The LiRo Group announced the acquisition of James, LaSala & Associates, LLP (JLA), a multi-discipline engineering firm located in Holbrook, New York in August 2016. JLA is a leader in the telecommunications industry and holds major contracts with AT&T, Lightower Fiber Networks, Port Authority of NY & NJ (PANYNJ), and other communications clients. Their expertise includes the design, inspection, and project management of optical network installations from point of transmission to clients' premises, creating secure, redundant communication systems. A long history of collaboration with voice/ data carriers in the New York metropolitan area gives them the ability to provide quick and accurate design solutions.
What made you interested in becoming an engineer?
FT: At an early age, I had a fascination with the space program and an aptitude for math and science so it seemed only natural to pursue a career in engineering. After graduating college my first job was designing missile launcher components. That may seem like a long way from telecommunications but sometimes life works in strange ways and I found myself working at New York Telephone Company in my next job.
SB: I was always interested in learning the procedures that preceded the development of the plans and drawings sent out to the field. After several years of supervising Contractors installing conduit, manholes and related infrastructure, opportunities opened at JLA in the engineering and design area of the industry. I took the opportunity and it allowed me to see a project through from inception to completion.
MS: As a child I loved to take things apart (toys, clocks, motors) and reassemble them. Sometimes they would still work and sometimes I actually fixed something! Never losing my love for building or fixing things, I started my career with New York Telephone as an Outside Plant Cable Technician and was soon offered a position as an Outside Plant Engineer.
AR: Lafayette College's unique Engineering Studies Program provided an education in engineering disciplines combined with a broad knowledge base structure intended to keep up with our technologically driven world. This degree allowed me to deepen my love for math and science while developing an understanding of engineering and design processes without a specific focus.
For people unfamiliar with this market can you give a general description of the types of work that are performed by a telecommunication engineer?
FT: We assist our clients in planning their networks by determining the routing from their existing network to new locations or to provide diversity from their existing routes. We perform field surveys to determine how to provide service within buildings, how to attach cables to Verizon or Electric Company pole lines or how to construct conduit in the street. We then design construction drawings that allow permits to be secured and cable and conduit to be installed. We apply for required licenses to occupy Verizon conduit or to attach to Verizon or Electric Company poles.
SB: Telecom engineering fundamentally involves getting data from 'Point A' to 'Point B'. It is the points in-between that comprise the core of the work we do.
AR: An OSP Engineer is responsible for designing and overseeing the installation of telecommunications equipment and facilities, including fiber optic cable in both aerial and underground applications. This includes inspecting and coordinating all phases of site development such as new site builds, site layouts, site modifications and upgrades on telecommunication projects.
Telecommunication engineering work ranges from basic circuit design to strategic mass developments. Tell me about the most challenging project that you have been involved with.
FT: Providing service to the new New York Yankee Stadium. Our company was commissioned to design conduit and cable into the new stadium by one of our clients, which is not an unusual request. The challenge arose when Yankee personnel managing the stadium construction asked us to coordinate all telecommunications conduit installations to the site. We were required to work with each carrier entering the site to determine their specific conduit requirements and then coordinate all construction.
MS: In 2008 a portion of UN Secretariat Building was scheduled to be renovated. Hundreds of employees had to be relocated to 14 different office spaces throughout Manhattan and Queens. Our task was to design a diverse network to connect all of the buildings with the UN's node as well as the cable design within the buildings. Every building had to have two separate cable entrances and two diverse risers to their data room. Some of the buildings were quite old and needed a lot of creative engineering to accomplish this. Most of the buildings required subsidiary conduit to be designed and built to the existing ECS conduit system. We were also tasked with the project management of the cable and conduit construction. This involved preparing cable and conduit bids for all of the buildings as well as Contractor walkthroughs and inspection services.
SB: In 2007 a major cable failure occurred at LAX affecting the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) computer network and caused major travel delays. The CBP decided to build a redundant network at all of its domestic airport facilities to avoid this situation in the future. In 2009, CBP selected AT&T to provide the redundant fiber service to five terminals and one support building at JFK Airport. AT&T would provide this service via two diverse fiber rings and JLA would provide all survey, design, engineering and project management support. I was assigned the Project Management position at JLA and successfully delivered redundant fiber service to four of the five terminals (I advised AT&T that a diverse entrance to Terminal 3 was not prudent due to its scheduled demolition in 2012). In order to build diversity in the network to Terminals 1, 7 and 8, new communications conduit needed to be built, with minimal impact to the traffic flow at the airport. We successfully navigated both the terminals and the PANYNJ's requirements to complete the project with a minimum disruption during both conduit construction and the installation of fiber cable in the underground and through the terminals. The project was completed to the satisfaction of Dave Masterson, AT&T Associate Director, DHS ONENet Program, who expressed his gratitude in completing the build of the "Crown Jewel" of the ONENet Program.
Describe a typical day out in the field.
MS: One day you could be in a subway tunnel identifying and tagging various carriers' fiber optic cables and the next day sitting at a large job meeting designing an underground fiber optic system to serve the new the LaGuardia Airport reconstruction. It could also be walking an existing pole line with other utilities negotiating a location for a carrier to attach their fiber cable or in a school building engineering a route to place fiber cable for their data needs. Every day is different so you never know.
AR: There is no typical day in the field, every day is different and I learn something new each day.
Frank is Director of Engineering with extensive experience in all phases of facility provisioning and project management brought forth by 46 years within the industry. He is vastly knowledgeable in the design of fiber optic and loop electronics equipment installations for various telecommunications providers within the New York metropolitan area.
Arin is an OSP Engineer who provides support in the planning, design and implementation of various network systems utilizing OSP engineering, central office switching and network transmission design. She is a recent graduate from Lafayette College with an Engineering Studies degree and has close to one year experience within the industry.
Steve is a Telecommunications Project Manager with experience in outside plant engineering and construction management. His 21 years of experience and proven capability to complete the planning, design and construction oversight of fiber optic cable and conduit plant projects on time and within budget solidifies his knowledge of the industry.
Mike is an experienced Operations Manager in all aspects of outside plant engineering, construction and cable maintenance. He holds a comprehensive background in all phases of project management validated by his 45 years within the industry.