Skip to content

GEM’s Gems October 2013 – Blake Cannon

October 1, 2013
Blake Cannon

Blake Cannon

The Global Energy Management Program is honoring Blake Cannon as the October GEM’s Gem. Cannon is a piping designer at Samuel Engineering, Inc., a full service, multidisciplinary project development & execution company. Cannon, 30, moved to Denver from Houston about six months ago after accepting a position at Samuel Engineering.

“The GEM program gave me a better understanding of how my clients make decisions, allocate resources, develop strategies, and comprehend their business environment,” Cannon said. “By better understanding my clients, my company and I can provide superior solutions to their challenges which are creative, of high quality, cost effective, and pertinent.”

Cannon chose the GEM Program because it was populated by students and staff from the energy industry.

“The GEM program was able to deliver exactly what I was looking for as compared to a general MBA,” he said. “Companies hire specialists not generalists.”

Cannon, who was a member of Cohort VII, has many fond memories of his education. He shared with us that he once helped carry a large ice swan sculpture across Larimer Square for his graduation celebration.

“Myself and a few others carted the swan half a mile among the lights of LoDo Denver amidst the glitz and glitter of bustling young entertainment seekers at the height of a Friday night,” mused Cannon.

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

A piping designer is skilled primarily in the development of equipment arrangements and piping layouts for process industries. The position offers an opportunity to demonstrate technical ability along with creative talent and common-sense approach to problem solving. Process facilities must be designed and engineered within extremely short schedules while adhering to maintenance, safety, and quality standards. Moreover, the design must take constructability, economics, and operations into account. Although the tools to achieve these goals have changed from pencil and paper to intelligent 3D computer models, the responsibilities of the piping designer remain the same.

As a piping designer I must develop layout documents during the conceptual and study phases of a project. Needed skills include:

  • Common sense and the ability to reason
  • Knowledge of what a particular plant is designed to do
  • A general understanding of how process equipment is maintained and operated
  • The ability to generate a safe, comprehensive layout within a specified time and with consideration toward constructability and cost-effectiveness
  • Creativity
  • Sufficient experience to avoid reinventing the wheel
  • Knowledge of the principal roles of other design and engineering groups and the ability to use input from these other disciplines
  • The ability to resolve unclear or questionable data
  • Willingness to compromise in the best interest of the project
  • The ability to generate clear and concise documents
  • The ability to defend designs when challenged

How did the GEM program benefit you and your company? Were you promoted since you began the program?

My career involves engineering and designing the process facilities for oil and gas firms. The GEM program gave me a better understanding of how my clients make decisions, allocate resources, develop strategies, and comprehend their business environment. By better understanding my clients, my company and I can provide superior solutions to their challenges which are creative, of high quality, cost effective, and pertinent.

I have worked for a variety of engineering firms over the past 8 years. As a recent hire at Samuel Engineering, I credit my pursuit of the GEM degree as giving me a competitive edge during the interview and hiring process.

What were some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?

There is a Jazz Club very close to the GEM classrooms where we all spent quite a bit of time. Lunch was a welcoming break between the long classroom sessions. We did a Rockies game, bowling, Ping-Pong at Ace, and evening gatherings on the 16th Street Mall. I can’t think of any event that was not enjoyed by our Cohort. The best way to get to know those in your cohort is through these events. The more you know your classmates, the easier it will be to work with them on projects and the better your GEM experience.

What were some of the things that you never forget to bring to cohort weekends?

I was traveling from Houston to every in-classroom session except the very last. Throughout GEM, I would bring fewer and fewer things to the in-classroom sessions. Email the professors and find out if books, laptops, case studies, etc. are needed for the in classroom sessions; that way you are not lugging around extra weight. However, I never forgot a rain jacket of some sort, a thermal outer layer, chapstick, sunglasses, and boots. Colorado weather is unpredictable.

Please share a story about GEM that will entertain other students.

The evening before graduation, our cohort held a private graduation party at Rodizio Grill. The guest of honor that night was an ice sculpture shaped like a [black] swan. After the party ended, we had to get the swan to the Westin Hotel for next day’s graduation ceremony. Myself and a few others carted the swan half a mile among the lights of LoDo Denver amidst the glitz and glitter of bustling young entertainment seekers at the height of a Friday night.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?

 I had been contemplating a MBA for a few years. When I finally started to look more seriously at different graduate school options, I felt it would be best to enroll in a program that was specific to my industry. I wanted to learn more about my industry in a program that was populated by students and staff from the industry. The GEM program was able to deliver exactly what I was looking for as compared to a general MBA. Companies hire specialists not generalists.

Has GEM changed your perspective? If so, how?

I’ve been in the industry long enough to know that the energy industry is much more complex than many people are able to comprehend. My background has been mostly oil and gas with a very small amount of power generation. The GEM program had a variety of students and professors throughout the energy industry. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about parts of the industry I was unfamiliar. I believe this industry is so broad and diverse it is easy for many of us to get lost in the ‘silo effect’’ of our own job, department, organization, market segment, etc. The knowledge I gained in the GEM program has caused me to approach issues with a more encompassing point-of-view.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: