Flexing Newfound Skills

Duane Kubischta melds his interests to find fulfilling career

Duane Kubischta received an advanced engineering degree from UC Berkeley and quickly entered the biotech field as an instrumentation engineer. While he loved his work, he saw friends building lives tied to the outdoors, a passion he shared.

Kubischta then took his love for adventure sports, particularly back-country skiing, and turned it into a short, intense period as an environmental filmmaker. Later, looking to combine his environmental and engineering passions, Kubischta decided to specialize in energy engineering.

He was already skilled at the engineer’s main job, solving problems, and so was quickly able to land a job with kW Engineering (Oakland, Calif.). But he wasn’t as adept in understanding the language and issues that HVAC engineers face on the job. Looking to “solve that problem,” Kubischta took courses at the Pacific Energy Center, an industry-funded outreach program that offers targeted workshops and training. On the recommendation of his new employer, Kubischta also dove into the Certificate Program in HVAC to further develop his knowledge and skills in energy engineering.

“It was great getting a really solid set of core understanding about building systems,” Kubischta explains. “I’ve taken all four certificate courses and enjoyed each one. I didn’t know anything about how buildings work; I wasn’t trained in that. So having that common language that I could use, as well as some really in-depth and cutting-edge stuff, was ideal.”

The teachers that we had—we still, as a company, look up to those individuals. We still reference their studies or articles that they publish.

Kubischta finds many pluses in his Extension education. Some of his fellow classmates brought their construction backgrounds to the classroom. In addition, as a consultant, Kubischta found tremendous value in understanding various HVAC issues from different perspectives. His instructors—who are major players in their fields—imparted their vast knowledge and experience. “The teachers that we had—we still, as a company, look up to those individuals. We still reference their studies or articles that they publish.”

Kubischta is now flexing his newfound skills at kW Engineering as a senior engineer, where, on a daily basis, he can be found working on energy audits and retrocommission reports and taking this data to help clients implement their projects. Firmly ensconced in his chosen career, Kubischta radiates the confidence of someone who appreciates his career. “Part of the joy in doing this job is not knowing what you’ll find, but keeping your eyes and ears open, listening and asking good questions and just digging to find those savings.”