Construction News – Spotlight
Being an entrepreneur in the U.S. is no easy task. Now try doing it just a few years removed from your home country and start a successful business. This is exactly what Jasmine Azima, founder of Jasmine Engineering, set out to accomplish. After coming to the United States, she attended school at the University of Texas and completed her education with a degree in mechanical engineering. By the time she was 26, she had started her own engineering firm, Jasmine Engineering.
Today, her company has transitioned past engineering design into “total” building commissioning, offering owner’s representative services complemented by:
- Project Management
- Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) Commissioning
- LEED Commissioning
- Cost Estimating
- Design and Constructability Review
- Value Engineering
While the road has been a tough one, she still finds joy in engineering. “I always had very strong interest and abilities in science, physics, and math while I was growing up. I loved cars and anything mechanical … It was almost second nature for me to transfer those skills into pursuing engineering as a career. At the University of Texas, I decided to go into mechanical engineering because it was dynamic and the most challenging to me,” said Azima.
Azima explains her approach, “As an entrepreneur I wanted to create something new and different. That’s how Jasmine Engineering came to focus on owner’s representative services. We got involved in the Alamodome project as part of a multidisciplinary team for the project management of the project… Jasmine Engineering’s involvement in the Alamodome project redirected the vision of the company resulting in a shift to focusing exclusively on owner representative services…”
After Jasmine Engineering found its calling in Owner’s Representative services, the goal was to make the firm stand out from competitors. They do this by looking for ways to save clients’ money without sacrificing quality. In most cases Jasmine Engineering can save up to 20 percent of industry costs and three to four times the fee the firm charges, explained Azima.
The firm accomplishes this thru a tailored service called Total Building Commissioning Authority. The service is a unique process that combines the most valuable project development techniques from the disciplines of program management, project management, construction management, facility assessment, facility programming, value engineering and commissioning. This approach to this service is different from any other firm. Azima believes this is the best way to approach a project and bring value to the client.
The end result to this methodology is a collaborative effort that involves the owner, design engineers, architects and contractors. This communication and collegial approach ensures that all parties are in the discussions that results in systems operating as intended, built in a timely manner and operated in a cost effective way. When the firm is brought into the fold during the earlier phases of a project, the result is fewer problems with change orders, lower costs and fewer schedule delays – all money savers for the owner, says Azima.
Examples of Jasmine Engineering’s Commissioning projects include:
- Southwest Key Programs Social Enterprise Complex
- New Student Center at Texas A&M University in Commerce
- UTSA Combined Science Building
- BRAC Admin Building at Randolph AFB
- KCI Headquarters
- Paul Elizondo Tower at the Bexar County Justice Center
The firm has also been involved in multiple bond projects for Harlandale ISD totaling approximately $66.4 million, with a combined savings and added value features of more than $8 million. Jasmine
Engineering was also the first commissioning agent hired by the Texas A&M University system. The firm has two Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contracts with the University of Texas system: one for commissioning and one for construction inspection services. Jasmine Engineering also holds a contract with the City of San Antonio for on-call construction inspection services, and was recently selected by the University of Texas at Austin campus for an ID/IQ contract for commissioning services.
Through it all Azima credits her math abilities as a key to her success, “I was lucky that math ability was a part of my genetics … That made the academics much easier. My dad wanted me to be a doctor, but intuitively I just knew I would be better going into engineering. Engineering is my passion and that’s basically a gift that God has given me.”
When asked what it’s like being a woman in a male-dominated industry Azima says “A woman engineer was so unusual 30 years ago. My experience was that being a woman is not so much the problem. It was more a problem of convincing the powers that be that I had the physical stamina and necessary mental capacity to do the job. My profession still is perceived to be a “man’s field” in many ways – it’s just not traditional for a woman, even in 2012. So, even after being in this field for more than 30 years, I still have the challenges of being a woman competing in what far too many believe should be an exclusively male arena. However, I have found after we perform well, Jasmine Engineering’s existing clients quickly come to understand the value of what we can do for them. They respect us.”
“Unfortunately, today, successful women still are under a lot of pressure to be counted as equals. Successful women and their companies so often are judged by a higher standard. They still often get targeted for no good reason, because of not being “one of the boys.” But in the long run, that just makes women in this business stronger because women always have to work harder, better and more efficiently – we have to set the standard,” said Azima.
Azima continues to encourage women to join the engineering field by mentoring students. Mentoring brings her joy, to see those she’s mentored go to engineering school. “I think every university should have a mentor program with businesses so they can keep these young people engaged in the engineering profession.”
The bottom line is that Jasmine Engineering is all about providing quality services on projects and giving back to the community. “I enjoy giving back through mentoring and civic activities as much as I possibly can,” said Azima.
A version of this article was originally published in Construction News San Antonio’s December 2012 issue, Vol. 15, No. 12