NSPE Executive Director Mark Golden, CAE, and I have taken the opportunity over the last two issues of PE magazine to discuss the Future of the Profession Task Force and the accompanying themes from the book The Future of the Professions. Additionally, the last issue of PE magazine provides a deeper dive into the concepts and the work of the task force through the cover story “End of an Era?” by Danielle Boykin. The article included interviews with Adam Stodola, P.E., the chair of the task force, and me. You will even find information related to this work on Mark Golden’s blog on the NSPE website and in our members-only forum, NSPE Communities. There is, however, a key concept that we have not yet addressed in any of these discussions: Who is our future?
Much like civilization generally, a profession (or a society) cannot continue without ensuring that there will be those who will come after us to fulfill our roles. But there is the question of whose responsibility it is to find and recruit the next generation of professional engineers and the next generation of NSPE members. I believe the answer is quite simple: It is the responsibility of all of us to recruit both new professional engineers and new NSPE members.
To the task of recruiting new professional engineers, a profession will not survive without champions—those who will monitor it and continue to promote its importance.
Rather than relying solely on engineering educators, it is vital for professional engineers to maintain relationships with their alma maters and take it upon themselves to engage junior- and senior-level design classes or even introductory engineering classes about the importance of licensure and professional engineers’ foremost responsibility to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. When encountering nonlicensed engineering graduates at work or in the community, initiate the discussion about the foremost responsibility of a professional engineer.
To the task of membership, we must speak openly and candidly to nonmembers, including friends and colleagues, about NSPE’s work to promote and protect the professional engineer’s license and the value of NSPE. Whether or not a professional engineer is a member of NSPE, we are advocating on behalf of the professional engineer’s license. NSPE is the only organization that is the voice of professional engineers across disciplines. I encourage you to check out all the valuable things NSPE is doing on behalf of an individual’s license:
- Read the “NSPE Year in Review: 2015–16” under “Who We Are & What We Do” on the NSPE website;
- Read Executive Director Mark Golden’s monthly updates to the board of directors on the website, under Leadership Toolbox;
- Read our newsletters NSPE Update and PE Scope;
- Listen to the NSPE Speaks podcast;
- Follow NSPE on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn; and
- Read PE magazine (if you are reading this, you’ve got this one down!).
Whatever way you like to receive news, NSPE has an option for you.
Over the years there have been many discussions about increasing NSPE’s membership back to the levels seen in recent decades. NSPE is currently an organization of 31,000 members. If each member gets a new NSPE member to join or rejoin the organization, we will be well on our way to those previously seen membership numbers. In talking with former members about renewing, explore why they did not renew their membership. This is a perfect opportunity to start a dialogue and work toward defining the value that members require from NSPE. Perhaps their membership lapsed because they forgot to renew or even changed employers and never saw a renewal notice. Maybe they left because NSPE was not doing or offering something we now provide members. By engaging in this conversation, you will discover what is important to them and how you can bring them back into the NSPE conversation.
With your help, we will be a stronger and more vibrant organization. NSPE will have resources to provide additional services to our state societies and additional resources to expand government relations and advocacy activities.
As such, I open a challenge to each NSPE member to try over the next year to recruit a new member or get a prior member to rejoin the organization. One-on-one communication is the most successful membership retention and recruitment strategy. Please accept this challenge to grow NSPE and prepare the future of our profession!
Published October 24, 2016 by Kodi Verhalen, P.E., ESQ., F.NSPE, President 2016–17