NSPE Today: Outlook
Four Steps for Making a Difference
BY TRICIA HATLEY, P.E., F.NSPE, PRESIDENT 2020–21
Most professional engineers I know are problem solvers who understand the value of good planning. Which is probably why the pandemic and the current climate of unrest in our country is driving us crazy! We are critical thinkers, and we love orderly processes. Ethics and accountability are very important in our lives. So, as we join together as members of NSPE, and other engineering societies, to improve the world around us, we acknowledge that uncertainties abound.
Even with the uncertainties facing our profession and our country, we know that planning and process execution are essential in meeting the goals we outlined in our strategic plan. NSPE members are working hard to fulfill our vision in spite of all of the challenges: A world where the public can be confident that engineering decisions affecting their lives are made by qualified and ethically accountable professionals.
The NSPE Strategic Plan guides us in doing so and sets up four key focus areas that we are working on across the organization to make a difference.
Organizational growth is essential for any entity. As I mentioned in July, we need to continue attracting qualified people of all backgrounds to our profession and attracting them to our Society to engage in the work necessary to fulfill our vision.
- Currently, NSPE state societies and national are working hand in hand on recruitment campaigns. First up is one with a focus on midcareer engineers highlighting how NSPE protects the license, provides access to peer advice, and has all the continuing education they need. We are reaching out to potential members via mail, email, and social media with lists from state licensing boards.
- In September, NSPE launched a Volunteer Leader Development program, titled “Road to the Summit,” designed to help NSPE national, state, and chapter leaders grow in their confidence as leaders and be more effective. This program is open to all members, so if you are interested check out the sessions found in the Leadership Toolbox.
Shaping Public Policy
NSPE continues to monitor how anti-licensure groups might take advantage of reasonable COVID-19 limited licensure regulation changes (like extended license dates, relaxing of continuing education requirements, and allowing greater ease of nonresident licensed engineers to practice in particular states), in order to permanently weaken license in the future and compromise the public.
We continue to focus on:
- Reducing the scope and number of PE license exemptions;
- Addressing the role of professional licensure in nontraditional fields such as emerging technologies;
- Increasing the number of legislative or executive rules requiring that job specifications and requests for proposal include NICET certification mandates; and
- Streamlining, simplifying, and making licensure rules more consistent across jurisdictions in an effort to increase license mobility between states.
Successfully shaping public policy will take all of us. I encourage you to check out the new NSPE Advocacy Action Center for issues in your state or to reach out to your state and federal legislators on issues. Let’s hold our legislators accountable.
Educating for the Future
At the national level, we’ve increased our continuing education offerings this year—see our upcoming webinar schedule in the PE Institute—and are working with state societies to increase their educational offerings. We’re also working to make those quality offerings available across state lines to benefit more NSPE members and nonresident engineers.
Ensuring PEs can count on a qualified engineering team is also critical. NICET is moving forward with plans for remote proctoring as well as developing an In-Building Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement Systems certification program with the Safer Buildings Coalition. Staff is also working with state DOTs to better communicate the value of NICET certification.
Diversity and Tomorrow’s Engineer
We continue to receive mostly positive responses to our diversity initiatives. Fundamentally, I believe diversity makes our workplaces better, with a variety of opinions bringing about better designs; and I believe it is the right thing to do. Additionally, there is a strong business imperative here, whether you are considering the cost/benefit of innovation or the shortage of engineers we are facing. While the pandemic may somewhat delay retirement for some, we’ve seen it speed up the decision for others. There is a very real shortage of engineers to fill the spots of retiring baby boomers and projected growth in various fields. Focusing on diversity in STEM, as well as retention of women and minorities in the profession, will be how we sustain. NSPE’s new Emerging Leader Program and the Maryland Society of Professional Engineers’ new mentoring program are examples of how we make a difference.
I hope to “see” you soon on a webinar or in a virtual meeting. And mark your calendars now for the 2021 Professional Engineers Conference in Philadelphia next July 7–11. I am so looking forward to seeing you all in person at our annual gathering!