NSPE Gateway to Industry Fall 2013
In This Issue of PEI e-News...

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Fall Ethics Forum

Each webinar is only $99 for NSPE members. For more information and to register, please visit the NSPE Web site.

Ethics Forum: A Conversation about Conflicts of Interest with Vendors and Colleagues

Join NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Arthur Schwartz and a panel of engineering ethics experts for a one hour discussion on issues relating to serving as a consultant to a redevelopment authority, loans from contractors, spouse as vendor, opinions of engineering experts, and other issues.

Participants will be able to pose questions to the panelists, be provided with written handout materials, and will be able to participate in a post webinar quiz, as required by state engineering licensure boards.

October 23, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.)

Ethics Forum: A Conversation about Conflicts of Interest and the Public

Join NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Arthur Schwartz and a panel of engineering ethics experts for a one hour discussion on issues relating to community service, design and construction of a house in a flood zone, serving as the chairman of a home owners association, serving on a hospital board, and other issues.

Participants will be able to pose questions to the panelists, be provided with written handout materials, and will be able to participate in a post webinar quiz, as required by state engineering licensure boards.

November 20, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.)  [ return to top ]

Successful Teamwork Requires Organized, Visionary Training

As often noted, many companies choosing to utilize team concepts do so with the goal of sustaining and improving various operations within their organization. Successful enterprises also realize that through honing and expanding employee team strategies, the challenges of integrating organizational change can be better addressed, and any negative consequences or resistance to change can be reduced greatly.

Working as a team during training systematically guarantees success because everyone is encouraged to practice together and support one another. It is, in some form, built-in mentoring. When all team members under the direction of an engineering manager, supervisor, or team leader are learning new procedures together, the chances of transference and employee satisfaction dramatically increase.

In a group or team environment, employees are able to share their experiences, increase familiarity, and motivate each other across generational divides or cultural differences. These results are often difficult to obtain from webinars, prerecorded training, or canned presentations. The best starting point for team training is with a small group of employees that can work together and discuss or brainstorm resolutions to challenges. Of course, the objective should always be to equate training success with actual business performance.

A key point in maximizing training effectiveness is to ensure that team members remain actively involved in relevant learning—not sitting back passively. Active participation can be achieved through personal interaction, asking questions of the facilitator and each other, practice exercises, and self-defined activities such as selecting one or more aspects of the training for possible implementation in the work environment.

When developing team-building programs, a core set of elements must also be defined. These include such specifics as the theme of any exercises, the measurable objectives and achievable standards to be set, the relevant processes required, and a time frame for conducting exercises, whether an hour, a day, or several days. Equally important, all participants in team-building programs must understand the necessity for aligning their performance with the established overall performance goals and management systems of their company.

Additionally, it is a good idea to assign an individual to a team-building or training exercise to be solely responsible for keeping all participants updated with any relevant information. This will help guarantee continuity and smoothness among team participants during their training, especially if it is conducted over an extended period of time.

Nearly all team-building programs begin with simple problem-solving exercises. These can be fictitious scenarios, but they should have some applicability to actual workplace situations. They should also adhere to the same structural format, such as the following:

  • Clearly state the issue and why it is a problem;
  • Draft well-defined goals for addressing the problem, including the potential benefits for a successful resolution;
  • Identify and prioritize all barriers to the goals;
  • List the activities, methods, or approaches to be used in developing probable solutions to the problem; and
  • Define benchmarks for the measuring success of the team exercise.  

A cooperative “buy-in” among all team members is a necessity before any activity commences, as this one element can derail any problem-solving exercise if overlooked. Assuming everyone’s cooperation is at hand, the team leader carries out the execution of the exercise, making sure that all team members are sharing an interactive role in the final outcome. Periodic checks should also be conducted to ensure that the exercise is kept on track, and that the defined problem is effectively resolved, or at the very least, progress is being made toward understanding the issue and addressing it.

Proper evaluation of job performance during any planned company change or transition requires constructive and timely feedback from individual employees on a regular basis. The same holds true for a team management system, and the most useful feedback comes from building team effectiveness. This process all begins with organizational leadership, focusing on five elements: vision, communicating the vision, trust and confidence, self-improvement, and challenges.  

Effective team leadership begins with a company vision or reachable goal for employees, and that vision should encompass some facet of change that an organization is targeting. Several questions need to be answered while developing a team vision: What are the objectives in the change process? What is the blueprint for action? How is the strategy and performance evaluated? Team participation, involvement, and continually inviting feedback from every member will help answer these questions, but never assume that goals remain static. Visions and goals often require occasional updating.  

Communicating a vision requires commitment, but it must always be on a one-to-one basis among team members—and in a comfortable or familiar environment to them. Team leaders should not be authoritative, but instead, listen. Use keywords and phrases to help create positive reinforcement and feedback. Questions such as “What can we do?” or “What do you think?” will go a long way toward instilling a continual feedback mechanism.  

Moreover, managers and supervisors must avoid being lulled into thinking they are the only ones who evaluate. A team constantly evaluates its leader, and a team’s trust and confidence in its leader must be earned the old-fashioned way through hard work and dedication, not authoritative control. Earning a team’s respect will not happen until team members know that its leader means them no harm. In other words, a team needs participation from the leader, not another boss.

Finally, organizational leadership must keep in mind that no one wants to be on a team that is doing nothing; people want to be on a team that is reaching. When one challenging task has been successfully completed, those who contributed to the team’s success should be praised. Then the next challenging project should be created. The best ideas for new tasks usually originate from a company’s own employees or team members. Managers or supervisors should ask for suggestions to be e-mailed or submitted directly to them. One sure way to guarantee constant feedback is to personally acknowledge every comment, idea, or suggestion that is submitted, and then immediately request another [ return to top ]

SEC Approves Final Municipal Advisor Registration Rule

In a victory for the engineering community, the SEC announced that engineers do not have to register if they provide engineering advice such as feasibility studies and cash flow analysis and similar activities related to engineering aspects of a project. On September 18th, the Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously approved the final municipal advisor registration rule which, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, requires municipal advisers to permanently register with the SEC. The final rule clarifies the law's engineering exemption, which exempts engineers providing "engineering advice" from the municipal advisor definition. 

However, this exemption does not apply to activities in which an engineer provides advice regarding municipal financial products or the issuance of municipal securities. For example, an engineer that is engaged by a municipal entity or obligated person to prepare revenue projections to support the structure of an issuance of municipal securities would be providing advice outside the scope of the engineering exclusion and therefore would be engaging in municipal advisory activity. However, an engineer could advise a municipal entity about whether a project could be safely or reliably completed with the available funds and provide engineering advice about other alternative projects, cost estimates, or funding schedules without engaging in municipal advisory activity. Furthermore, an engineering company that informs a municipal entity or obligated person of potential tax savings, discounts, or rebates on supplies would be acting within the scope of the engineering exclusion. Read the SEC's full ruling, as it pertains to the engineering exemption.  [ return to top ]

Forward! Vision and Strategy for PEI

Across a field, an industrial gear rests against a barrel and a sheaf of wheat. In the background, a waterfall churns against the outline of a factory town. Above that landscape, the letters forming “En Avant” hover, blinking like a constellation.

 

While “En Avant” (Forward!) fully accounts for 98% of my entire French vocabulary, the phrase is still a focused, distilled inspiration that calls for progress, advancement, and promise in any language.

 

I am speaking of the official Seal of Minneapolis, the site of the 2013 NSPE Leadership Conference and Annual Meeting, and the setting for my start as chair of the PEI interest group. As a result, the seal was chosen as a symbolic starting point for PEI’s journey into the 201314 fiscal year. Building off the legacy of the PEI leaders before me, we have come a long way and there is plenty of momentum to sustain. Engineers in industry are facing many challenges, many of which extend far beyond the traditional Goliath of industrial exemption. But as Malcolm Gladwell tells us in his book David and Goliath, disadvantages can often be transformed into advantages and vice versa. In working with the voices of PEs and EITs in industry across the country, part of that transformation is what we have been striving to do, opening our focus areas to include industry networking, interdisciplinary collaboration, career development, and PE advocacy.

 

Based on PEI leader input, Race for Relevance discussions, and our linkage to the NSPE Mission, the PEI Executive Committee and I have begun to renew the group's direction. There is a lot to do and only 12 months to do it, so a focus in where we execute is part of our strategy; it has been a task more of recalibration than of reconstruction. The Vision for PEI is E.S.C.A.D.A. (with apologies to the luxe fashion brand): 

 

Energy: We are passionate leaders excited to use our combined diverse expertise in driving results-oriented action within PEI and strive for continuity between present and future leaders.

 

Service: We shall serve the NSPE membership with clear communications and open, transparent dialogue while focusing on applying the NSPE Mission and Vision within the industrial sector.

 

Collaboration: We will engage regularly with other interest groups and NSPE leadership to benchmark and share lessons learned, so that as each interest group gets stronger; and so NSPE gets stronger.

 

Advocacy: We are champions of engineers in the pursuit and attainment of licensure in industry and will engage in actions that promote and enable individuals and companies to embrace licensure.

 

Data-driven: We are guided by information we receive from our membership and will use the rigor of data to drive our business decisions.

 

Accountability: As PEI leaders, we will hold each other accountable to delivering our commitments and demonstrating urgency in serving the NSPE membership.

 

Aside from being just another catchy acronym, ESCADA will be our flashlight as we set concrete, quantifiable objectives for the year and spend the last half of the fiscal year focusing on executing initiatives against those goals. 

 

PEI is always looking for more hands to help steady that flashlight, to focus its beam. So if you are a passionate leader with a penchant for seeing in the dark, I invite you to join us, to help us move “Forward!”

 

Austin S. Lin is the 2013–14 PEI chair. To contact him, e-mail lin.as.1@pg.com

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PEI Seeks Awards Submissions

PEI New Product Award
Don’t miss an opportunity to get national visibility for your product by entering the 2014 PEI New Product Award competition. The competition recognizes any process, machine, or material developed in the U.S. that improves the public’s standard of living.

Winning products will be honored with the PEI New Product Award crystal and are entitled to use the coveted PEI New Product Award logo. Winners will also be recognized in PE magazine, through NSPE’s Web site and print communications, and through significant media coverage.

Submit your entry by February 15, 2014. For an application and list of past NPA winners, visit the
PEI New Product Award Web page.

PEI Service Awards
The PEI Service Awards are presented to licensed professional engineers who have made an outstanding contribution or contributions to advance the causes of the individual "engineer in industry" and/or specifically to the Professional Engineers in Industry interest group of NSPE.

Deadline to apply for PEI Service Awards is January 31, 2014. Visit the
PEI Service Awards Web site for an application.

A list of all NSPE Awards can be found on the NSPE Web site. 
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Contact the 201314 PEI Executive Board Officers

For a complete list of PEI Executive Board Officers, visit the PEI Web site.
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