Gulf States Engineering (GSE) is a multidisciplinary engineering consulting firm offering civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, piping/plumbing and fire protection engineering services, along with surveying, construction management, code compliance and LEED consulting. The majority of its customers are in the heavy industry, commercial and government sectors. Steel mills are a key business focus. With offices in Mobile, Alabama and Gulfport, Mississippi, GSE currently has over 60 employees.
Michael Robertson, Professional Electrical Engineer, brought Design Master Electrical into GSE’s electrical department in August of 2011. “We were looking for software to help us do point-by-point lighting calculations on a large government project that we had coming up,” Mr. Robertson recalls. “Other products I was looking at were very complex and expensive, and had a lot of features that we didn’t need.”
“Design Master Electrical looked ideal because it not only does all the lighting calculations we wanted, but also it automates much of the circuiting,” continues Mr. Robertson. “Plus it keeps a database of everything we’re entering, so if we change a circuit on one drawing we don’t have to open up other drawings and try to remember what else we need to change by hand – Design Master makes all the changes automatically just by clicking ‘Update’.”
“When I found Design Master I thought, ‘Hey, this will save me some time, and it’s cheap. I might as well try it out.’ So I got a demo license for 30 days, tried it out on a smaller project and really liked it.
“In addition to that large government project, which is still underway, we’ve used Design Master Electrical on several smaller commercial projects, as well as a couple of medium-sized industrial projects. Currently we use it on almost all of the jobs we do.
“Three of the four people in our Electrical Department are using Design Master now, and it’s working out very well. As far as drafting it helps us out tremendously. Just the fact that we don’t have to open up several drawings to change one thing saves us a huge amount of time,” Mr. Robertson emphasizes.
“Design Master’s technical support was very helpful in assisting me through that first project,” remembers Mr. Robertson. “Plus they have a great tutorial that comes with the software when you download it. And the software is super-easy to use. If you can use AutoCAD it’s pretty much the same thing.”
“Since then we’ve had to call Design Master several times for tech support. Even if we don’t reach someone immediately and need to leave a message, they’re always very quick to respond. I’ve never had to wait more than an hour at the most. And they’ve been really helpful and really courteous on the phone,” Mr. Robertson relates.
“A lot of the commercial work we do is straightforward from an engineering standpoint,” Mr. Robertson explains. “But it’s important that we give the contractors a good basis of design for their work.
“For example, before we started using Design Master we typically wouldn’t show all the wires that need to accompany switches, because it’s too time-consuming and error-prone to draw all that by hand. But Design Master does all that automatically – the hot leg, the switch leg, the ground, and neutral.”
“And it’s easy to show exactly which lights you want on which switches, without the need to manually put in designations on each light. You can make the drawing very explicit, which makes things easier for contractors in the field,” adds Mr. Robertson.
“We chose Design Master because it does what we want, and because the alternatives, especially Autodesk’s Revit and BIM products, were much more expensive and require a lot of computer memory,” says Mr. Robertson. “With Design Master we save money on the product itself, and our productivity level is not brought down by the massive memory requirements of the alternative programs.”
“Revit would end up costing a ton of money to incorporate. And because of the hardware and software costs, it’s likely that not all of our engineers and designers in our department would have it – so it would be pretty much useless for us.
“Our client base typically doesn’t have a need for Revit or BIM. For us, Design Master does everything Revit can do,” Mr. Robertson concludes.