NSPE Today: Outlook
Passion for the Profession
BY 2019–20 PRESIDENT DAVID MARTINI, P.E., F.NSPE
One of the many privileges of being president of NSPE is the opportunity to travel and meet people from around the country. My travels have allowed me to expand my knowledge of the engineering profession and see the wonderful things that are happing every day to promote and protect the value of the PE. I have also had the chance to meet with many of NSPE’s partners that promote the profession and reach audiences beyond those that NSPE can efficiently reach on its own.
During a recent trip to Kansas City, I learned about exciting programs that look to expand young people’s exposure to STEM. The KC STEM Alliance is an example of a collaborative network of educators, business partners, and organizations that inspires interest in science, technology, engineering, and math careers. The alliance aims to address the lack of STEM education opportunities for students in KC’s central city—opportunities that are afforded to students in the metro area’s more affluent zip codes. The alliance provides resources for students to participate in programs like FIRST Robotics and Project Lead the Way. Financial and volunteer support is provided along with the physical space that is necessary to grow these programs.
CREDIT: ARGENIS APOLINARIO
The skills and life lessons that the KC STEM Alliance and other programs like it promote are fantastic. It also provides a chance to highlight all the pieces of the engineering team. For various reasons, not all students are destined to attend a four-year college. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds and talents. Certification programs and technical schools can also be a great path forward, depending on your goals and ambitions. For a team to be successful, different talents, backgrounds, and viewpoints are needed. One of the exciting things that I learned about FIRST Robotics is that in some competitions, students need to scout and ultimately join forces with other robots to complete certain tasks. What a great analogy for the teams we work on every day! Bring a group of people together that builds on the strengths of each member of the team to complete a task. If every member of the team brings the same talents, viewpoints, and approach to solving problems, it goes without saying, that the team will have a hard time reaching its full potential. Imagine a football team that only has running backs or a baseball team that only has catchers.
Another enjoyable experience has been the opportunity to meet with faculty from different colleges and universities who talk with passion about the educational opportunities that students have today that I could only have dreamed of when I was in school. Students have opportunities to collaborate with engineers from around the world without leaving the classroom. They work in labs that have cutting-edge technologies and equipment. They learn in classrooms with smartboards and technology that makes interacting with their professors easier than ever, and they have access to industry partners, which allows students to translate what they are learning in the classroom to the real world.
Another joy of mine is meeting with engineering students to talk about the engineering profession. Sharing my experiences and the steps that are necessary to become licensed is a way to give back to the profession that I believe is very worthwhile. At times, it can be easy to take for granted the opportunities I have had over the course of my career to learn and expand my knowledge. Having the chance to share my experiences and the path that I have taken to grow as a professional is truly an honor. Students want to know how important GPA is. Should they get an internship? When/should they take the FE? Why should they become licensed? Many of the same questions I had when I was a student.
These discussions give me the chance to tell my personal story and talk about why I believe so strongly in the need for licensure and its role in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The engineering profession has given me and my family opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, and I am eager to share my experiences with students with the hope that they will have the chance to pursue a career that is as fulfilling as mine.
As I have stated in the past, I truly believe that most every opportunity that I have had, both personally and professionally, has come because someone helped me along the way and invited me to participate. With that in mind, I will ask again, who invited you? And, who will you invite?