Blogs

September 25, 2014 - 10:45
The steel vessel behind us was the size of a FedEx truck. But instead of books and online-purchased appliances, it was full of beer. The wall of fermentation tanks at the Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown Minneapolis was an appropriate backdrop for me and the group of Young Engineers (YE) who were gathered in the glow of its shimmering metallic foreground. Even if you don't prefer adult beverages as your libation of choice, the science and engineering involved in the fermentation and production of beer is a technology that is simultaneously old (there is evidence of beer brewed...
September 16, 2014 - 16:26
By Craig Musselman, P.E., F.NSPE At the 2014 Annual Conference of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), there was an outstanding presentation by Arthur Schwartz, Esq., the general counsel of NSPE, and Thomas Smith, P.E., Esq., the general counsel of ASCE (and ASCE’s next executive director effective January 1, 2015) regarding the codes of ethics adopted by 16 different engineering societies that are members of the American Association of Engineering Societies. Perhaps for the first time in the engineering profession, Schwartz and Smith presented a summary...
September 10, 2014 - 10:44
The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying recently filed a “friend of the court” brief with the Supreme Court in a case that could have significant implications for state licensing boards. The case began with a complaint filed against the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners by the Federal Trade Commission for sending cease-and-desist letters to nonlicensed teeth whitening providers. The board claims to be acting as a state regulatory body, ensuring patient safety; the FTC claims the board, comprised mostly of dental professionals competing against nonlicensed teeth...
August 4, 2014 - 13:54
Early Saturday, August 2, city officials in Toledo, Ohio, told about 400,000 residents to stop using their tap water because toxins created by algae in Lake Erie were found at a water treatment plant. This latest water emergency comes just seven months after drinking water contaminated by a chemical used to clean coal forced 300,000 residents of Charleston, West Virginia, to stop using their water. In the upcoming August/September issue of PE magazine, two people who are intimately familiar with the West Virginia case provide some engineering lessons learned. Here is the complete article...
May 19, 2014 - 10:16
Max Fischer was on 18 extracurricular teams, ranging from fencing and debate to the skeet shooting team and beekeepers club. As the high-schooler in the Wes Anderson film, Rushmore, the contradictory Max (played by Jason Schwartzman) was an overachieving go-getter and, at the same time, the least motivated, lowest performing scholar at Rushmore Academy. Work can sometimes feel like a life of Max: We serve multiple clients at a time; we’re heavily involved in a variety of projects; we’re held accountable for timelines and results while leading a multitude of interdisciplinary teams. Yet even...
May 19, 2014 - 09:20
The National Society of Professional Engineers recently published the first edition of the Engineering Body of Knowledge (EBOK), which describes the capabilities and abilities deemed necessary to practice engineering in responsible charge at an early point in an engineer’s career. When this first edition was completed and summarized, I was struck by its implications for lifelong learning in the practice of engineering. The need for lifelong learning in one’s engineering career is accelerating, for a number of reasons. Change is one of the certainties in life and in practice, and the pace...
March 20, 2014 - 08:50
A year after he left presidential office, Teddy Roosevelt arrived in Paris in 1910 and gave his now famous “Man in the Arena” speech as part of a larger address to the crowds at the prestigious Sorbonne, the precursor to the modern University of Paris: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no...
February 10, 2014 - 11:21
The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Examinations have historically been used as a means to confirm an applicant’s engineering capability at the level of minimum competence required to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Coupled with the education and experience requirements, these examinations play a significant role in the licensure process in the US, as many applicants are not able to pass one or the other. The current exams contain almost exclusively technical content, and do not address the full breadth of the...
February 3, 2014 - 09:57
For the past five years, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) has been considering how to structure an alternate pathway to licensure after 2020, based on input received largely from mechanical and chemical engineers who contend that post-graduate advanced learning in their areas of practice is predominantly industry- and practice-based, and not academic in nature. This article presents an idea that might help all parties move forward. Background In 2006, NCEES adopted modifications to its Model Law encouraging jurisdictions to consider revisions after...
December 11, 2013 - 16:25
It’s a professional reality that all bosses are not great bosses. Anyone can become a manager, but to become a leader, other behaviors become distinguishing factors. Anyone can report to a manager, but only a leader will have followers. One such distinction is the role that leaders play in individual career development, something that some managers don’t prioritize or ignore altogether. When it comes to career development, here are five distinguishing factors in separating leaders from managers. If indicators below were on a sliding scale with leader on one end and manager on the polar...

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