integral part of electrical contractor operations.

“Right away, safety pays, and safety training pays,” said Dan Henrich of PDE Total Energy Solutions.

To cap off the afternoon, Tim Speno, President and CEO of E2E Summit, introduced a presentation from Ekso Bionics, which helps survivors of stroke, spinal cord injury and other forms of lower extremity to walk again.

Oct 04

Education Pioneer Sal Khan Talks About His Global Vision for Learning

Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, a global nonprofit with the mission of providing free, high-quality education to “anyone, anywhere” in the world, shared his vision for learning at the Opening General Session NECA 2015 San Francisco on Sunday.

The impetus of Khan Academy started about 10 years ago, when Khan heard from an aunt that his cousin was having trouble understanding certain math concepts.

“She had become convinced she didn’t have the math gene,” Khan said.

Soon, after he got off work, Khan started doing lessons with his cousin through instant messaging and she started to improve. He started tutoring other cousins as well. Scheduling conflicts led Khan to posting lessons on YouTube and it grew from there.

A hedge fund analyst with degrees from MIT and Harvard, Khan ultimately decided to quit his job and pursue his work in education. But it wasn’t without doubts. He received $100,000 from a key backer early on, which helped him get things off the ground.

Then, he got noticed by Bill Gates. And Google reached out. That momentum enabled Khan to get office space and start building a team.

Khan said Khan Academy is set up similar to the way you play a video game. You have to master one level before you can move to the next, and you can’t ignore the gaps in knowledge.

Khan Academy’s website now provides self-pacing software and unlimited access to over 5,100 instructional videos on its YouTube channel covering everything from basic arithmetic to college-level science and economics. It’s the most-used library of educational videos on the web, with 10 million unique users per month, more than 300 million lessons delivered, and over 1.4 billion exercises completed.

Khan Academy is based in Mountain View, California, with about 100 full-time engineers and educators. Some students have become interns and, in some cases, full-time employees.

“In a bizarre way, we’re solving our own labor problem,” Khan said.

Khan said he feels like the world is at a special time in history. Education, he hopes, is becoming more like food and shelter, a “fundamental human right.”

Before Khan took the stage, conventioneers heard from NECA President David A. Hardt. Hardt said leaders have made a lot of progress moving the industry forward and told those in the audience to ask their chapter governors for updates.

Hardt also mentioned the Value of Membership Task Force and the important work it is doing.

“NECA provides tremendous value, but many of our members don’t knoe what’s available to them,” he said.

He added the greater participation will ensure that members’ needs are met.

“We’re a great association,” he said. “Thank you for your support.”

Former NECA President Dennis F. Quebe later provided an update on the Academy of Electrical Contracting and its recent progress. Thirteen new inductees were introduced and installed.

Alex Owen, chairman of NECA’s Political Leadership Council, also shared remarks and encouraged members to be engaged to make sure their voice is heard.

Oct 03

Green Energy Challenge Teams Present to Panel of Industry Experts

Three NECA Student Chapters made their case at the 2015 Green Energy Challenge on Saturday as NECA 2015 San Francisco opened at Moscone Center South.

Teams from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Penn State University and Iowa State University made presentations on projects focused on energy efficiency and savings to buildings on their respective campuses. Each team developed a back-up power system and resiliency plan for an existing facility that had demonstrated critical power needs.


The jury for this year’s Challenge included the following electrical contractors and industry partners:

  • Gerard Darville, Lutron Electronics
  • Angela Hart, Rosendin Electric
  • Kristian Reyes, Graybar
  • Brad Weir, Kelso-Burnet Co.
  • Sonja Rheaume, Christenson Electric
  • Eduardo Mariscal-Hay, PhD, Consultant
  • Adam Rude, ERMCO, Inc.

After each of their presentations, which lasted about 15 minutes, the Student Chapters fielded questions from the jury. They jury held deliberations directly after the presentations, and a winner will be announced at the Opening General Session on Sunday.

Poster presentations were also displayed at the Challenge. They came from two of today’s finalists, Iowa State and the Illinois Institute of Technology, as well as Kennesaw State University, Oregon State University, the University of Washington and the University of Toronto.

Oct 03

Welcome to NECA 2015 San Francisco!


You have arrived at the electrical construction industry’s No. 1 event of the year — The NECA Convention and Trade Show — an exciting mix of opportunities for education, inspiration, networking, and fun!

For all the information you need, go to www.necaconvention.org.

There, you’ll be able to view a full schedule and get to know your way around San Francisco.

Here are a few things you can look forward to: 

  • NECA will kick things off by hosting the opening reception at the world-famous Exploratorium on Saturday night. Conventioneers and guests are invited to gather at a mad scientist’s penny arcade, an inventor’s funhouse, and an experimental laboratory all rolled into one eye-popping, playful place. Enjoy refreshments, delicious nibbles, stunning views of the Bay, camaraderie, and, of course, endless exploration!
  • You will also get to hear from several dynamic speakers while you’re here.
  • The Opening General Session will feature Sal Kahn, founder and CEO of the Khan Academy, a not-forprofit organization with the mission of providing a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere. And endurance swimmer, broadcaster and noted swimmer Diana Nyad is sure to impart some valuable lessons during the Closing General Session.
  • Preconvention workshops start on Saturday. Other meetings to attend include the NECA Business Development Meeting (Saturday), the Women in NECA Roundtable (Monday) and the NECA Student Chapters Job Fair (Saturday).
  • Educational tracks include business management; labor relations (new this year!); leadership and communications; project management; standards and safety; and technology, process and innovation.
  • If you’re ready to take in a rousing concert and dance the night away, the Warfield is the perfect spot. Join us Tuesday night at our Closing Celebration for an exclusive concert by chart-topping musician Kenny Loggins. Seating and an open bar will be available.

Don’t forget to share your experiences while in San Francisco, use the tag #NECA15 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr.

We hope you enjoy your stay in San Francisco and get the most out of NECA 2015 San Francisco. See you around!

Oct 03

2015 Highlights: Top Can’t-Miss Events at NECA San Francisco


With so much to experience at NECA, US Builders Review has pulled together some can’t-miss highlights. The industry’s biggest and brightest event features countless workshops, exhibitions, product showcases, networking opportunities, dynamic speakers and so much more.

Continue reading on US Builders Review »


The 2015 NECA Convention and Trade Show kicks off Saturday, Oct. 3, and runs through Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Moscone Center South in San Francisco. The industry-leading event features countless workshops, exhibitions, product showcases, networking opportunities, dynamic speakers and so much more.

With so much to experience at the industry’s biggest and brightest event, US Builders Review has pulled together some can’t-miss highlights.

Convention Must Sees

Opening Reception at the Exploratorium Museum – Saturday, Oct. 3, 7:15 – 9:30 p.m.

One of San Francisco’s landmarks, newly relocated at Pier 15, the Exploratorium Museum offers more than 650 interactive, educational exhibits about science, art and changing human perception. NECA invites attendees to come see the wonders at the Exploratorium. Attendees will experience the exhibits firsthand while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment, all with waterfront views of San Francisco Bay.

Closing Celebration at The Warfield Theater – Tuesday, Oct. 6, Doors at 7 p.m. – Concert at 8 p.m.

The Warfield is one of San Francisco’s largest historic concert venues. With 2,300 seats, the venue has hosted thousands of notable artists over the years. This year, NECA invites attendees to round out their convention experience with a concert by chart-topping, Grammy-award winning musician Kenny Loggins.

Special Events

Student Chapters Job Fair – Saturday, Oct. 3, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.

With unprecedented labor shortages across the country, the importance of finding young talent is pressing for NECA contractors. Following the Green Energy Challenge Student Competition – another event well worth stopping by to see Saturday – is NECA’s second annual job fair, part of the Student Forum at the 2015 Convention. NECA invites contractors looking to find everything from interns to part-time and full-time positions to attend this event and meet some of the most talented students from around the country.

NECA Convention event

Safety Roundtable – Sunday, Oct. 4, 8 – 10 a.m.

If there’s one hallmark of a NECA contractor, it’s the dedication to keeping employees safe on the job. This is the sixth annual Safety Roundtable. The two-way discussion opens the dialogue between NECA’s safety-related activities and the needs of contractors across the industry. The safety roundtable is moderated by Michael J. Johnson, executive director of standards and safety for NECA and Wesley Wheeler, director of safety for NECA.

Before the roundtable discussion, Johnson and Wheeler, as well as James T. Dollard, Philadelphia Electrical JATC, James McGowan, Quanta Services, and Palmer Hickman from the electrical training ALLIANCE, will offer in-depth safety trainings with five pre-convention workshops held Friday, Oct. 2, and Saturday, Oct. 3.

  • OSHA ET&D 10-hour Train-the-Trainer Course
  • Creating and Maintaining Effective Safety Programs and Policies
  • 2014 National Electrical Code (NEC) Summary of Significant Changes
  • Temporary Power Installations
  • Significant Changes in the NFPA 70E-2015 and Employer’s Responsibilities

Women in NECA (WIN) roundtable – Monday, Oct. 5, 2 – 4 p.m.

WIN supports the professional development of women working in the electrical industry through education and networking events. The organization encourages more women to explore careers in the electrical industry. The annual WIN Roundtable is an open forum and chance for women from the executive level to newcomers to the industry to connect. A joint reception with NECA Future Leaders will be held immediately after the WIN Roundtable.


New leadership and communications workshops – Saturday, Oct. 3, 8 a.m., 1 p.m.

Attendees can benefit from a range of pre-convention and convention courses, covering a broad scope of topics from labor relations and business management to leadership and professional development. New this year is a series of workshops by Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., a leader in the field of mind/body medicine. Her research focuses on the relationship between stress and medical conditions, as well as the impact of lifestyle habits on mental and physical health.

Domar will offer research-driven insight and practical exercises in physical and psychological strategies to reduce stress.

Trade Show Floor

Showstopper Showcase – The industry’s No. 1 product showcase and awards program

Sunday, Oct. 4, 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 5, 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.  

The Showstopper Showcase is a leading awards program sponsored by NECA and ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Magazine. This ongoing display at the convention draws people from around the world. The Showstopper Showcase exhibit, found on the trade show floor, presents new products and services that have been available in the electrical market since Jan. 1, 2014. The product selection is completed by a panel of independent, expert judges from the industry. This display is a must see because all of the award-winning products and services are designed to help electrical contractors improve efficiency on the job.

Oct 01

NECA 2015: Chapter Managers Explain How to Get the Most out of San Francisco

Get the most out of NECA 2015 – Chapter Managers explain how.

US Builders Review turned to local chapter managers at the top of their organizations to gather advice on how to navigate the industry’s most talked about event. With hundreds of exhibitors on the trade show floor, educational sessions, new product demonstrations, speakers, networking events and so much more, the amount to do, see, hear and experience can be a bit overwhelming.

Continue reading »

Sep 29

Getting Social at #NECA15

Make the most of NECA 2015 San Francisco by taking advantage of our social networks!

The NECA 2015 San Francisco App, social channels, and official website have tremendously enhanced networking, solutions, and productivity capabilities.

Downloading the app connects you to the full convention schedule (with the ability to sort by education track listing, topic, or speakers), listing of speakers with bios, and access to #NECA15 social media. Additionally, the app offers a customizable on-site planner and an interactive map of the 2015 NECA Show floor. The app is completely free and provides anything you need to know about #NECA15 and/or San Francisco, complete with information on hotels, tours, and restaurants at your fingertips. Scroll over and follow us on our social channels including Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to stay up to date before, during, and after the Convention.

#NECA15 will even offer a selfie station where participants are given the opportunity to take fun selfies with all their NECA friends. Posting their chosen picture to Instagram using our hashtag (#NECA15) offers them a chance to win a custom NECA selfie stick.

We’ll see you there!