#Eweek2024 Spotlight | Jeff Haidle

Powering healthcare facilities. 

For National Engineers Week 2024, we’re sharing stories from Cushing Terrell’s engineering talent to learn more about how they chose their profession and what makes them tick. 

Who (or what) inspired you to be an engineer? 

There have been a few things along the way. From an early age, I always wanted to know how things work. I’d take things like lawn mower engines and radios apart to see how they worked. Growing up on a farm, I was able to figure out most things mechanical, but electricity was always a little more mysterious and I wanted to learn more. This curiosity led to a career in electrical engineering.

Who is an engineer you look up to and/or admire?  

My dad. He worked as an engineer for Caterpillar for a couple years out of college and then returned to the family farm in eastern Montana. All my years growing up, I watched my dad tackle all kinds of projects that required an engineering mindset. I watched him re-engineer lots of farm equipment; it was common that he would fix something and make it better than the original. In some cases, he made custom equipment to perform tasks that no manufacturer was offering at the time.

What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?

It’s probably up for debate as to what my area of expertise is — I have a lot of interests but not enough time for them all. I started doing healthcare design in 1999 and have been there ever since. Fault studies are also somewhat of an area of expertise of mine, which started with my work on healthcare power systems. Not that these are the only areas where complex systems are designed and analyzed, but I enjoy that aspect — the challenge of complex projects and systems.

What is one of your favorite projects and why?

In 2017, Cushing Terrell designed a new boiler plant for St. Vincent Healthcare. Electrically, the scope was a new medium-voltage service to the hospital with dual-utility feed and re-configuration of the generator plant with utility parallel. It was a rewarding project for many reasons, but primarily because I was involved with the design, programming, and phasing, and it went beyond a typical design. I enjoyed working through the complexity.

Photos from the St. Vincent Healthcare boiler plant project. Top: inside the new boiler plant; lower left: the main campus MV distribution; and lower right: the campus generator system distribution.

Tell us something about the field of engineering that is surprising or not common knowledge.

I’m sure somebody after graduating uses calculus and programs with machine language, but most engineers in our field only use basic math and algebra. I was relieved to find this out.

What is the most interesting/strangest thing someone has asked you to ‘engineer’?

We designed a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at St. Vincent Healthcare, and as a part of the electrical design, I did a few things that were a little out of the ordinary. They couldn’t upgrade all their patient monitoring equipment at the time and some of the station monitoring systems didn’t have a set of contacts for use in illuminating a nurse call light. They only had an audio alarm that didn’t indicate which patient was in need.  So, I built a sound-detection circuit with a relay in a little enclosure that sensed the audio output of the monitor and then translated it to a relay activation that could be used for running a nurse call light. The hospital liked the solution and had a hospital tech build a few copies for those monitors.

Electrical engineering is not only critical to the functionality of staff-alert systems in healthcare settings, but also is a big part of creating a soothing environment for patients. The project pictured here is St. Vincent Healthcare’s NICU in Billings, Montana.

What piece of advice would you give a young person interested in becoming an engineer?

Engineering is a rewarding and broad field. Internships can help you gain experience, which is very valuable when it comes to finding a job. Internships also allow you to refine your interests so you can determine want kind of engineer you’d like to be.

Jeff at a Glance

  • Director of Electrical Engineering with a focus on healthcare design projects
  • Living in Billings, Montana
  • Defining characteristics: Reliable, helpful, driven, and quiet with occasional dry humor thrown in
  • Interests: Skiing, boating, home projects of various types, and exploring new places with his family
Jeff in Paris with his family.
Enjoying the beach at Oahu’s North Shore at Turtle Bay.

Read about the other engineers we’ll be highlighting for National Engineers Week 2024!