NSPE's Gateway to Private Practice October 2012 

The True Value of Networking
Dawn Edgell, P.E.

Many times when trying to explain the benefits of NSPE, the term “networking” is mentioned, but can you actually put a tangible value to this benefit? Well I can say that I have. In these last few years, we have all known someone who has lost their job or changed careers due to the poor economic conditions, and one of the favorite lines used to console people is “just reach out to your network to see what your options are”–I know I too have said this many times.

Well unfortunately, just last month I too was a victim of corporate downsizing and joined the ranks searching for my next job. It was finally time for me to put my network and skills to use to ‘see what my options were’.

Within days, even as the denial and anger of my new reality set in, the network of people I know through NSPE, ISPE and PEPP reached out to provide support and assistance. Whether that support came in the form of a potential job lead, a professional reference, or just as importantly a shoulder of support, the network of people around me allowed me to persevere through such an unexpected and rough experience.

Through the skills and resources I have developed within NSPE and the network of those around me, I have been able to start the next chapter of my career just 3 weeks after the last one ended. While that felt like an eternity from the inside, I understand how quick that turnaround truly was. And I know it wouldn’t have happened if not for the skills I have learned and the people I have met along the way.

So if anyone is to ask if networking is a tangible benefit of being involved with NSPE/ISPE and PEPP, I have a very simple answer–ABSOLUTELY!

Professional Liability/Risk Management: Communication Backup and Restoration Planning
Immediate and reliable communication is essential to any business operation. A communication system failure can be a disaster in itself, cutting off vital business activities. In an emergency situation, communication is not only needed to continue firm functions, but often to preserve the well-being of a firm’s most vital assets—its employees. In a firm’s contingency plan, accommodations should be made for all possible circumstances, from a temporary or short-term disruption to a total communication systems failure. An emergency communication plan providing alternative systems not only allows a firm to keep in contact with clients and colleagues, but is needed to report emergencies, warn personnel of the danger, keep families and off-duty employees informed about events, and coordinate response actions.

In establishing a plan for emergency communication, a firm must assess functions that might have to be performed during an emergency as well as those functions necessary for the continuation of the professional practice. The emergency plan must accommodate the communication systems needed for support.

  • Consider the everyday functions performed by your office and the communication support systems for both voice and data;
  • Consider the business impact if your communication systems were inoperable;
  • Prioritize all facility communication systems;
  • Determine what should be restored first in an emergency;
  • Establish procedures for restoring communication systems, such as asking your communication vendors about their emergency response capabilities; and
  • Determine needs for backup systems for each business function.

Do not ignore the necessity of family communication. In an emergency affecting a community, personnel will need to contact their families. When the situation is one of a crisis affecting the office, your firm’s plans should include an accountability and assessment communication procedure with employees’ families. Encourage employees to consider how they would communicate with their families in case they are separated from one another or injured during an emergency. Employers should arrange for an out-of-town contact for all family members to call in an emergency. Also, a place should be designated for employees to meet family members in case they cannot get home during an emergency.

Basic to the survival of a firm is establishing a continuity plan for an alternate work site during an emergency. In addition to housing staff and an accessible set of records, the alternative work site needs to have sufficient communication systems and equipment to allow you to continue to operate your practice.

© 2012, Victor O. Schinnerer & Co. Inc. 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 & Co. Inc. is managing underwriter for the Schinnerer and CNA Professional Liability Insurance Program, commended by NSPE/PEPP since 1957.
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Happenings on the Hill

Final Drilling Safety Rule Requires Extensive PE Oversight   

NSPE achieved a victory when the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a final rule that makes permanent the additional safety measures authorized in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill. The rule requires professional engineers to be more involved in the design and certification of offshore oil wells. NSPE General Counsel Arthur Schwartz commented before the Chemical Safety Board in 2010 that professional engineers should supervise all engineering design, operations, and maintenance of offshore oil wells.
    Specifically, the new rule stipulates that:

  • PEs must be involved in the well casing and cementing design process;
  • PEs must certify that well casings and cementing are appropriate for expected wellbore conditions;
  • PEs must certify well abandonment designs and procedures; and
  • PEs must certify that well designs include two independent barriers in the center wellbore and all annuli.

The rule also requires independent third parties to conduct blowout preventer inspections. These third parties must be licensed professional engineers, professional engineering firms, or technical classification societies. [ return to top ]

NSPE Fall 2012 Web Seminar Line Up

As NSPE's Fall webinar season wraps up, don't miss out on our live online education opportunities. Each session is sold per connection, allowing your colleagues to join you. These sessions offer outstanding value. Don't hesitate to earn your PDHs, sign up for one of our online sessions now!

Engineering Ethics: Business Issues
November 28, 2012, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1 PDH

This session will examine a variety of issues including employment practices, relations with clients, use and preparation of contract documents and political contributions, and other issues. Participants will have the opportunity to offer comments, pose questions and participate in interactive polling surveys.

Ethics and Sustainable Development

November 29, 2012, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1 PDH

Sustainable development involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social equity. In this webinar, Carlos Bertha will unpack what this means from a moral perspective. Is it possible for an engineering venture to remain profitable and still be environmentally and socially responsible? Is it ethical for such a venture not to expand its “bottom line” this way? Carlos will use a variety of examples to show that sometimes the problem isn’t as simple as it sounds. As a special case, he will discuss how his experiences as a resident engineer in Afghanistan shaped his perspective on sustainable development.

EJCDC Construction Contract Documents: Key Clauses and New Approaches

December 5, 2012, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1 PDH

The webinar will focus on several key subjects in EJCDC C-700, Standard General Conditions for the Construction Contract, with an emphasis on previewing provisions that are being revised in the new edition of C-700 to be published in early 2013. Topics include baseline geotechnical conditions; differing site conditions; hazardous environmental conditions; contract changes; project-level resolution of disputes and claims; builder’s risk and liability insurance requirements; electronic transmittals of contract information; and substitutions and “or-equals.”

Ethics and Risk Management: When “Trust Me” Isn’t Enough

December 13, 2012, 12:30–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.), 1 PDH

In recent news, we’ve read about scandals, cover-ups, and ethical breaches. Ethical challenges and business risk are everywhere and if you are not careful, it only takes one major occurrence to put you out of business.

Integrity and risk management are business issues and your decisions and actions will determine your long-term financial success. Learn about the different types of enterprise risk and how to plan accordingly.

  • How to build trust using the Integrity Chain;
  • Determine the potential business and project risks that exist;
  • Implement proven project management methods for mitigating project risk; and
  • Understand the role of risk management in strategic planning.

These are just some of the courses NSPE has to offer. For full course listings, visit our Web site. [ return to top ]

Become a 2013 PEPP Sustaining Firm

Now through October 31, get 10% off the price of becoming a 2013 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 designation and enhance the image of the PE in private practice.

As a 2013 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 approximately 40,000) and in PEPP Talk, the monthly electronic newsletter you're reading that is 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 10/31/12).

  • 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 2013 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. [ return to top ]


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Join your colleagues and competitors.
List your firm on the NSPE Web site
and link more business
to your future.   



PEPP 2012-13
Executive Board

Dawn Edgell (Chair)
Aurora, IL

Eric L West
Midland, TX

Andrea N Martinez-Graves
Tampa, FL

Kevin C Skibiski
Ozark, MO

Amy Barrett
Evansville, IN

Terrance N Glunt
Boca Raton, FL

Chris K Richard (Vice Chair)
Lafayette, LA



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