NSPE's Gateway to Private Practice May 2005 

Introducing Our New PEPP Talk Editor
Randolph Rakoczynski, P.E., F.NSPE

This is my inaugural issue of PEPP Talk, and I feel somewhat concerned about stepping into a very large pair of shoes. There is a certain feeling of intimidation, somewhat like being called out of the dugout to pinch hit in a crucial situation in a key game and being handed Babe Ruth’s bat as I step to the plate. I am sure, however, that with the input from all the PEPP members and PEPP Executive Board, and the diligent assistance of our NSPE-PEPP staff, all future issues of PEPP Talk will continue to bring the information, ideas, and inspiration that our members are looking for.

Quote of the Month

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again ... who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

                                                                       Theodore Roosevelt


In future issues, the quote of the month will be more concise. However, this quote embodies some of my feelings as I step into the position of editor of PEPP Talk as well as providing an inspirational message to the current leaders of NSPE as they receive the work of the Future Directions Task Force and begin to decide the future roles of the practice divisions within NSPE.

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Join PEPP in Chicago at the NSPE Annual Convention July 7-12

NSPE 2005 Annual Convention Chicago, July 7–12

For a calendar of events, as well as descriptions of all convention sessions and activities, go online and click on the "Chicago" icon found on the NSPE Web site. Here is a list of the PEPP events at the convention:

Thursday, July 7

  • 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. PEPP Dinner

Friday, July 8

  • 12:00 - 5:00 p.m. NSPE Legacy Golf Tournament

Saturday, July 9

  • 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. PEPP Executive Board Meeting and Board of Governors Meeting

Sunday, July 10

  • 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. PEPP Council of Principals (presentations on personal liability, performance evaluations, and open session discussion)

Register online by May 15 for the Multi-Day Educational Package and receive a 15% discount.

The convention is a great place to network with other professionals, earn valuable PDHs, and enhance your career in an easy to travel to location. Convention highlights this year include

  • 19 professional development hours
  • Young Engineers Forum
  • Professional networking opportunities
  • Social networking opportunities
  • Engaging speakers
  • Legacy, golfing, and more!

To register, make hotel reservations, or learn more about what the convention has to offer, access the convention Web site through the "Chicago" icon.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Solicits Input on Procurement Process

The United States Army has $1.7 billion slated for new construction projects around the country next year. In anticipation of this new construction, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has requested that NSPE solicit its membership on various issues in order to determine the overall capabilities of the A/E/C industry and how the industry can help the government change the way it handles MILCON projects in order to be as effective as private sector construction projects.

To complete the survey, visit the NSPE Web site and click on "Take part in a survey."

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PEPP Young Engineers Hard at Work and Very Visible

Andrea Martinez, PEPP-YEAC chair, reports that YEAC is continuing its hard work in finalizing the Professional Development Resource Guide. Hopes are to have a completed product available for the upcoming NSPE Annual Convention in Chicago. The guide will cover topics such as leadership, verbal/non-verbal communications, ethics, diversity, and marketing. 

The PEPP-YEAC is also going to be participating in the Young Engineer Forum that will be held at the NSPE Annual Meeting. With 12-15 PEPP-sponsored young engineers attending, PEPP-YEAC is sure to have a major presence at this first ever event.


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PEPP Congratulates Former Chairs on NSPE Leadership Positions

Two former NSPE-PEPP chairs have been recently elected to leadership positions within NSPE. Robert Miller III, P.E., PEPP chair 1999-2000, has been chosen to serve as NSPE president-elect and Russell Devick, P.E., F.NSPE, PEPP chair 2002-03, has been chosen to serve as NSPE treasurer. Congratulations! We know both will serve us well.

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Professional Liability/Risk Management Brief
By Richard B. Garber, Vice President A/E/C Risk Management Services Victor O. Schinnerer & Company

An old adage states that “clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” While design professionals are often chosen on the basis of a referral or the recognized success of past projects, most clients cannot truly evaluate the technical competence of the professionals with whom they deal. Nevertheless, they do know how the professional treats them and how the professional presents him or herself. We all know some professionals who are technically very proficient but whose bedside manner does not communicate that they care. Clients need to feel that they are important to the design professional and that the firm has a positive, professional attitude toward their project. This starts with the person who answers the telephone and applies to everyone, up to and including the principals. A receptionist who can recognize clients’ voices on the telephone and greet them by name contributes to the client’s sense of importance to the firm. This service orientation is also evident when telephone calls are returned promptly, appointments are kept, and meetings begin and end at the scheduled times.

Design professionals who fail to communicate that they care are likely to have a greater incidence of disputes and claims in their practice than other design professionals who may not be as good technically but who interact well with clients and cultivate the clients’ perception that the firm cares and is working hard on the client’s behalf. After all, there are unexpected events and difficulties on every project. It is more difficult to decide to sue a friend than a mere acquaintance, and more difficult still to sue someone whom you know has done all that could reasonably have been done under the circumstances.

Communication with the client is, therefore, extremely important. On the one hand, clients are often simply not fully aware of all the effort that the design professional is expending on their behalf. Therefore, design professionals should be conscious of the need to keep the client so informed. Consider the wisdom of making frequent reports of activities and progress, and forwarding copies of all relevant correspondence with other parties. Whether bringing good or bad news to the client, always convey the message that you are on his or her side and there to assist.

Finally, the client should be involved in decision making. Remember, it is the client's project—the client's investment. Remember also that the design professional is an advisor to the client. The design professional must supply information and advice so that the client can make informed, timely business decisions or give informed, timely consent to the design professional's recommendations. Design professionals, with all the best intentions, sometimes make decisions based on what they would do if it were their project, rather than let the client make the business decision that is properly his to make. It is generally a mistake to substitute the design professional’s business judgment, no matter how good, for that of the client.

Likewise, every interaction with the client, from those by the receptionist to the project manager or principal, is an opportunity to listen to the client. Each meeting or conversation is a chance to hear the client’s concerns and adjust the firm’s focus or performance to meet the client’s expectations and the goals for the project. Not all communication is verbal, sometimes it is simply body language. Whatever the form, be alert to it. Frequently, a member of the staff sees behavior or hears comments that are not shared with the principals, but which indicate that the project or services are off-track and the client is concerned, frustrated, or upset. Every member of the firm should be alert to these problems and report them to the firm’s management for consideration and possible action.

Statements concerning legal matters should be understood to be general observations based solely on our experience as risk consultants and may not be relied upon as legal advice, which we are not authorized to provide. All such matters should be reviewed with a qualified advisor.

Victor O. Schinnerer & Company Inc. is managing underwriter for the CNA/Schinnerer Professional Liability Insurance Program commended by NSPE-PEPP since 1957.

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Small Business Administration Holds Public Hearings

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it is holding a series of public hearings throughout the country to discuss small business size standards. Participation will help the SBA deliberate on an approach to simplify and restructure size standards to make them easier to understand and to use.

For more information on the Public Hearings schedule, visit the SBA Web site.

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NYSSPE Former Executive Director Passes Away

In Memoriam:  It is with deep regret that I share with you the news that the former executive director of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers (NYSSPE), Christine "Tina" Sikora, passed away on Tuesday, May 3, 2005, after a lengthy illness. All of the "old guard" of NSPE and PEPP will undoubtedly remember Tina from prior NSPE national meetings. Although she was diminutive in stature, Tina always spoke her mind and worked tirelessly during her tenure as NYSSPE executive director as an advocate and protector of our profession and the numerous legislative turf battles in New York State that were waged with her guidance.

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Contact the PEPP Executive Board

2004-05 PEPP Executive Board

Fred Palmerton, P.E.
Springfield, MO

Larry Britt, P.E.
Oxford, MS

Immediate Past Chair
John Parisi, P.E.
Green Bay, WI

Steve Theno, P.E.
Anchorage, AK

Vice Chairman, Northeast Region
Randolph Rakoczynski, P.E.
Buffalo, NY

Vice Chairman, Southeast Region
Phil Gee, P.E.
Vicksburg, MS

Vice Chairman, Central Region

Vice Chairman, North Central Region
Kevin Skibiski, P.E.
Springfield, MO

Vice Chairman, Southwest Region
Mark Martin, P.E.
Fayetteville, AR

Vice Chairman, Western and Pacific Region
Steven Dyrnes, P.E.
Portland, OR

Young Engineer Representative
Andrea Martinez
Tampa, FL

SSEC Representative
Pat Christians
Birmingham, AL

PEPP Staff
Kim Granados
1420 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
tel: 703-684-2857
fax: 703-836-4875

Katie Zapko
1420 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
tel: 703-684-2804
fax: 703-836-4875

PEPP Homepage

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PEPP members who are actively involved in stormwater management issues may find the following Web site helpful: eStormWater.com

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