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2021 Class of Fellows Q&A with Edwin Avink

By Edwin Avink, FCSI, CCS, CDT posted 08-20-2021 05:13 PM


The CSI College of Fellows has selected three new members to the 2021 Class, including Edwin Avink, CSI, CDT®, CCS®.

Edwin was nominated through a rigorous application process, then elected by the Jury of Fellows for membership. Fellowship is one of the top two honors given by the Institute.

Edwin will be inducted during the CSI Celebrates taking place at the CSI National Conference in Nashville, Tenn., on September 23, beginning at 5:30 pm at the Grand Hyatt Nashville. Here, Edwin shares what the honor means to him, and how he has contributed to—and benefited from—his membership in CSI.

What does being a member of the 2021 Class of Fellows honorees mean to you?

This is a great honor. It was not something I was looking to promote for myself, but others recognized something needed to be done to recognize the number of years and number of volunteer opportunities I have been, and still am, involved in in the promotion of CSI. And more importantly, the knowledge that has been shared within our industry, with owners, contractors, manufacturers, product reps, and architects and engineers.

Fellowship acknowledges contributions to the advancement of construction technology. Of all your contributions to CSI, which of them are most significant to you? 

Although I’ve done many things for CSI at the local and region level, certification comes to the top of the list as to where I spent most of my time, effort, and encouragement of others. Especially in regards to being involved in the many versions of textbooks, from the Manual of Practice, to the Project Resource Manual, through the Project Delivery Practice Guides—version one, version two, and now version three. I believe the passion for our industry, whether it’s the manufacturers, the owners, the contractors, and then the design entities all talking the same language has been important and something that I’ve been passionate about.

What was your first job in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Owner (AECO) industry? 

After school I went looking for an architectural draftsman’s job and was hired immediately in telephone engineering, drawing staking maps for those who were burying telephone cable. Within nine months I was moved into an architectural studio where I really started learning architecture. It was a mentoring kind of situation with a person who was job captain, a person who was called first chair, then the person called second chair, and I was placed between them as part of the mentoring process.

What has been your favorite aspect of making your career in this field? 

First it was creating the documents and being able to see the fruits of your labor with an actual facility. Then, as I gained more experience and knowledge working in the field, I gained a better understanding of how a building goes together, the specification part of the process, and how the contractors and subcontractors used the documents. Seeing what worked and what did not work. But the favorite aspect was mentoring others then watching their careers. Teaching, mentoring, and being a technical resource has been rewarding.

How has being a member of CSI informed your life and career? 

As much as I enjoy mentoring, it has also been being mentored myself by others. Many of those mentors are part of the CSI family, and the knowledge they share I am then able to share with others. It has been a great asset. The networking with like-minded people has been a lot of fun.

Also, I have been technical chair on the board at both the local chapter and at the region level, and I have been CSI certification chair on the board at both the local chapter and at the region level. CSI has allowed me to not only work with my own coworkers but also give back to the community and industry beyond my four walls.

Is there anyone you would like to recognize for supporting the work you do?

Progressive AE, the company I’ve been working for the last 34 years has been a great supporter of CSI and any initiative I may have had related to CSI and project delivery. The company has been a supporter of the certification programs and is writing the requirement for earning a CDT into the job description when looking for new employees. Also, every year Progressive AE pays for a group of employees to take the certification exam, pays for the textbook and workbooks, and gives them professional development time every week to be in the class. Spring 2021 had 21 employees in the CDT prep class.

What advice would you give to new CSI members just entering this industry?

Be a sponge. Get involved. You get out of it what you put into it. I am constantly hearing people later in their careers that look back and say I should have been more involved. I should have done more networking in our industry. At that point most of their career is over but it’s never too late. Take advantage of what’s out there but make sure there’s balance. Balance work, family, and your career. 

What do you think the most significant changes, or opportunities, will be in the construction industry in the next 5 to 10 years?

Major components of the built environment being assembled in controlled environments within manufacturing facilities with less workers. That in turn may change how specifications are written or what the work result might end up looking like. 

Any additional thoughts on how being a member of the CSI Community has helped weather the current pandemic and how you and your colleagues continue to support each other? 

Being a building information knowledge manager, or a specification writer, is always going to be required as we bring more people into the industry that need to be mentored. It seems like the person with the most knowledge of the building and the built environment is going to be a valuable resource and one of the last people to be let go (or should be) in a downturn or a pandemic. You cannot just be the specification writer. You need to be the person that knows how everything goes together and the one that can troubleshoot and bring solutions.

The more you get involved, the more people you know, the more contacts you have for most every situation. And that world is filled with CSI connections

Learn more about The Class of Fellows, previous inductees, and how you can volunteer to help nominate a CSI Member who has notably contributed to the advancement of construction technology, the improvement of construction specifications or education, or by service to the Institute, for this prestigious honor.