// NATIONAL SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS
The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE.org) was founded in 1934 as a non-profit advocacy group, promoting the professional engineering license (PE) and its aim to promote the safety and well being of the public in the context of technological advances and engineering ethics.
I served as as NSPE-California State President from July 2017 to June 2019. I’m a past Director of the NSPE National Board of Directors where I worked on career development initiatives for emerging professionals. Previously I also served as the Industry Director for the Connecticut Society of Professional Engineers and as Past Chair of the Professional Engineers in Industry (PEI) interest group. I was part of a small splinter group that founded NSPE NextGen, created to promote EIT and PE Licensure to emerging professionals.
(Re-post from the NSPE California e-Newsletter, where I filed my last piece as State President in July 2019).
// NSPE-CALIFORNIA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE: The Highest Law
The Southland Mall sits within view of the highway in the San Francisco suburb of Hayward. In keeping up with the disruptions going on in the retail industry, Southland has tested everything from changing its mix of stores to a complete rebranding and modernization of its structure and interiors.
It was a weeknight evening when I parked my car underneath the Southland Mall’s new sign. It had been rebranded with a new scripty typeface that looked like the signature dashed off at the end of a thank you card.
I had been in the midst of the Bay Area’s infamous traffic when I saw that I had a missed call from Ken Discenza who had been serving on the board of NSPE-California. The Southland exit was the closest escape route off the highway where I could pause and return his call. He and then NSPE-California Executive Director Marti Kramer had been working with me on the Society’s virtual chapter and we were in the midst of restructuring some of the state’s activities so I knew it would be an important conversation. But Ken had other ideas. NSPE-California was under a serious transformation, Ken said, and they were looking for an experienced NSPE member to take over as President. They wanted me to consider taking the role.
At the time, I had already been busy on a few NSPE national task forces and had no shortage of to-do list items that I was trying to finish up. Perhaps it was a moment of weakness at the end of a long work day or maybe it was the drone of the interstate traffic, but I said yes. More likely, it was my desire to continue working alongside a passionate team that collectively advocated for the safety and well-being of the public with a direct concern over the impact of licensure to California engineers.
Today, a little more than two years later, I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished together. Between an ever shifting membership landscape across technical professional organizations like NSPE, a retiring Executive Director, a visual and structural transformation of California and of NSPE at the national level, it’s been two years of delightful, productive work.
We’ve done so much and we still have so much more to do. As we head into the start of NSPE’s new fiscal year, NSPE-California has committed to a new action plan centered on member value: the reason why any California Engineer joins and stays a part of NSPE-California. With initiatives such as cross-functional collaborations with sibling societies such as the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET), partnering with the State of California on its technical education initiatives in primary and secondary schools, and the development of a forum centered on women in engineering in California, NSPE-California has a very bold future ahead.
And for the 2019 – 2021 term, you have a talented leadership team serving you throughout California to make it all happen. For our new officer installation ceremony, we enhanced our traditional pass-the-gavel ceremony by gifting the incoming President with their own actual gavel. On it is inscribed their name and this quote from famed Roman Orator, Cicero: salus populi suprema lex esto or “The health and welfare of the people should be the supreme law.” It’s an incantation worthy of welcoming in the new California leadership. I couldn’t be prouder of this incoming leadership team with Mehdi Khalili as our President and the mark he and the team will make on California and on NSPE as a whole.
Thank you so much for the privilege of serving you these past two years as NSPE-California State President. That day I parked underneath the flashing Southland Mall sign was the best experience rush-hour traffic has ever given me.
And the lights are still glittering.
// LAST BOARD MEETING AS CALIFORNIA STATE PRESIDENT - JUNE 2019
// NSPE-California Strategic Planning in Venice Beach (March 2019)
As difficult as it is to help run a state society that spans the 800 mile north to south range of California, the times the leadership team does get to meet up face to face is always a delightful treat. Being a joint meeting of NSPE-California and our sister subsidiary that runs the state’s MATHCOUNTS competition for local high schools, we got to cover the pipeline of engineers into the profession, from aspiring student to practicing licensed professional.
As I had begun winding down my term as NSPE-California state president, this workshop became the perfect opportunity to do some succession planning and lay out the direction of the state over the next five years. And meeting in sunny Venice Beach certainly helped with the mood as well.
// NSPE Annual Professional Engineers Conference (#PECON18) - Las Vegas (July 2018)
Heading into the second half of my term as NSPE California State President, I got the chance to onboard our amazing new Executive Director Jeanne Marie Tokunaga and our Vice-Chair, Mehdi Khalili, PE. Every year, NSPE holds its annual conference, PECON and there couldn’t have been a more exciting place to welcome in a new team than amidst the neon buzz of Las Vegas.
// STARTING POINTS
It was very possibly at this Peet’s Coffee in Harvard Square where I fist became a member of NSPE. I had just moved to New England and through searches on engineering ethics and professional engineering licensure, I found out about the Connecticut State Society of Professional Engineers, that state’s local chapter of NSPE.
I was visiting friends in Boston and had the first evening to myself when I arrived. I navigated the snowy icy sidewalks of Cambridge and camped out for an hour or so at this Peet’s as I thought through my plans for the week. Reading more about the Connecticut Society and being interesting in learning how I could help, I signed up as a member over the Peet’s wifi. I’ve been continuing on at my caffeinated best ever since that night.
// WHAT’S A PE?
Just as one would expect a doctor or lawyer to also be licensed in their field of practice in their respective states, professional engineering licensure (or just “PE”) exists in all 50 states in the US to perform work that directly impacts public safety. Most common are PEs in civil and structural engineering that handle construction and public works projects, but PEs can be found across most any discipline.