NSPE Blog

August 29, 2018 - 20:15
By Mark J. Golden, CAE, FASAE Paradigms are the frames of reference that filter our view of the world. They govern how we see things … and can blind you to realities that don’t fit your governing paradigm. Take professional licensure. It’s a no-brainer, right? Some form of professional licensure has existed in America for lawyers since 1763, for physicians and dentists since the mid-1800s, and for engineers since 1907. After all, if people are going to entrust their safety, liberty, property, health, and general welfare to you, they have a right to expect you to be competent and ethical....
May 1, 2018 - 09:14
By Mark J. Golden, CAE, FASAE NSPE was saddened to learn of the pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University on March 16, 2018, and the tragic loss of life. NSPE immediately offered its deepest condolences to the victims, their families, and Miami’s citizens. We are closely monitoring the investigation into the collapse. By determining the root cause, PEs can help prevent crises like this from occurring again. Just four days later, there was another fatality—this time, a pedestrian in Arizona was struck and killed in the first fatal crash involving a fully autonomous...
February 22, 2018 - 07:58
By Mark J. Golden, CAE, FASAE This is typically a time to take stock of the past year and make resolutions for the new year to come. But the first of January (at least in the modern calendar) also marks the birthdate of American patriot Paul Revere. Revere is best remembered for his midnight ride in April 1775 to alert the colonial militia of the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord. This singular event, immortalized in the Longfellow poem, overshadows Revere’s long and distinguished military service as a member of Massachusetts’s militia throughout the...
August 29, 2017 - 19:25
By Mark J. Golden, CAE, FASAE As NSPE ends one fiscal year and starts a new one, the typical focus for this column would be to talk about the past year’s activity. That is worth doing: We have a good story to tell, and NSPE’s 2016–17 accomplishments are something we can all take pride in. But that would be repeating a story that you have already been told, as it was happening. (See NSPE Year in Review: 2016–17.) So, for this final column of the program year, I’ll focus on a higher level, on a significant cultural change the Society is embarking upon. Culture is defined by values:...
August 7, 2017 - 16:09
By Mark J. Golden, CAE, FASAE We certainly live in turbulent times. Politically, economically, socially, culturally, every aspect of our personal and professional lives faces disruption. The potentials within those forces are grounds for a sense of optimism and opportunity; however, they also contain potential threats, sometimes leading to a feeling of loss of control over our own futures and a dismaying sense of uncertainty. Technology continues to advance at a dizzying rate of speed, and often the growth in what technology can do seems to outpace the thought given to how it ought to be...
December 22, 2016 - 13:59
By Mark J. Golden, CAE, FASAE PE licensing laws were enacted to ensure that the men and women in responsible charge of engineering projects are qualified to carry out that work in a manner that protects the public safety, health, and welfare. In some states, tragic loss of life due to engineering failures was the necessary catalyst for passing such laws. It is impossible to know how many engineering failures were avoided thanks, at least in part, to the licensing requirement that a competent and accountable individual be in charge. Unfortunately, one of the outcomes of the very effectiveness...
August 29, 2016 - 08:41
By Mark J. Golden, CAE, FASAE What does it mean to be in a profession? Even if you don’t buy their arguments about what lies ahead, Richard and Daniel Susskind’s provocative recent book The Future of the Professions does a good job of defining the basics. Whether you are talking about engineering or the law, financial services or medicine, they posit, professions share the following characteristics: Members of professions possess specialist knowledge, experience, skills, and know-how that they make available to others who don’t possess such expertise; Members’ livelihoods...
February 25, 2016 - 11:14
By Michael S. Ellegood, P.E. By now, all America is aware of the water crisis in Flint Michigan. The city, under management by a state-appointed official, changed the water supply from Detroit to the Flint River. The change in the water source caused lead and iron oxides to leach from delivery pipes and create a health hazard for thousands of Flint residents. A man-made disaster! Since Flint is largely African-American, the situation has racial overtones. Since Flint is Democratic while under the management of a Republican governor’s administration, the situation has political overtones....
December 20, 2015 - 08:02
By Mark J. Golden, CAE, FASAE The process of becoming a professional engineer requires mastery of both the technical knowledge and skills related to the discipline of practice and the so-called “soft skills” of ethics and professionalism; communications; planning and organization; problem solving and conflict resolution; decision making in an interdisciplinary team environment; risk assessment; economics; business processes; law; government processes; and others. (Although I always chafe at the characterization of these skills, which are exceptionally hard to teach and to master, as in any...
November 11, 2015 - 11:10
NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, has submitted a letter to the editor in response to an article by Ian Bogost in The Atlantic that says computer programmers who call themselves “engineers” are undermining “a long tradition of designing and building infrastructure in the public interest.” The article, “Programmers: Stop Calling Yourselves Engineers,” says, “When it comes to skyscrapers and bridges and power plants and elevators and the like, engineering has been, and will continue to be, managed partly by professional standards, and partly by regulation around the expertise and duties...

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