Chicago. The city where towering skyscrapers meet icy winter blasts, where the deep dish reigns supreme, and where I embarked on an adventure that would redefine my notion of cold, community, and comfort zones. At 6 PM CT, a weary band of engineers, including my jet-lagged, Ireland-time-tuned self, landed in a city boasting a chilly -14 degrees. Yes, that’s right, negative fourteen. In weather terms, that’s “I can see my breath turn into ice crystals” cold.

Now, you might be thinking, “That sounds like a recipe for disaster!” But hold onto your hats (firmly, or the Chicago wind might take them), because this tale is anything but.


Surrounded by a collective of engineering wizards, I found myself amidst 200+ years of industry experience. Imagine that – centuries of wisdom, all within an arm’s reach for four whole days. My mission? To soak in as much knowledge as possible from these walking, talking treasure troves of technical know-how. Here’s the kicker about being the newbie in the group: your wallet becomes as redundant as a chocolate teapot. Despite my protests, my mentor squad insisted that I not spend a dime. Lesson one from the ASHRAE Chronicles: always take care of your mentees. Consider this wisdom etched into my very soul.


Our expedition led us through the labyrinthine depths of a German U-Boat from WWII, and into the awe-inspiring expanses of the Museum of Science and Industry. Each day unfurled revelations and marvels that would make any engineer’s heart skip a beat. But the pièce de résistance? The ASHRAE Conference. A mecca for those passionate about HVACR (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration, for the uninitiated), the conference was a vibrant tapestry of technical workshops, student discussions, and young engineers united by the thirst for professional growth. The atmosphere was electric, charged with the collective ambition of 45,000 individuals, all converging at the AHR Expo. This event was less an expo and more a gateway to the future, showcasing the latest and greatest from over 1600 HVACR manufacturers. Amidst the whirlwind of engineering marvels, I found myself swept up in an electrifying experience that was quintessentially Chicago – watching the Bulls play at the United Center. The energy was palpable, a sea of red and black cheering with a fervor that only true basketball aficionados could muster. The game was a ballet of athleticism, strategy, and raw talent, an unforgettable spectacle that had me on the edge of my seat, roaring with the crowd. It was more than just a game; it was a reminder of the passion and unity that sports bring into our lives.


Next up on my Chicago adventure? Tackling the infamous deep-dish pizza. It was a delicious battle, but not without its casualties – namely, 24 hours of heartburn. But ask me if I’d do it again, and I’d answer with a hearty, unequivocal “Yes!” In the heart of Chicago’s bustling Emerald Loop, ASHRAE Ireland curated an unforgettable experience – “The Auld Irish St. Patrick’s Night Out Networking Event and Regional Dinner.” This unique gathering seamlessly blended professional networking with the charm of an Irish soirée. The evening commenced with a feast that transcended culinary boundaries, as the aroma of a traditional Irish Buffet welcomed attendees. Against the backdrop of the Emerald Loop’s warm ambiance, the event offered a vibrant platform for professionals to connect, share insights, and forge meaningful relationships. A highlight of the night was the enchanting performance by Irish dancers, moving with grace akin to doves in flight. This captivating display was followed by The Chicago Garda, who took the stage with bagpipes and drums, infusing the air with a folk tale ambiance. As professionals from diverse backgrounds mingled, the event achieved its goal of creating a networking atmosphere that seamlessly blended Irish elegance with professional excellence.

If you missed the Auld Irish St. Patrick’s Night Out, you missed an evening where networking became an art form.

he pinnacle of my journey was presenting in front of 50 engineers about the best practices in mentor/mentee relationships, thanks to the ASHRAE mentorship program. The experience was exhilarating, and the subsequent Q&A allowed me to share the insights I’d gained thus far.


Through my whirlwind tour of Chicago with ASHRAE, I realized something profound. Ireland, with its unparalleled camaraderie, had carved a niche in my heart. Yet, it was only by stepping away that I could appreciate the full extent of its beauty. ASHRAE, in its essence, is akin to an extended family. Strangers one moment, engaging in deep, meaningful conversations the next. It’s a community where knowledge flows freely, advice is given willingly, and strangers aren’t really strangers.  In short, my ASHRAE adventure was more than just a conference attendance or a deep dive into the realms of HVACR. It was an odyssey of personal growth, professional enlightenment, and the realization that, in the right company, even the coldest Chicago winds can feel like a warm embrace.

Who knows? Perhaps our paths will cross at the next ASHRAE event. Until then, keep the spirit of curiosity alive.



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