NSPE's Gateway to Private Practice October 2011 

Letter from the New PEPP Chair
Andrea N. Martinez-Graves, P.E., F.NSPE, CFM PEPP Chair 201112

Fall has been a busy time for PEPP. PEPP staff and volunteers have been working hard to help improve the services we are providing to our members. Below are just a couple of the most recent highlights:

  • PEPP Professional Liability Committee (PLC)—At the end of September, PEPP PLC met in Chicago as part of its annual meeting with a/e ProNet, ACEC, and the AIA Trust. At that time, PLC conducted their annual interviews with insurance carriers. Look for the results of this meeting in the coming December issue of PE.

  • Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee (EJCDC)—At the beginning of October, PEPP participated in the EJCDC meeting in Virginia. EJCDC is working on finalizing the revisions to the construction family of documents for release in mid-2012. Also in the works are a public-private partnership set of documents, as there are currently no standard templates for this type of work that is becoming more prevalent. You can find a link to recent contract document case law by EJCDC general counsel Hugh Anderson and another link to recent legal and legislative activities by NSPE general counsel Art Schwartz, in this month’s issue of PEPP Talk.

I would like to end by sending out a “thank you” to all of the PEPP committee and executive board members who volunteer their time to make PEPP a better group. This group volunteers their time to attend conference calls to coordinate PEPP efforts and then takes the time to travel to the annual meeting so that we can all sit down and hash out ways to improve our PEPP services for our members. In the coming months, I hope to highlight the various committees so that our members have a better feel for what PEPP is doing and how you can get involved.

If you have any suggestions on topics we should look at or information you would like to share, please send it to NSPE staff member Kim Granados at kgranados@nspe.org so she can forward to the board. We look forward to your feedback and engagement.

Engaging Employees in Developing New Markets or Services
Alicia Bailey, P.E.

Are you thinking about developing a new market or service? Maybe it’s a service you currently do not provide but your competitors do, or a new market that is seen to be the “next big thing” in your field. With the poor economy, many companies are operating on lean expense budgets and may shy away from allocating resources toward new development. How does a company spend the time and money to research a new market or service with limited funds? Many senior leaders are discovering they can engage their employees to assist in the development. Utilizing your internal resources can, in some instances, be a great cost savings to your company and allow employees to gain a sense of ownership as their hard work and dedication to the development may lead your company to additional work. However, developing a new market or service internally within your company is not an easy task. It requires patience, hard work, leadership, and committed employees for the development.

Below are some best practice suggestions for developing new markets or services:

  1. Create a group to focus on the research and development of the new market or service. This can be accomplished by either asking for volunteers or by hand-picking the employees. Consider the size and members of the group to ensure it’s appropriate in number, personalities, and skill set to do the needed research and develop appropriate strategies. Clarify roles and responsibilities of all group members.
  2. Assign a leader to the group. This is a very important step as this leader should be passionate and excited about the new market or service and will need to have the skills to lead the group of employees toward their final objective. The leader will need to clearly articulate the company’s vision for the new market or service and expectations for the group. The leader will also need to hold group members accountable for results.
  3. Create a mechanism to track time and expenses for the group for their research and development. This will allow your company to have a track record of how long the research and development took and can be used for future reference if ever you decide to explore another market or service.
  4. Call an initial meeting to discuss purpose, goals, and action items. Goals should include short term and long term. The short term goals should be aligned to support the long term goals. All goals should specify a timeframe. The items discussed should be documented. The leader should periodically check in with group members to discuss their progress on accomplishing their action items and goals.
  5. Create a centralized location for all group members to store research and development information for future reference.
  6. Teach others what you have learned. We enforce our learning by teaching others. It may be important for the rest of your company to know what has been learned or for your clients to know what new service you can provide.
  7. Continue group meetings to track goals and action items until deemed no longer necessary.

This model has been used by Sain Associates with good result in a very cost effective manner. NOW is the perfect time to implement a new research and development process for 2012!

Alicia Bailey is a civil engineers with Sain Associates in Birmingham, IL.[ return to top ]

A Community for Developing Engineers

The PEPP Young Engineers Advisory Council (YEAC) now has a LinkedIn group entitled Professional Engineers in Private Practice—Young Engineers Advisory Council. If you're not familiar with LinkedIn, it is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 120 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
By joining the YEAC LinkedIn group, you are becoming part of a community of younger engineers who are interested in developing their leadership skills; becoming better engineers; and helping seasoned engineers learn how to help, mentor, and motivate young engineers.

When you join the group you can get involved in the current career development discussions, start your own discussion, or read and comment on the informative articles that have been posted by other group members. The group also allows you to connect with other younger engineers with whom you can share your career successes and challenges or ask advice on your next career move.

Please take advantage of this great free career resource for engineers. To visit the group, go to  http://linkd.in/YEACGROUP or contact one of the group managers, Jason Vaughn at jvaughn@smeinc.com or Anthony Fasano at afasano@powerfulpurpose.com.[ return to top ]

Field Guide for Inspection of Sewerage and Drainage Construction

An inspector plays a crucial role in any construction project. The job demands knowledge, awareness, keen observation skills, and the ability to deal with contractors and project owners. A Field Guide For Inspection of Sewerage and Drainage Construction, published by the Professional Engineers in Construction, provides the inspector the necessary knowledge to inspect sewerage and drainage construction projects.

The guide, specifically written to advance the mission of high-quality construction standards, provides a series of proven policies, established procedures and techniques, and helpful resources such as “Inspection Checklists” that are applicable to construction projects on any size or scale.

This guide is available a in ShopNSPE.

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Significant Legal and Legislative Activities


Prepared for the Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee (EJCDC), October 78 in Arlington, VA.


Coalition Calls for Innovative Transportation PoliciesA bipartisan coalition is calling on political leaders in Washington to stop the bickering and set policies to rebuild and invest in the nation's infrastructure in order to restore economic strength and spur job creation.

A new report points out how the U.S. has lost its competitive edge and is one of the only leading nations that doesn’t have a plan for public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects or a national infrastructure bank. Significant changes must be made to restore the nation's economic strength. The report makes the following recommendations for the federal government to craft innovative transportation policies:

·         Develop a national infrastructure strategy for the next decade that makes choices based on economics, not politics. The U.S. should adopt a 10-year national plan for strategic investments that focuses primarily on transportation with attention to other infrastructure challenges such as water and the electrical grid. The investment should be at least $200 billion per year, and the strategy will create nearly 5 million jobs for the next decade.

·         Pass a six-year transportation bill updated to compete in the 21st century global economy.
A new bill would provide a plan that sets clear priorities and makes hard choices based on increasing economic return and mobility while reducing congestion and pollution. The investment strategy should focus on projects that will yield results—aviation systems, high-speed rail in key corridors, freight rail, public transit, and maintenance of the U.S. transportation network.

·         Be both innovative and realistic about how to pay. A national infrastructure bank must leverage private dollars and invest in the best big projects, including those spanning state boundaries or encompassing multiple modes of transportation. All long-term revenue generating options should be considered which includes an increased federal gas tax, congestion pricing, carbon auctions, fees based on miles traveled, or reserves built into capital budgets.

·         Promote accountability and innovation. The federal government should establish clear criteria for all funding, encourage state and local innovation through competitive grants, streamline the project delivery process to ensure projects are started quickly, and carefully audit the results to ensure projects are completed on time, on budget, and yielding promised results.

Building Institute Says New Data Needed for High-Performance BuildingsThe National Institute of Building Sciences is starting its own high-performance building information initiative to fill the void left after budget cuts and statistical errors have apparently stalled efforts to update data at the federal level.

It's a move that could help the high-performance building market avoid negative effects of increasingly obsolete data used for commissioning and rating said buildings, NIBS officials say.

Officials with the Energy Information Administration said in April they would not be releasing results of their 2007 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey because statistical issues have made the data unusable. Additionally, work on a similar 2011 survey is being suspended due to budget cuts from the federal budget compromise for fiscal year 2011. That means the most recent energy information for commercial buildings is from 2003 and is quickly becoming outdated, say NIBS officials.

That data is important because federal officials use it to set Energy Star benchmarks, which are then used both as direct thresholds for building inspections in places like Washington, D.C., and as pieces of overall building ratings systems like the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED and LEED-EB ratings.

NIBS officials say surveys of high-performance buildings need to continue as the market for energy efficient structures grows. If the information becomes older, the market for high-performance buildings could diminish as it becomes harder to accurately determine how efficient or inefficient a building is.

"The nation is in the midst of a fundamental shift toward high-performance buildings. The significant gap of reliable data from [the Energy Information Administration] is extremely troubling at a time when the building community is thirsting for quantifiable statistics to show their actions to save energy are working," says NIBS President Henry Green.

NIBS is in the process of seeing what information the high-performance building community wants and can collect, says Ryan Colker, presidential advisor at NIBS. Officials also want to devise the best way to collect and disseminate that information.

Role for PEs in Pipeline Safety Upgrades? Natural gas explosions in Allentown, Pennsylvania, earlier this year and in San Bruno, California, late last year have renewed a call from Washington for safer pipeline management.

Where PEs fit into that discussion is yet to be determined. There are currently no requirements for PEs to oversee pipeline inspections at the federal level, according to Department of Transportation spokeswoman Julia Valentine. DOT officials, who oversee pipeline operations in the U.S., are asking industry players and the public for ways to improve pipeline oversight and safety and have not yet determined if PEs will be a part of that solution, Valentine says.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called for increased pipeline safety after a natural gas explosion in Allentown killed five people on February 9. Deaths from pipeline accidents have climbed for the past three years to 22 in 2010 despite a decline in the overall number of pipeline incidents, according to DOT figures.

In response to LaHood's call for greater safety, industry leaders focused on two issues during an April 18 forum at DOT headquarters in Washington: better support and enforcement for state "call before you dig" programs and support for the DOT's Pipeline Informed Planning Alliance.

To view state legislative issues click here. [ return to top ]

Educate Yourself; NSPE Fall Webinar Series

NSPE’s Fall Webinar lineup covers everything from Ethics to Career Development. Check out the list below to find the course you are looking for and fulfill your PDH requirements. Click on the title for the full course description.


Whistleblowing: What Are the PE’s Obligations to Report Misconduct?
November 9, 2011, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1PDH
$149.00/ $99.00 Member Price 

Business Development

IT Solutions for AEC Professionals
November 3, 2011, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1PDH
$149.00/ $99.00 Member Price

Harnessing the Power of Change
November 15, 2011, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1PDH
$149.00/ $99.00 Member Price

How to Conduct Effective Meetings
November 29, 2011, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1PDH
$149.00/ $99.00 Member Price

Strategic Planning
December 13, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1PDH
$149.00/ $99.00 Member Price

Career Development

Career Transitions
November 10, 2011, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1PDH
$49.00/ $25.00 Member Price

Visit the NSPE Website for all other Web Seminar Listings.[ return to top ]

Become a PEPP Sustaining Firm

Now through October 31, get 10% off the price of becoming a 2012 PEPP Sustaining Firm and ensure your firm is listed in PEPP’s online searchable directory. Your support is needed for the efforts of the Professional Engineers in Private Practice (PEPP) as we strive to promote the hard-earned Professional Engineer (PE) designation and enhance the image of the PE in private practice.

As a 2012 PEPP Sustaining Firm, you will receive the following benefits:
•    Online exposure: You’ll be included in a searchable directory that includes a complete description of your firm’s specialties. NSPE’s Web site receives more than 75,000 user sessions per month. Let owners and other customers and partners find you! All PEPP Sustaining Firms are listed at: www.nspe.org/PEPP/Supporters
•    Recognition: Listing in an issue of NSPE’s PE magazine (circulation is approx. 40,000) and in PEPP Talk, a monthly electronic newsletter sent to more than 11,000 PEPP members.

•    Valuable discounts: 25% discount on ads in PE magazine, monthly e-newsletter NSPE Update, Web banners, and Job Board postings.

Your options to participate include the following (*Price reflects 10% discount for payments received by 10/31/11).

Bronze Level $153*
(regularly $170) Listing only. Includes listing and link to firm’s Web site and e-mail address.

Silver Level $216* (regularly $240) Listing plus Facebook and Twitter. Includes Bronze level package plus companies can provide a non-self-promotional tip of the day (250 words or less) to be featured on the NSPE Facebook page and Twitter page, with a direct link to your firm’s Web site and/or social media platform. E-mail tip (.gif or .jpg file, up to 10KB) to jcoleman@nspe.org (703-684-2833).

Gold Level $517* (regularly $575) PEPP Featured Firm package. Includes Silver level package plus complimentary registration ($495 value) to the 2012 Synergy HR & Finance Roundtable in Alexandria, VA.

Please complete the form and MAIL or FAX them back today! Your participation will not only help you reach potential clients and partners, it will also provide valuable support for our industry and profession. Please visit www.nspe.org/PEPP for a complete list of PEPP programs. 

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PEPP 2010-11
Executive Board

Andrea Martinez-Graves
Tampa, FL

Dawn Edgell
Chair Elect
Aurora, IL

Mark Davy
Past Chair
La Crosse, WI

Eric West
Midland, TX

Aaron Thrush
Maumee, OH

Charlotte Anne Maddox
Vice Chair
Tampa, FL

Chris Richard
Vice Chair
Lafayette, LA

Karen Stelling
Vice Chair
Kansas City, MO



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