After 42 years in the sheet metal industry, engineer Pat Brooks is retiring, or as he puts it, “semi-retiring.” He’s continuing to work on a part-time basis with his employer, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA), on a final project with Spiral Duct Manufacturers Association (SPIDA) – where he serves as technical committee chair.

When asked what the most rewarding part of his career is, Brooks said “I like helping sheet metal contractors solve problems. SMACNA has over 30 manuals, we help them navigate them all. And with our technical university seminars, it was always rewarding to train new sheet metal workers.”

Brooks, who holds a Masters in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Ohio State, has also taught duct design and acoustics at the University of Wisconsin.

In the apex of Brook’s career, he’s coordinated between SMACNA and SPIDA to produce needed data and standards that have helped to propel both organizations forward as global leaders in standardizing the sheet metal ductwork industry.

Author of the industry-leading newsletter SPIDA Pipeline, Scott Witherow of Design Polymerics knows Brooks’ career well. In his most recent installment, he said Brooks “has been a vital and active member of SPIDA.”

“Pat was key to getting SPIDA’s most ambitious project over the goal line: spiral flat oval testing,” Witherow added. “The multi-year project, as well as with some SMACNA research, lead to the eventual addition of the flat oval chart in the SMANCA HVAC Duct Construction Standards Manual.”

Brooks started his career in 1981 at one of the first manufacturers of spiral duct, United McGill Corporation in Groveport, Ohio – where he managed an engineering airflow and acoustic department that researched ductwork, fittings, panel housings and leak detection equipment. As director of manufacturing services, he became increasingly involved with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

“I was working on ASHRAE projects since I got into the business in 1981,” Brooks said, adding he got the ASHRAE Duct Design Guide across the finish line and eventually became chair of the duct design database committee before retiring from ASHRAE duties this year. Engineers designing ductwork systems can find loss coefficients for over 200 fittings thanks to the database.

Brooks became a general manager for Eastern Sheet Metal in 2015, and left that role in 2018 to work for SMACNA as a senior project manager. While he’s been involved with ASHRAE for his whole career, Brooks said his involvement with SPIDA began when he started at Eastern Sheet Metal.

“The general manager before me was a member of SPIDA and thought it’d be a good idea for me to stay involved,” Brooks said, adding this sparked several research projects, including a SPIDA-funded project testing corrugated spiral duct under negative pressure at Tennessee Tech University.

When he started to think about retirement in 2018, “SMACNA offered to have me retire with them. They thought it was good for me to maintain my status with SPIDA and focus on this work.”

Brooks is working with the university researchers in retirement to analyze the data, to determine if contractors could use standard positive pressure gauges under negative pressure in corrugated duct, with a check for non-corrugated as well.

While this project is almost finished, Brooks has other projects with SMACNA he agreed to see through in retirement, including revising the HVAC Systems Duct Design Manual, along with the Sound and Vibration Manual.

“SMACNA continues to develop their manuals by working closely with sheet metal contractors, helping them to standardize their work and ensure code compliance,” Brooks said, noting he’s contributing to apps SMACNA is developing.

“You can take one of our manuals and it looks like it could take 10 years to fully understand it. Multiply that times 30. At the end of the day, we want to make the information as accessible to sheet metal contractors as we can,” he said, concluding the effort will continue after his semi-retirement turns full.

Tony Kocurek, president of SMACNA, said he’s grateful for Brooks’ eagerness to contribute to manual development even in retirement.

“Pat has been an essential part of the SMACNA team for over forty years. His expertise in ductwork systems has helped the thousands of SMACNA members and countless others who rely on our manuals,” Kocurek concluded. “There are only a few folks whom you can say singlehandedly changed the HVAC and sheet metal industry for the better and Pat is one of those people. On behalf of all SMACNA members, I want to offer Pat my sincere gratitude and well wishes for a well-deserved retirement.”