NSPE Gateway to Government March/April 2010
In This Issue of PEG e-News...

Nominate Fellow Engineers for NSPE Awards

NSPE offers several awards that have upcoming nomination deadlines in 2010. Below are just a few of the award programs NSPE will be conducting this year. To see the complete list of NSPE awards, please visit the NSPE Awards Web page.

PEPP QBS Award (April 23 deadline):

The ACEC-NSPE QBS Awards Program was established by NSPE to recognize public agencies that make exemplary use of the QBS selection process at the state and local level.

PEGASUS (May 1 deadline)

The Professional Engineers in Government is administering the annual PEGASUS Award program. The Professional Engineer in Government Achievement and Service in the United States Award recognizes the engineer who has made the most outstanding contribution to the advancement and practice of engineering. The PEGASUS award will honor a registered professional engineer employed by a state, regional, county, special district, or municipal government.


Education Springs Anew

NSPE's spring Web seminar series kicks off in January with the following topics:

  • Leadership
  • Faculty Licensure
  • Digital Signatures
  • Positioning Yourself for the Next Job: Your Professional Toolkit
  • How to Start Your Own Firm
  • Presentation Skills for Engineers

In addition, the popular Ethics Forum will be back with three new offerings. Check the NSPE Web site the first week in January to see a more detailed listing and to register.

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Teens Showcase Design and Engineering Skills at FIRST Robotics Competition

This year's event runs Thursday through Saturday, March 25-27, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center. Thursday is a designated practice day with qualifying rounds taking place all day Friday and Saturday morning. Final rounds begin Saturday afternoon. Admission is free and open to the public throughout the competition.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) combines extreme sports with engineering and technology to inspire young people's interest and participation in science, technology, and engineering.

The FIRST Robotics competition challenges high school students, while working with professional mentors, to design and build a robot to compete in an event that measures the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration and the determination of students.

This year, 60 teams will face off in a new robotics game called "Breakaway" which includes two groups of three teams competing on a 27-by-54-foot field with bumps, attempting to earn points by collecting soccer balls in goals. Additional bonus points will be earned for each robot suspended in air and not touching the field at the end of the match.

For a complete listing of the 60 teams, visit: http://www.oai.org/firstbuckeye/teams.htm.

Since mid-January, student teams, along with their teachers and mentors, have worked with an identical kit of parts, but no instructions, to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet this season's engineering challenge. Participating in the competition gives students a glimpse of what engineering is all about and provides them the opportunity to gain experience in teamwork, time management, and problem solving.

The Buckeye Regional is sponsored by NASA's Glenn Research Center along with corporations and academic and nonprofit organizations throughout Ohio. It is one of 43 regional competitions across the United States, Canada, and Israel that lead up to the 2010 FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 15-17.

FIRST is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools, and communities. Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering.

NASA's support of FIRST is one way the agency is engaging students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, disciplines critical to NASA's space exploration missions. For more information about FIRST and NASA's other education programs, visit http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/descriptions/FIRST_Robotics.


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Engineers to the Rescue

Principle No.1: Maintain first, but not maintence only. We need to fix our worst problems first, but also make a few critical investments to drive quality of life and economic growth.

Principle No.2: Use all funding tools available.

Principle No.3: Ensure everyone has "skin in the game." The quality of decisions dramatically improves when the entity making the request invests some money of its own into the process.

Principle No.4: Shared decision making is essential.

Priciple No. 5: Sustainability is imperative. A life-cycle planning perspective should be taken on long-wave activities. Whatever we do, we need to do it now.

To read the full article, see the March 2010 issue of PE magazine.

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Vermont and the Nuclear Debate

Brad Aldrich, P.E., F.NSPE

President Obama has made a push to promote the construction of nuclear power facilities as part of his long-range energy plan. This has met with opposition from environmental groups and others with concerns about safety and the environment. To further confuse the issue, a number of nuclear power plants are reaching the end of their 40-year licenses, and the debate is ramping up concerning whether licenses should be extended.

Nowhere is this more hotly contested that in my own state of Vermont, where Vermont Yankee’s license expires in 2012. There has been a very active antinuclear campaign for a number of years that has tried to shut down the plant. The movement has gained substantial momentum lately as Vermont Yankee has had several “age related” problems, from a cooling-tower failure to tritium leaks in underground piping, which is contaminating groundwater on the site. These and other issues bring into question whether the plant can safely and reliably be operated after its license expires.

Adding to the mix, the Vermont legislature is in a unique position, having authority to approve the relicensing. Why they have this authority will take too long to explain here, but suffice it to say that there is a lot of political grandstanding on the issue. What’s at stake for Vermont is the closure of an electrical generating facility that provides 30% of our baseline power at a very affordable rate. Vermont enjoys some of the cheapest electric rates in the northeast due to favorable pricing for power from Vermont Yankee and Hydro Quebec. With these two sources comprising the substantial majority of our baseline power, Vermont also has one of the most “green” energy portfolios of any state in the U.S.

The decision whether Vermont Yankee should be closed in 2012 should be based on whether the plant can operate safely and reliably for another 20 years. This is an engineering assessment, not a political one. That said, watching our state legislators discuss the issue is on the one hand entertaining, but on the other hand rather disconcerting as the real issues and arguments take a backstage to misinformation and misrepresentation. This is a good time for engineers to start speaking up and taking a more active role politically as debates such as this take place throughout the U.S. I’ve been involved in the debate in Vermont, trying to bring the discussion back to the facts and a reasonable risk analysis of alternatives. Wish me luck!

To comment on this blog entry, visit our Web site.

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2009-10 PEG Executive Board Contact Information

Louise Carosi Doyle, P.E.

Sandra Knight, P.E., F.NSPE, M.ASCE

John Cardarelli II, Ph.D., P.E.

Immediate Past Chair & BOD Representative
Tim Madhanagopal, P.E., BCEE, F.NSPE

Northeastern Regional Vice Chair
David Alan Janover, P.E.

Southeastern Regional Vice Chair
D. Scott Wolf, P.E., PLS

Central Regional Vice Chair
Kirankumar Topudurti, Ph.D., P.E.

Southwest Regional Vice Chair
Mark Dubbin, P.E.

Western & Pacific Regional Vice Chair
Michael Simpson, P.E.

North Central Regional Vice Chair
Gary J. Pendergrass, P.E., RG

Young Engineer Representative
D. Scott Wolf, P.E., PLS


NSPE Regions

Central Region
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin

North Central Region
Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

Northeast Region
Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont

Southeast Region
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia

Southwest Region
Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming

Western Region
Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington  [ return to top ]

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