NSPE Gateway to Government Spring 2013
In This Issue of PEG e-News...



CDC Engineer Named Federal Engineer of the Year

NSPE held its 34th annual Federal Engineer of the Year Award (FEYA) ceremony on Thursday, February 21, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

More than 100 people were in attendance as NSPE and its Professional Engineers in Government interest group recognized and honored 22 outstanding engineering professionals representing 13 federal government agencies and the U.S. Armed Services. The 2013 FEYA recipient is Captain Richard Gelting, Ph.D., P.E., with the Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The keynote speaker was the Honorable Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., the U.S. Surgeon General.

We invite you to read more about Captain Gelting and view photos and an excellent video highlighting this year's FEYA ceremony on NSPE's Web site [ return to top ]

The Effects of Sequestration

Have you been professionally affected by the recent sequestration? PE magazine is researching a possible article about the effects on engineers and would love to hear about your experience.

Please send an e-mail to pemagazine@nspe.org. Thanks!

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New Spring Webinars!

Register for these online webinars.

Conversation About Professional Practice Issues
April 17, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.)
Join NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel
Arthur Schwartz and a panel of engineering ethics experts for a discussion on academic integrity, recommending termination of employment, duty to advise client of a subpoena, and conflicts of interest. Polling questions and an opportunity for Q&A will allow for audience interaction. 1 PDH

Leading as an Engineering Responsibility
April 23, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.)
There is a lot of talk these days about leadership and excellence. What does leadership mean to you? Do you believe that only executives can be leaders? Why should you be concerned about leadership yourself? Why is it important for engineers and scientists to step up to leadership? Do you add value to your organization? How can you have more influence in your organization and have more fulfillment in your professional and personal and life?

If these issues are of interest to you, you will want to join the NSPE webinar on April 23 to hear Ron Bennett speak. Ron and coauthor Elaine Millam have just published Leadership for Engineers: The Magic of Mindset. The book is based on interviews and research on leadership development of working technical professionals, and represents their 80+ years of experience in industry and academia developing leadership skills in working adults. 1 PDH

Engineering Ethics: A Conversation About Safety, Confidentiality, Online Engineering Services, and Other Issues
May 15, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.)

Join NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel
Arthur Schwartz and a panel of engineering ethics experts for a discussion of providing online engineering services, accepting promotional advertising as consideration, safety issues relating to highway scaffolding, and expert witness confidentiality obligations. Polling questions and an opportunity for Q&A will allow for audience interaction. 1 PDH

The Pros & Cons of Using Consultants
May 16, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.)
Presented by: 
Christian J. Knutson, P.E., PMP
Many engineering firms and public agencies find it difficult maintaining the right mix of engineering capability and capacity for every situation. The reason is simple: reduced budgets, limited staff, and an infrequent need for certain specialties. To remedy this, most firms and public agencies rely on consultants to provide manning assistance, advisory services, and niche skills. Before making the decision to use consultants, a clear assessment of the pros and cons is necessary. During this 60-minute webinar session, participants will gain insight on what factors to assess in making the decision to use consultants, as well as the factors to consider when developing expectations and contracts for consultants. 1 PDH [ return to top ]

Advocacy for ITS Research, Applications Steadily Advancing

Steve Storts

From an outside-the-box perspective, many engineers would contend that the best and safest intelligent transportation system (ITS) would be one in which passenger vehicles operate themselves totally, unimpeded by the decision-making of subjective, emotional, and sometimes careless drivers. This scenario is often futuristically displayed on-screen in theater and television productions. In fact, however, driver-less or “autonomous” vehicles are already being developed, prototyped, and road-tested by manufacturers, with some commercialization around the corner.

Currently, three U.S. states—California, Florida, and Nevada—have approved vehicle statutes permitting driver-less, smart cars. Future economic markets, of course, will determine the overall availability, affordability, and viability of these ITS vehicles. In the meantime, engineers in public service are being tasked with advancing a smarter transportation infrastructure. The goals for engineering a broader ITS spectrum are significant: maximizing use of the current transportation infrastructure and reducing the need for additional highway capacity; improving traffic flow; reducing congestion and emissions; and collecting real-time data to measure and improve transportation system performance.

Among the tangible benefits, current ITS technologies are helping drivers to avoid accident sites, obtain real-time traffic updates, and pay roadway tolls at normal driving speeds. Newer technologies under research and development by the U.S. Department of Transportation will allow vehicles to wirelessly exchange data regarding intersections and street locations to prevent the occurrence of accidents and to connect with infrastructure networks to decrease congestion and improve efficiency and mobility. These initiatives are part of a broader DOT strategy, including a core project called IntelliDrive.

Directed by the agency’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, IntelliDrive envisions an ITS where roadway accidents and their tragic consequences are rare because vehicles of all types can sense and communicate any events or potential hazards happening around them. Such a capability will require a fully connected, information-rich environment where travelers, transit riders, freight managers, system operators, and other users are aware of all aspects of the system’s performance. For urban, more congested traffic patterns, IntelliDrive is focusing on ways that vehicles of all types can communicate with traffic signals to eliminate unnecessary stops and encourage driving in a more fuel-efficient manner.

Advancements in ITS technologies by states and municipalities are gaining momentum, too, some a mirror reflection of those supported by federal research. Local governments are realizing the value of vehicles that can communicate the status of onboard systems and provide useful information for travelers and system operators to mitigate the impact of vehicles on the environment or make more informed choices about travel modes. Rural areas have also made great strides the last few years in deploying ITS technology toward a number of purposes:  enhancing safety; improving emergency response; providing information on road and weather conditions; making public transportation more accessible and efficient; deterring large animals from dangerous roadways; and promoting tourism and recreation.
The Council of State Governments points out that the Dallas and San Diego metropolitan areas are among the nation’s first to use advanced ITS technologies to help fight congestion and enhance travel, with other cities expected to launch new or expanded smart transportation capabilities. CGS further notes that more than 40 local, state, or regional agencies around the country disseminate traffic information through 511 traveler information services via telephone and Internet access in all or parts of 36 states, with Tennessee and Florida recently expanding their traffic-monitoring systems.

In 2009, more than 20 states sought American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to invest in ITS technologies, including traffic cameras, express toll lanes, and improved traffic signals or accident alert systems. Additionally, the I-95 Corridor Coalition between North Carolina and New Jersey, the North/West Passage Coalition in the upper Midwest, and the Transportation Operations Coordinating Committee in the New York City metro area are providing updated traffic information.

Although there is evidence of ITS advancements nationwide, the speed of implementation is not quite as evident, according to one advocacy group. The Information and Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., reports that the United States lags behind other industrialized nations in utilizing these new technologies, due primarily to a lack of investment and a greater focus on research rather than deployment. The foundation recommends a significant increase in federal funding for ITS initiatives, at least $3 billion annually. As a comparison, much smaller countries such as Japan and South Korea allocate $700 million and $230 million, respectively, toward their smart transportation programs.

The arrival of newer ITS technologies is not without its challenges, though, CSG contends. While some deployments are local, many others must be limited to a national scale. Moreover, transportation funding is sometimes allocated without consideration of performance, giving transportation planners little incentive for investments that can have a maximum impact on optimizing ITS performance. Oftentimes, too, ITS projects have to compete for funding with road repairs and maintenance that may be more immediately pressing—and more politically popular—but don’t deliver the same long-term returns.

CSG cites case studies showing that although highway capacity investments can deliver a benefit-cost ratio of 2.7-to-1, ITS technologies can deliver a 9-1 ratio. For instance, a national real-time traffic information system is estimated to cost $1.2 billion, but it would deliver value benefits of $30.2 billion, a 25-1 return ratio on the initial investment. Other research shows that a $9.9 million annual cost of a traffic operations management system in Broward County, Florida, yielded a benefit of $142 million in reduced travel time, fuel consumption, emissions, and secondary accidents, a 14-1 ratio.

As the general public expands use of personal communication technologies and more smart features are added to vehicles, undoubtedly, states will push ahead with testing and implementation of more ITS components into their transportation infrastructures. These advancements will address connected vehicle applications and technology, including enhanced vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure safety communications, improved mobility systems, real-time data monitoring, active traffic management, and smarter roadside assistance.
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A State-by-State Summary of Liability Laws

A must-have tool for firms drafting, negotiating service agreements, and managing risks in various states. To help guard against increasing liability claims, this excellent resource describes the current status of every state’s key engineering liability-related provision. It also includes information and language regarding statues of repose, certificate of merit, sole-source worker’s compensation, joint liability provisions, and anti-indemnity statutes and limitations of liability.

Purchase your copy today at "Shop NSPE." Discounted NSPE member price is $25.
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NSPE Backs Federal Engineers

The Senate has dropped a continuing resolution amendment that would have arbitrarily restricted the number of government employees who can attend a meeting or conference. NSPE, in conjunction with a number of other organizations, sent a letter in opposition to the amendment arguing in part that it would have resulted in fewer opportunities for federal engineers to learn and exchange information with the private sector.

To read the full letter,
click here.  
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201213 PEG Executive Board Contact Information

Kirankumar Topudurti, Ph.D., P.E.

Scott Wolf, P.E., PLS


Immediate Past-Chair
David Alan Janover, P.E.

Northeastern Region Vice Chair
David N. Rackmales, P.E.

Southeastern Region Vice Chair
Bill Bowie, P.E.

Central Region Vice Chair
Dr. Scott Haraburda, P.E., Ph.D.

Southwest Region Vice Chair
Mark Dubbin, P.E.

Western & Pacific Region Vice Chair
Patrick M. Coullahan, P.E., PMP, CFM

North Central Region Vice Chair
Donald Neumann, P.E.

Young Engineer Representative
Josh Aldred, P.E.

HOD Representative
Sandra Knight, P.E., F.NSPE, F.ASCE

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