Tom Sz้kely, P.E., LEED AP

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For over 30 years, Sz้kely Engineering has produced a one-page technical/professional newsletter, Explanations and Examples , or, as a Contractor recipient has referred to it, "Engineering for Dummies," where the text to the right of each newsletter's link comprises the subject headings of the essays in that issue. Clicking the "Newsletter Sources" link in the Navigation Bar at the top of this page will take you to a similar listing describing the reference source materials linked to in each newsletter, in the event you are looking for backup or example data with regard to the points presented in a particular issue. 

Text appearing in red,(with no underline; not a link) will display an inline explanatory note or definition only, as the cursor pauses over it, but only issues linked to before Volume 9 Number 1 (April 20th 2009) are HTML versions of newsletters which were originally snail-mailed (and later e-mailed as straight .pdf's), with the hand-coded HTML links so as to allow such explanatory text and definitions. Volume 9 Number 1, however, and following issues have been written with the links inserted automatically at the time of writing, with those links passed through as is by a very basic pdf converter to the .pdf versions on this site. Thus only the link URL will appear in the popup box rather than with the explanatory text of the older newsletters with hand-coded links.


Explanations and Examples was optimistically intended to go out about once a month, but in actuality goes out only only every now and then (mostly then rather than now), as a .pdf e-mail attachment to over 800 recipients,  with a copy of each issue posted here as it's published. If you'd like to be added to the distribution list to receive the newsletter as its published, send us an e-mail via the 'Contact Us' link above.


Vol1No1      6-7-91 - Bids, Negotiated Contracts, and Winging it,
                      or, Revenge of the CSI
                    - Estimated Electrical Loads

Vol1No2     6-28-91 - Ingenuity and Risk
                    - You Can
’t Have All the Answers When You
                      Don't Know the Questions
                    - Single Phase 220 Volts and
“Single” Phase 208 Volts

Vol1No3     7-29-91 - Occam
’s Razor [Voltage Regulation for Motors]
                    - Conventional Wisdom Isn
’t [The Coming of CAD]
                    - Back Up Two Steps [Low Voltage
’s Effects on
                      Lamps and Heating Loads]
                    - Lighting and Efficiency

Vol1No4     8-27-91 - All Heat is Dry Heat
                    - Rain, Dew, and Mirrors
“Natural” Incandescent Light

Vol1No5     11-9-91 - Of Shields and Signals
                    - Of Cables and Conductivity

Vol2No1    10-19-92 - Of Bytes and Balusters
                    - Electricians and Mere Mortals

Vol3No1      5-5-93 -
‘Twas the Season [Why Steam Pipes Make Noise]

Vol3No2     9-20-93 - Isolated Grounds, Dedicated Circuits and the
                      Third Harmonic Syndrome, or, The Hysteria of the Week

Vol4No1    10-22-97 - The Great Third Harmonic Scare, or, The Birth of an

Vol5No1     1-17-05 - If All Heat is Dry Heat, What
’s the Big Deal about
                      Different Types of Heating Systems

Vol5No2     2-14-05 - OK, We Finished All the Pretty Pictures, Why is it so
                      Hard to Get the Thing Built?

Vol5No3     3-13-05 - OK We Got it Built, Now How Do We Get the Thing to
                      Work, or, Commissioning, What's Commissioning?

Vol5No4     4-11-05 -
“Value Engineering” and Other Insults
                    - Building Codes, Design Professionals, and Home

Vol5No5     5-16-05 -
“Value Engineering” Part Deux
                    - Public Safety, Building Codes, and Plans "Examination"
                    - Home Inspection for Fun and Profit

Vol5No6      7-1-05 - Professionals, Amateurs, and Design Professionals

Vol5No7     7-28-05 - Bechtel and I, or, Corporate vs. Personal Engineering

Vol5No8      9-1-05 - CAD and the Lost Art of Draughtsmanship

Vol5No9     9-27-05 - Jurassic Park and Hurricane Katrina
                    - The
“Eureka” Moment
                    - Of Diffusers and Airflow, or, What
’s With All Those
                      Dampers and Access Doors

Vol5No10    10-3-05 - Of Airflow, Balancing, and Engineering
                      Progress, or, What's Inertia Got to Do With It?

Vol5No11    11-1-05 - The Shareholder/Unit Owner Board Member Survival
                      Manual, or, Engineering for Dummies Part 1 -
                      Roof Tanks & Low Flush Toilets

Vol5No12    12-1-05 - The Shareholder/Unit Owner Board Member Survival
                      Manual, or, Engineering for Dummies Part 2 -
                      Pressure Boosters & Plastic piping

Vol6No1      1-3-06 - The Shareholder/Unit Owner Board Member Survival
                      Manual, or, Engineering for Dummies Part 3 -
                      Hot Water Temperature Maintenance
                      Old Wiring & Gas piping

Vol6No2      2-6-06 - The Shareholder/Unit Owner Board Member Survival
                      Manual, or, Engineering for Dummies Part 4 -
                      Education, Electrical Engineers, Electrocution
                      and Electrical Fires

Vol6No3     3-13-06 - The Shareholder/Unit Owner/Board Member Survival
                      Manual,or,Engineering for Dummies, Part 5 -
                      Electrical Demand Loads.

Vol6No4      4-6-06 - Licensing, Consulting, and Education

Vol6No5      5-9-06 - Digital vs. Analog Heat

Vol6No6     6-26-06 - AutoCAD, Bldg Info Management and the
                      Real World

Vol6No7     9-18-06 - The Neverending Project, or Self-Inflicted
                      Root Canal for Fun and Profit-Part 1

Vol6No8     9-18-06 - The Neverending Project, or Self-Inflicted
                      Root Canal for Fun and Profit-Part 2

Vol6No9    12-15-06 -
‘Tis the Season- Mythbusters and Christmas Tree


Vol7No1     1-29-07 - Doing the Right thing, or Kermit, What Took You so Long

                      [Introduction to the USGBC and LEED]

Vol7No2     3-12-07 - Doing the Right thing, Part Deux [LEED Point System;
                      LEED Category 1, Sustainable Sites]

Vol7No3     4-18-07 - Doing the Right thing, Part the Third [Heat Islands,
                      Water Efficiency, and Energy and Atmosphere;

                      Commissioning, Ozone Depletion, and Minimum Energy Performance]

Vol7No4     5-16-07 - Doing the Right thing, Part Four [Computer Modeling,
                      Renewable Energy, Operation and Maintenance,
                      Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental
                      Quality, and, Innovation in Design]

Vol7No5      7-5-07 - The Wackiest Ship in the Army, or,
                      Of Airplanes and Buildings

Vol7No6     7-12-07 - We the People and The Learned Professions

Vol7No7     7-31-07 - Of Fuels and Explosives, or,
                      Dynamite and the Octane Effect

Vol7No8     9-12-07 - Of Airplanes and Bricks, or,The Gimli Glider
                      vs. The Space Shuttle

Vol7No9     10-9-07 - The (Almost) New Age of Submittals, or,
                      "Lemme Fax this to you for Approval

Vol8No1      1-8-08 - A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the
                      LEED exam,or, Construction Codes and the Law
                      of Unintended Consequences; Cast Iron
                      Radiators and the Retention of Heat (Again)

Vol8No2     8-11-08 - Construction Codes and the Law of Unintended
                      Consequences, Part II; Collapsing Cranes,
                      Building Commissioners, and Inspections, or,
                      the Unqualified Tending to the Unknowing

Vol8No3    10-28-08 - Special Inspectors, Directive 14, and
                      Atlas Shrugged

Vol9No1     4-20-09 - "It Was Better When it Was Worse"
                    - Speaking of Exploding Boilers . . .
                    - And Now for Something Completely Different [The
                      Gimli Glider and U.S Airways Flight 1549]

Vol9No2     8-28-09 - Of Heat Pumps, Air Conditioners,
                      and Geothermal Energy

Vol9No3     9-25-09 - Of Geothermal Energy - Part II; Life,
                      Energy, and Civilization.

Vol9No4    12-30-09 - Permits, Plans, and As-Builts, or,to
                      Fix the City, First Fix the Agencies

Vol10No1    5-28-10 - Designers and Builders and Design-Build
                    - Airplanes, Dynamic Stability, Stalls, Spins,
                      Landings, and Crashes

Vol10No2   12-10-10 - The Last Revision, or, Victor Borge Engineering?
                    - Efficiency in Energy Conversion, or, Ya Gotta
                      Think a Bit Once in a While

Vol11No1    1-28-11 - Hydraulic Calculations and Mechanical Engineering,
                      or, Einstein and Electric Heat
                    - Hybrid Vehicles and Electric Cars

Vol11No2    4-1-11  - Temperature, Ovens, and Radiation, or,
                      The Chicken Little Method of Decision Making

Vol11No3    8-29-11 - Of Connections and Cantilevering, or,
                      Sometimes Words Just Aren't Enough
                    - Ductless-Split Air Conditioning Systems
                      and Why Specifiers, Installers, and Manufacturers
                      Don't Always See Eye-to-Eye
                    - But We've Always Done it This Way

Vol12No1    8-15-12 - What the Frack? or, Reports on the Demise
                      of the Followers of Ned Ludd and Reverend Malthus
                      Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
                    - Exhaust Systems or, Ventilation for Fun and Profit.

Vol13No1    12-1-14 - The "S" in STEM or, Aristotle's Science was Setlled too
                      but it was wrong or, the Emperor has no Clothes

Vol14No1     8-4-16 - Air Conditioning (and Heating) in Rooms with High Ceilings
                    - Airflow Throw, Noise, and Drafts
                    - Plans, Permits, and Repairs, or "Whaddaya mean this work has to be
                      [engineered and] filed!??"

Vol14No2    8-15-16 - Internet Service, Grounded Outlets, Corporate Specifications, and
                    - Lost Customers
                    - Do You Really Need In-Home Fiber Optic Network Connections for
                      HD or Even UHD Streaming Video?
                    - Bless the Clerks for They Shall Keep us Humble

Vol15No1    6-11-17 - Permits, As-Builts, Drawing Numbering and Delusions of Grandeur, or

                      Even a NYC Skyscraper does Not Exceed a Process Plant in Complexity

Vol15No2    9-21-17 - Of Websites and Browsers
                    - Engineering for Dummies Redux - Part 1 - Hot Air vs. Radiant Heat

Vol15No3   10-11-17 - Engineering for Dummies Redux - Part 2 - Radiant and Convection,
                      or, Where to Put the Heat?

Vol16No1    5-28-18 - Engineering for Dummies Redux - Part 3 - In Cooling High-Ceilinged Spaces,
                    - And Now For Something Completely Different (Again With the Airplanes?)

Vol16No2    6-11-18 - Big Red and Lamentations Over the Image of Engineering, or, The Rodney

                      Dangerfield Profession - Really?

                                 - Engineering for Dummies Redux - Part 4 - High Voltage, or, Electricity

                      Acts Funny on the Way to Your House


Vol17No1  10-25-21  - A Tale of Three Projects, as Introduced by a Disaster, or, the

                      Government Definition of an Elephant, and Why I Pro-Cert When Possible –

                              Part I


Vol17No2   11-5-21  - A Tale of Three Projects and two Agencies, as Introduced by a Disaster, or,

                      the Government Definition of an Elephant, and Why I Pro-Cert When Possible –

                      Part II


Vol17No3  11-12-21  - A Tale of Three Projects, as Introduced by a Disaster, or, the

                      Government Definition of an Elephant, and Why I Pro-Cert When Possible –

                      Part III


Vol18No1  3-20-23  - Thermodynamics and Knowing Where to Start, or, Why You Must Know

                      What you Know - Cold

Vol18No2  4-18-23   - From the Pyramids to ChatGPT, or From Roman Numbers (With a Stop Along,
                      the Way to Napier's Bones) to Computers and Artificial Intelligence.
                    - NYC Local Law 97 and CO2, or Are You For Real or is it Just Hubris?

Vol19No1  1-15-24   - The 60-Second Shower, or Anyone Who Owns His Own Home Deserves It.
                    - What is Pressure Anayway and Did I Really Understand What Was Going on
                      When my Elementary School Teacher Overturned a Drinking Glass Full of
                      With a Card on Top and it Didn't Spill?
                    - Hydronic Radiant Floor Engineering Data