Miller Electric Wires New UNO Biomechanics Building


Twenty years ago, UNO didn’t have a biomechanics program. Today it is on the cusp of opening its second dedicated building, which will double the space for the thriving program. Miller Electric was privileged to provide commercial electrical and low voltage services for both UNO’s original and new biomechanics buildings.


Last December, the Omaha World Herald reported that the UNO Biomechanics Research Building would cost $11.6 million to construct and would add 30,000 square feet of space to the existing building. The three-story addition will provide space for scientists to conduct research; for faculty and students to learn; and for biomechanics work areas.


What’s Going on in UNO’s New Biomechanics Building

Biomechanics considers the effect of external forces on organisms. Specifically, it examines how factors like age and disease affect human movement. Research projects taking place in the new building could include studies around balance in elderly populations and movement delays in babies as well as traumatic brain injuries and stroke therapies.


How Miller Electric Got Involved in the Work

Wiring the original building and maintaining a close working relationship with the original General Contractor, MCL, and the  UNO facilities maintenance staff helped Miller Electric be considered for the new addition. A competitive bid and solid plan helped Miller Electric win the work.


Speaking of that work, the project began in April of 2018 and got underway in earnest in mid-July. It is expected to wrap up by fall of 2019, just in time for students and faculty to use the space for the fall semester.


Roger Knobbe, a Senior Project Manager for Miller Electric, says work is about 70 to 80 percent complete. “It was slow at the start due to weather-related site issues that impacted other trades and had to be worked through,” Knobbe says. “Concrete and structural crews had some challenges that impacted our schedule but we all responded positively.”


Having a great relationship with MCL helped Miller Electric overcome those challenges without impacting the project’s completion date.


“We were able to optimize our manpower so it didn’t negatively impact the budget, yet remained at a pace where we could still make progress as needed,” says Knobbe. “We kept open communication between all parties and were able to base our crew structure on that open dialogue.”


Taking Challenges in Stride, Miller Electric Adjusted Manpower and Worked Ahead

When challenges occur on a project, it’s important to respond quickly and proactively. Looking for work that can be done ahead of time keeps workers busy now while ensuring the final due date is still met.


“Being proactive on an active jobsite means looking for ways to make up some of that time as we go along so the end date isn’t affected,” says Knobbe. “It’s seldom that a plan goes A to Z as first laid out. Weather, unforeseen circumstances and other factors always seem to come up. With the start and end date the same, we aim to be part of the solution in the middle. Keeping a ‘can do’ attitude is critical for success.”


When work wasn’t immediately available, Miller Electric prefabbed as much as possible to get many of the assemblies, including panel boards, light fixtures and conduit assemblies, ready ahead of time.


Tight Space Presents Unique Challenges for the UNO Biomechanics Build

The site logistics for the UNO Biomechanics building addition proved to be extremely challenging. With space being tight, it was critical to coordinate deliveries and stage material onsite as strategically as possible.


Roger Knobbe describes the work within that tight space as a continuation of the existing building with respect to lighting, power systems and low voltage systems.


“We had to reconfigure the distribution into the building to allow a new service to be installed with the existing service equipment being back fed,” says Knobbe. “We wanted to minimize the impact of ongoing work to facility and staff, so quite a bit of coordination was required to get the work done. Ultimately, the new addition is provided with a similar look and feel to the existing building while still outfitting it with cutting edge technology.”


Some of that upgraded technology included updating lights from fluorescent to LED and upgrading cable from CAT6 to CAT6A.


“We are fortunate in that we have good leadership,” says Knobbe. “Dan Wiek provided excellent leadership as the Project Manager and Jason Lang did the same in the field as the Foreman on the project. We couldn’t ask for a better crew or partner in MCL Construction to complete this important project.”


With work wrapping up, expectations are high and excitement is building for the new space to be open in the fall.