Michigan’s tallest skyscraper carries the mark of two Macomb alums, separated by four decades, two automobile companies and a current of energy-conscious innovations.
The Renaissance Center’s main tower stands 73 floors over Detroit and is illuminated at night by blue LED lighting. Now the headquarters of General Motors, Shane Szeszycki is the lead engineer on a project to retrofit the building’s outdated environmental control systems.
“We are converting the old systems to modern, automated ones,” explains Szeszycki, who is graduating from Macomb’s Climate Control program this winter, after completing his last two general education credits (Spanish) online. “I oversee all the logic programming for equipment, the networking of the computers and controllers, the systems used to monitor energy usage for the whole building and designing systems to create better efficiency.”
Part of a revitalization project for Michigan’s largest city, The Renaissance Center owes its name to Roger Lennert, a Macomb alumnus and marketing executive who died in 2015. Lennert ‘s suggestion was one of more than 140,000 received in a contest sponsored by Ford Motor Company to christen what was intended by its CEO to be the centerpiece of Detroit’s revitalization efforts in the 1970s. Szeszycki’s path to the GMRENCEN, as it is now called, was a bit more intricate.
“I decided to enter the energy management field after a contractor came (to a class at Macomb) and spoke about it,” relates Szeszycki, who graduated from Port Huron High School in 2014. “I was already doing HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) work for two years and enjoyed it. I’ve always had a niche for computers and programming and (energy management) combines the two.”
Working full time and going to school is a challenge faced by many college students. Szesycki credits his determination to necessity and curiosity.
“I grew up with a single mom, and we didn’t have much growing up. I’ve always wanted to find ways to make sure my mom never has to worry again,” relates Szesycki. “I am also very involved with the work because I have a drive to always figure things out and make them better.”
Because of his education and ample experience, Szesycki has been invited to return to Macomb next year to teach a class in its revamped Building Performance and Energy Management program, one of few like it in the state. Following the lead of his own professors, he has accepted.
“The professors in the Climate Control program are relatable because they are either working in their respected fields currently or have for many years,” says Szesycki. “They respected and supported me while I was working and going to school. Not having flexibility like Macomb offered would have crumbled my goals.”