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Robert Jutras, principal engineer at UL, is responsible for participating in different organizations for the development of standards and codes, performing trade association-related tasks including technical and Board functions, attending webinars and conference calls mostly related to standards and codes development as well as the development and maintenance of test data sheets. He also provides technical support to the building science team at UL, preparing and dispensing webinars, presentations, day seminars and training sessions related to his field of expertise from fenestration to building science at large. We spoke with him about his career so far and the best advice he’s gotten about work life.

What is a typical day like for you?

Answering email, participating in web calls and task group web meetings, reviewing standards and code changes and answering questions from our technical team. At least typically between three to five hours a day is spent on a call.

What is your professional background and how did you become involved in the industry?

I am a mechanical engineer with a bachelor’s degree. I got involved with the lab I am still working for 34 years ago. At the time, one of my university professors was starting a test laboratory for windows in Montreal, Canada and he asked me if I would be interested in joining him in his project. Long story short, I accepted and here I am today.

How long have you been involved with AAMA?

My company has been involved for close to 15 years. Personally, I have been active for 10.

What accomplishment are you most proud of, regarding your work as an AAMA member?

I am proud of participating with all my peers at AAMA in several groups. It is always rewarding to learn from AAMA colleagues and share my knowledge with them. I guess that this collaboration approach, which I have always preferred, is part of this huge recognition I got from my peers at AAMA last February. It is hard to explain how much of a reward it was to receive the Architectural Products Group (APG) Distinguished Service Award.

Where do you see the fenestration industry in the next 10 years?

The industry will be challenged with a lot of changes related to the ever-growing demands from the users of products it is supplying. We will have to face climate changes, like increasing wind loads from storm events and challenging water penetration requirements which have already started. Products will have to improve those characteristics, not to mention the growing demand for better energy performing products. Things like intelligent fenestration products, to adapt to the selected performance requirements, will be common and will exceed what we can envision today. New technologies, especially in the glazing industry, will emerge and help the fenestration industry meet the future goals. In that respect, the future of this organization joining with IGMA to form FGIA is even more prosperous in my view. I have confidence in the potential of our industry to surpass itself and be recognized as one of the North American industries that really understood what changes and adaptation meant.

How can the industry work together to be more successful?

The most important thing for this industry is to understand that collaboration between different stakeholders is primordial. Individuals will have to put aside vested interests that might be important when you are looking at your own backyard but are a drag to the overall industry sustainable growth.
Like an African proverb says: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

What advice do you wish someone would have given you as you began your career?

Actually, the one that I have received was not bad at all: “Never think you have the final answer, because you never know what the next question is, remember one thing Robert, so far you only have learned how to learn!” That was from the professor who hired me when I was so green!

What is the best advice you’ve received in your career so far?

Listen first, think afterward and then never hesitate to say what you feel is needed to be said.

Who has been most influential for you in your professional life?

Professor Armand Patenaude, P. Eng. Founder of Air-Ins.

Anything else you’d like to share (i.e., what you like to do outside of work, something people wouldn’t know about you or what you see for the industry in the future)?

Those who know me won’t be surprised to learn that my passion is to ride my motorcycle everywhere I can, with my sweetheart, Paule! Also, spending time with my daughter Audrey, son-in-law Philippe and my adorable grandson Raphael is a gift of life.

One thing that people probably don’t know about me: in one of my first jobs, before getting involved with windows, I was a quality control engineer in a diesel engine rebuilding factory. It may look interesting for a mechanical engineer, with things like, crankshafts, valve guides, pistons and injection pumps, but thank god, I was saved from that abyss and was allowed to trade the diesel fuel smells for the uncured acetic silicone one! It was way better for someone who likes salt and vinegar chips!