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Posted by Mark Felgate

Wisest Investments for the Future are Not Monetary

August 17, 2023

What is the best investment one can make for the future of individuals, communities, and society?  It takes money but more importantly time. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work for such a great company that embraces that investment strategy.You may be asking yourself “Isn’t Hallam-ICS an engineering firm?” Absolutely.  But Hallam-ICS is also an investment company. You may be asking yourself “What do you mean an investment company?”, let me explain. Hallam-ICS invests in people and communities.  And, what better investment can we make for the future than to inspire, encourage and motivate our youth regarding their future potential. To give confidence and light a fire is invaluable. 

Each year, Hallam-ICS recognizes the mission and accomplishments of non-profit organizations that serve their community near each of the seven Hallam-ICS office locations (Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Florida). Each non-profit organization recognized receives the Hallam-ICS Award for Community Service and a monetary gift of $5,000. The award was established when company founder David Hallam retired; to honor David’s heart for social responsibility which is the cornerstone of our company mission, understanding the value of giving back to the communities in which we work and live.

Hallam-ICS has another social mission of giving, in the form of the Hallam-ICS Giving Tree, that primarily supports efforts undertaken on behalf of children age birth to eighteen years. Through the giving tree, the company gives time, money and materials. Feel free to check out our blog post, At Hallam-ICS, Our Teams Love Engineering & People and...Beer! and  read our Social Mission to learn more.   

This past year, the recipient of the Hallam-ICS Award for Community Service for the Middletown, Connecticut area was STEAM Train

STEAM Train is a non-profit organization that is committed to moving generations, especially underserved, under resourced, and underrepresented populations, to careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and beyond.  To quote part of their website:

“The future will be brighter as we illuminate their path, increase their awareness of related careers, and develop the skills needed to increase their earning potential.” 

Not only has Hallam-ICS recognized their mission and work with the award but has also become a partner in their mission. To learn more about STEAM Train’s programs and partners, visit to following links:

For Hallam-ICS, it is not just a matter of giving a monetary award and then saying, “done”. It is more of recognizing the tremendous work they are doing and then saying, “How else can we support what you are doing?”

Soon after receiving the award, the President of STEAM Train, Donna Hylton, met with Hallam-ICS to talk about their collaboration with Wesleyan University called STEAM Bound.  STEAM Bound is a collaboration between STEAM Train and UPWARD BOUND MATH SCIENCE (UBMS) of  Wesleyan University to enrich the existing offering of UBMS participants by providing specific exposure to the disciplines of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, digital Arts, and Math). The program is specifically designed to reach first generation students and to help prepare them for entry into college. The STEAM Bound program involves 5 weeks of introducing students to the STEAM discipline.  Three hours each week, the students are exposed to one of the five STEAM disciplines. We were asked if we would present the material for the Engineering discipline; which we were glad to do.

Besides myself, four other Hallam employees (Jamie Spalding, Robb Chase, Shawn Costa and Daniela Nicola along with her husband Dumitru), volunteered to spend those three hours on a Saturday morning to invest into the lives of twenty high school students.  During the first hour, we spent the time discussing what engineering is and the different disciplines of engineering. Being an electrical engineer, I narrowed the presentation to the field of electrical engineering. Electrical presentationThe presentation concluded with the basics of electrical theory including Ohm’s Law and circuit basics including series and parallel resistances to prepare the students for the next two hours of team competitions. The second hour gave the students time to design the circuits necessary to meet the challenge of the competition. The third hour involved building and testing the circuits.

Circuit boardThe team competition divided the students into five teams of four. Each team was given a circuit bread board, and an assortment of loads comprised of various sized resistors and two LEDs. The challenge was to add sufficient resistance to obtain a current flow as close to 250 mA as possible without exceeding that current flow using a 9-volt battery source. The team that achieved as close to 250 mA without exceeding that limit won the competition. The competition allowed a team to see their results after a first round of tests and then modify their circuits to improve their results for a second round of testing.

One student commented at the beginning of the design hour that she was not that good in math.  During the design, she did most of the mathematical calculations. When testing the results, her team achieved 249.4 mA; just 0.6 mA shy of the maximum limit. That was the winning team. What I took to heart about that observation and what we were able to show that student who said she was not that good in math, is that, although it is easy to undervalue your importance, you can be a significant contributor to a team.  I can only imagine the amount of confidence that we were able to build into that student alone.

When the three-hour session was over, I had asked if there were any students that were inspired by what they learned and accomplished.  One student spoke up and said that she was inspired.  Knowing that we were able to inspire even one student meant our time was well invested.

Who knows what sparks may have become ignited that will eventual flame into a passion and career.  We may never know what impacts we may have made.  But I know that if we did not invest that time, there would be no sparks igniting. Many students do not know what they want to do in terms of careers or what opportunities can excite them. Some among them may feel that certain careers are just out of their reach because no one showed them what they can accomplish. They only need an opportunity to see their potential. Thus, what better investment can we make for the future than to inspire, encourage and motivate our youth regarding their future potential. To inspire confidence and ignite a fire within an individual is invaluable. The best part of this type of investment is that, when you give of your time, the investment will not return with a loss.  

About the author

Mark Felgate is the Lead Electrical Engineer for the Massachusetts and Connecticut Offices for Hallam-ICS.  Mark has been in the construction industry for over 30 Years, has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Connecticut, and is a LEED Accredited Professional.  Mark is a Member of NFPA and is currently serving as Past President of the Hartford Section of IES.  Mark also continues to volunteer as a mentor through ACE Mentor since 2001.

Read   My Hallam Story 

About Hallam-ICS

Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont,  North Carolina, Texas and Florida and our projects take us world-wide. 

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Topics: Culturally Different, Social Mission, Inspired Engineering

Mark Felgate

By Mark Felgate

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August 17, 2023

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