From The Top: Jeff Oke, KJWW Engineering Consultants

Batavia resident Jeff Oke, 37, is the project executive and operations manager at KJWW.  |  Submitted
Batavia resident Jeff Oke, 37, is the project executive and operations manager at KJWW. | Submitted

Kids attending schools throughout Naperville and Aurora are keeping warm during cold days and cool when classes resume in late summer, thanks to the efforts of a local mechanical engineer and his Naperville firm KJWW Engineering Consultants.

“Metea Valley is probably the biggest project we’ve done that I’ve been involved with here locally, but there are a lot of other schools in Naperville where we have designed their systems,” said Jeff Oke, 37, who is the project executive and operations manager at KJWW.

The Batavia resident also has been recognized by an industry publication for being one of the best and most innovative in the business under the age of 40.

The 40 Under 40 program is sponsored by Viega, a manufacturer of plumbing and HVAC solutions company. All 40 Under 40 candidates were nominated by a professional colleague or mentor and judged based on nine areas, including commitment to excellence in their academic, professional, personal and community lives. Results are published in the trade publication “Consulting-Specifying Engineer.”

“These young professionals are the future of the industry,” said Amara Rozgus, editor-in-chief of the magazine. “Now in its seventh year, the competition has increased in exposure, and the caliber of nominees has risen to an even higher level. Each winner truly deserves this recognition.”

Oke said he was honored to be recognized by the publication. He said he has been involved in the plumbing and HVAC design “of more than 20 buildings here in Naperville and a few located in Aurora.”

Oke’s projects also have included libraries and churches, universities, laboratories and office buildings. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Perdue and has worked for the KJWW Engineering Consultants firm for 14 years. It’s the only job he’s known since college.

“This is a really good company that is well run,” Oke said as a way of explaining the reason for his exclusive work resume. “It’s run very ethically, and we they try to hire people right out of college, train them well, and hopefully make this their lifelong career.”

Todd DePaul, director of facilities for Indian Prairie School District 204, said he worked closely with Oke on the Metea project, which opened its first phase in August 2009. Oke, DePaul said, “brings state-of-the-art knowledge and is a cutting-edge engineer.”

“Jeff was quickly able to grasp the issues we had here with this building, and if he didn’t know the answer to something, he knew the people who did,” DePaul recalled. “We have a much more energy-efficient system than those found in buildings built 10 to 15 years ago.”

DePaul also described Oke as “client oriented” and said that he and his firm were very thorough when it came to the Metea project.

“There is the design and the engineering part but also the follow through and troubleshooting you have to have,” DePaul. “Jeff was able to design a system that worked within our budget.”

Oke said he has embraced his career, following somewhat in his father’s footsteps. He was a mechanical engineer who worked for Caterpillar in Aurora.

Oke says his industry continues to be driven by ever-increasing strict codes and that systems designed by his company continue to exceed those standards.

“There are some variances, but our buildings average about 30 percent more efficiency than the code standards call for,” he said. “We have high-efficiency ‘chiller’ systems and boilers, but the standards keep get tougher and tougher, which forces us to always be thinking of better ways to save energy. The trends from less than a decade ago aren’t applicable anymore, and we continue to work to develop more sophisticated controls and higher energy equipment.”

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