Francis J. Stanton, PE, F.NSPE

It is obvious that the man on the street likes a bargain, for example look at black Friday and cyber Monday activities. Everyone feels good about getting something of value at a great price. Engineers do more than hunt for bargains, they hunt for value. The engineer’s quest for value is why it has been said that “engineers can do for $1 what others can do for $2”.

Engineers have the ability to enhance value because Engineers value value. This is what I refer to as V2. There is no denying it. In the 2009 PE Magazine, NSPE reported “Engineers Hold the Secret to Wealth” and listed the following summary findings from Thomas Stanley’s research.

• Engineers are more successful than doctors and lawyers at transforming income into wealth.

• Overall engineers produced 22% more wealth per dollar of realized income.

• “They are less likely to favor expensive status-denoting products and brands than others. For many of them, substance, design, and endurance are more important factors in selecting a product, even a home, than showy style and status connotations.”

I disagree with one aspect of the report that stated engineers wealth building is due mainly to being frugal. I find that engineers value value (V2) over frugality.

What if there was a way to raise value to another power, say V3? I found in my career that becoming a Professional Engineer, raised my value by another power. Don’t misunderstand me, we are not better people or engineers than our non-registered colleges, but we have more value in the market because of the additional time and effort we invested into becoming a PE. This value may not be fully rewarded by an employer, but in the marketplace, it is present. However, a key is needed to extract the value of your PE in ways that help benefit you and your profession. If you were able to unlock the door to extract more value from being a PE, you would raise your value by another power V4.

I would argue that the key is not Facebook or LinkedIn or social media, but it is the professional society. Specifically, for the professional engineer it is the National, State and Chapter Societies of NSPE. As a member of NSPE I have the ability to reach out to PEs nationwide. I am comfortable calling any State President and discussing our engineering needs. The State President has in most cases been able to provide guidance and contact information or a local chapter contact, to fill our engineering needs and the results are positive.

In one case, our client needed an engineer in another state to perform some inspection work and factory witness testing. Our client was hesitant to award us the assignment because of our firm’s small size. I pointed out that as a member of NSPE we have access to 38,000 PEs throughout the country and that we had identified a PE in the location where the work was to be done. By identifying a qualified PE, our client would benefit from high quality work and minimal cost as there would be little travel expense. We were awarded the assignment because of our relationship with NSPE, State and Chapters.

In another case, our international client asked for our firm to provide civil, electrical and mechanical project support services for relocating a process plant from one state to another. The new location required a team of PEs licensed in the state. Our team consisted of a civil engineer who is a long time NSPE member, and we added an electrical engineer to the team after we spoke at a local chapter meeting. The success of the project has resulted in the international client to specifically request the design team for future projects.

The third example is similar; we were in need of a specialist in an area of chemical engineering. Through our relationships within our State and local Chapter, we were able to identify resources within the region that satisfied our project requirements. We found that we are able to identify PEs that met our project needs, who are capable, professional and conscience.

These are just a few examples how our society members can increase their value and raise the value of our profession to another power. This is the power of membership in NSPE, PSPE, and Chapters.

Membership in NSPE, PSPE and local Chapters provides us with opportunities to increase our value through opportunities to improve our technical and soft skills through our professional society involvement. A few of the opportunities that participation in NSPE provides are:

Public Speaking: Many engineers are introverted like me. As a result, we are reluctant to speak in public and take leadership roles. Our society provides engineers with opportunities to become better at speaking in public through participating at Chapter, Regional Meetings and State Conferences. The more we speak in public the better we get. As engineers we have to step outside ourselves and focus to be more efficient in our ability to present technical and non-technical arguments. Our investment in our communication skills raises our value to another power.

Education Opportunities: Engineers can obtain the required PDHs with their membership in a variety of ways. NSPE offers webinars and as many as 15 PDHs with membership. State societies like PSPE offer state wide regional education sessions in single and multi-day events. Chapter offer PDHs at monthly meetings, and membership allows you to attend other Chapters in other states as well as Chapters just next door. We also can provide our shared experience by presenting a project, technical subject, and ethical session and obtain 2x the PDHs. Through sharpening our skills at education sessions, we add value to ourselves and to our profession.

Legislative: We have the ability to meet our state legislatures at the PSPE Annual Legislative Day, plus met high level officials and company presidents who often participate in these events. We receive notifications when legislation is proposed that would curtain the ability of PEs to practice. Most of all, we have an organized voice to fight against those who want to be an engineer without getting their license to practice. We fight against unlicensed practice, and submit complaints to the registration Board when we uncover unlicensed practices. We comment on bills being proposed that affect the engineering profession. We gain value by participating in legislative activities and fostering good will with public officials.

A good engineer is technically competent, with the ability to communicate, and have political wisdom to bring projects to fruition. In summary, membership in your professional society, helps develop you into a professional. If you don’t participate, you end up leaving an opportunity and value on the table. To get the full value of your profession, you need to fully participate. Welcome aboard, and we hope to see you at the next meeting.