It is a bit strange writing my last column as NSPE president when there are still five months before my term and the NSPE fiscal year end. This timing, however, has provided me a wonderful opportunity to reflect on all that we have accomplished this year and to remind myself all there is yet to complete in the coming months. This year we set out to strengthen NSPE advocacy efforts, increase the number of NSPE publications, increase awareness of NSPE, provide additional value to our members, and focus on the future of the profession.
NSPE has continued to work cooperatively with state societies in advocating for licensure laws that protect the public health, safety, and welfare while avoiding regulatory or public ambiguity and confusion. This has included issuing letters in several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Minnesota, opposing either bills introduced or rules proposed related to qualifications-based selection or the practice of “structural engineering.” Through Position Statement 1737, NSPE has established its opposition to discipline-specific licensure, including licensure by professional engineering specialty. In this same vein, however, NSPE is committed to creating a stronger profession and will be hosting a meeting with several national structural engineering societies on February 16 to identify areas of agreement.
Keeping a close eye on the professional concerns of PEs, the Committee on Policy and Advocacy tackled the gargantuan task of evaluating all NSPE position statements this year to ensure they actively support the Society’s advocacy efforts. Committee members also developed communication materials that can be used to educate federal and state legislators about the value of professional engineering licensure and our core purpose of protecting the public health, safety, and welfare. Because of their expeditious work, COPA is now taking on some new charges through July 2017.
In the first half of the fiscal year, NSPE has also responded to member feedback by publishing more research on behalf of the profession. Members now have access to state-by-state summaries on the definition of the practice of engineering and licensure law exemptions. Combined, nearly 4,000 visitors have viewed the two summaries. More are forthcoming later this year!
I am also very excited by the launch of NSPE’s online networking site for members. Known as Communities, the site is for members only and is like a 24-7 town hall, where member can ask questions, share comments, and connect with their fellow professionals. To date, 3,500 members have registered. Communities is an outstanding example of how technology can bring together members from across the country and create connections.
All of these activities are central to the Society’s mission, but to create a stronger NSPE, we are continuing work on a unified membership model that will provide consistency for members in all aspects related to the expectation for services, value proposition, membership renewal, and cost. This membership model will be fleshed out in the coming months and will be presented to the NSPE House of Delegates for vote in July 2017.
As a profession, we also need to look at the long term as well as the short term. The Future of the Profession Task Force is well on its way to completing a report that will examine several issues that will fundamentally shape our profession and our work. The committee’s initial work has been shared with groups such as the National Academy of Engineering and the Design-Build Institute of America. Final work will be shared broadly with the professional engineering community.
NSPE has many great stories to tell, as you probably realize. In my first remarks as NSPE president at the 2016 Professional Engineers Conference in Dallas, I focused on the importance of self-marketing. Now and in coming years, it is imperative that each and every member discuss the importance and value of NSPE membership with colleagues who are professional engineers or on the licensure track. No one can tell our story better than each of us. Please continue this work, both for the profession and for NSPE.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the NSPE Board of Directors; committee, interest group, and task force chairs; and staff for all they have completed this year and all they have yet to take on before year end. There is no challenge I have presented that they have not willingly tackled or at least attempted to tackle.
I also want to thank every NSPE president who preceded me: Each of you set out on a path unique to you, leaving room for those of us who have followed to make sure our footprints are also left behind.
Gayle Roberts, CEO of Stanley Consultants Inc., is quoted as saying, “You have to raise your hand.” Thank you members for allowing me the opportunity to raise my hand and serve you, the members of NSPE, and the professional engineering profession for this year. I am happy with what has been accomplished, excited for what will be accomplished, and thrilled to see what the future of the profession holds for all of us.
Published February 22, 2017 by Kodi Verhalen, P.E., ESQ., F.NSPE, President 2016–17