NSPE Today: Outlook
New Year, New Beginnings, New Opportunities
BY TRICIA HATLEY, P.E., F.NSPE, PRESIDENT 2020–21
Happy new year! Our anticipation for 2021 was immense by the time we ended the dreadful year 2020. A new year often brings excitement, but this year it is different. Before we throw 2020 in the trash, I would like to celebrate the positive events and outcomes of the past year, recognizing the challenge in doing so because of the losses and heartache that so many endured related to the pandemic and all its ripple effects. Even through those many challenges, there were joyful life moments such as births, marriages, graduations, and promotions. The events of last year also provided the platform for long-term positive change in many regards. It is my hope that 2021 is a year of great advancement and exciting new possibilities for our country, our profession, and our organization.
To begin, NSPE welcomes our new executive director and CEO, Monika Schulz, to our headquarters building in Alexandria. I can’t tell you how excited I am to lead the organization through the beginning of this new chapter in our rich history. Over the coming months, I will be working closely with this person as we collaborate to advance our mission and vision. I imagine that we will have some town hall meetings and various other forums to allow each of you to interact with our leadership team. And we all are looking forward to seeing each other in person in Philadelphia in July. Make your plans now to join us for a fabulous conference in the heart of our country’s historic beginnings.
As we turn our calendars to the new year, we also welcome in new legislators at both the state and national level. With change comes opportunity for NSPE to share our story and educate the incoming legislators in keeping our strategic plan focus of Shaping Public Policy. If you are not engaged with your state senator and representative, now is an excellent time to reach out and introduce yourself. Most of them come from nontechnical fields and sincerely appreciate the knowledge and experience that you, as a highly technical professional, can offer them. NSPE’s government relations team will be contacting our national legislators to share the story of the professional engineer and discuss the value of responsible professional licensure. We anticipate a busy legislative season as we work to protect your license, so please bookmark our advocacy center webpage and check in frequently for updates.
Another bright spot for the new year is NICET. When COVID closed testing centers across the country last year, our staff put their efforts into high gear to make remote proctoring available to those wishing to test for a certification. This alternative to in-person exams is imminent (or it may be available by the time you read this). Remote proctoring will be available on a limited basis and allows candidates to conveniently take certification exams in the comfort of their home or office while being monitored by an offsite proctor through a webcam. This option is a critical piece to our plan for Driving Growth.
I also want to share some updates regarding our bright future and efforts in two additional key focus areas of the strategic plan: Promoting Diversity and Tomorrow’s Engineer and Educating for the Future. The NSPE Emerging Leader Program has been meeting virtually since PE Day in early August. This group of 20 dedicated and passionate engineers has taken on the challenge of remote learning with gusto! In February, they will present their projects to the NSPE Board of Directors, challenging us to look beyond the status quo and find new and exciting ways to engage together in achieving our mission.
At the same time, dedicated state society volunteers are taking part in our Road to the Summit leadership development program. This is another critical element of the Driving Growth key focus area in the strategic plan. Each month, the participants meet virtually to learn best practices for strengthening our Society so it can achieve our strategic goals of growing membership, enhancing the profession, and acting in the public good. These volunteers are giving back by contributing their own time to build a leadership foundation that will serve NSPE well in the years ahead.
I can plainly see that NSPE is in good hands with the participants in both of these programs.
And don’t forget that February ushers in Engineers Week. This year will be different for many of us as our student engagement efforts will be virtual or postponed, as you can read in this issue’s cover story. I encourage you to find creative ways to celebrate EWeek. Let us not allow a global pandemic to hamper our efforts in sharing our story and cultivating the next generation of engineering leaders.
We are in this together, and together we are a stronger NSPE and a stronger voice for the engineering community.