Susan K. Sprague, PE, CCS

Susan K. Sprague, PE, CCS
PSPE President 2013-14
My term as PSPE President has been fun and rewarding. When I started on the PSPE Executive committee in the fall of 2007, Harve Hnatiuk, PE had just completed his term as President of PSPE. Now that I am finishing my term as PSPE president, Harve is beginning his term as NSPE president.
I was privileged to be at Harve’s installation as NSPE president in Washington DC at the NSPE Annual meeting and conference. The conference was well attended and I met many other state leaders and talked with the national leadership team. PSPE counted John Wanner as a presenter and had 9 of our members in attendance over 3 days. This was my second NSPE conference and I recognized many folks from last year. It’s a cool feeling to attend a national event and know 15 people as soon as you walk in.
Another highlight of the conference was supporting Barry Isett, PE from the Lehigh Valley as he received the NSPE Distinguished Service Award (and then having dinner with him and his wife at Bobby Vans). PSPE is fortunate to count Harve and Barry as our members and we appreciate them for all they do to make the profession of engineering better.
PSPE conference in September 2014 provided many opportunities for increasing technical knowledge and earning PDH credits. We recognized colleagues and chapters for their outstanding achievements over the past year. We inducted engineers into the Order of the Engineer during a solemn ceremony.
At our June Board meeting, the PSPE Board of Directors approved the Membership committee’s priorities and implementation plans to address our membership retention and recruitment issue. The plan focuses on improving communications with members and potential members, varying communication frequency, using all types of delivery methods and emphasizing the value of membership through coordinated messages. This plan was budgeted in January and we have finalized the details. Thank you to the committee for its hard work over many conference calls to develop the plan and begin implementation.
One of the most important and unique benefits of NSPE is the advocacy for, and protection of the professional engineer’s license. We cannot take our license for granted and must always try to educate the public and lawmakers about what licensure means. Every year, more groups want to establish certifications that “are as good as” licensure or groups that want to be added to the PE PLS and PG Registration Act as able to practice engineering. PSPE employs Wanner Associates to help us monitor legislation introduced in PA that affects PE’s and to notify us of such issues. We the members then have to get involved in the fights to protect our license, prevent the misappropriation of the designation and stop the practice of engineering by unqualified persons. NSPE is the “fighting-arm of the engineering profession” (David Steinman, PE, NSPE president 1934).
For those of you who have certifications, the American Association of Engineering Societies published a white paper recently describing the difference between licensure and certification related to engineering. My summary of the article is as follows: Licensure is granted by government agencies with the purpose to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public; Licensure is required to practice a profession; Certifications are granted by non-government agencies to recognize specialized knowledge; Certification is voluntary and not required to engage in a given occupation; Both can require continuing education requirements to maintain. Certifications are valuable tools but, as we know, do not take the place of licensure. A PE can perform the same work without certification due to our obligation to lifelong learning and continuing professional development (with or without state PDH requirements).
Speaking of protecting the PE license, don’t forget to contact your reps and tell them why they should support the passage of HB1447! In addition to updating several definitions and modernizing the Act, the legislation is targeting the removal of PA’s industrial exemption. A recent article in NSPE’s PE magazine highlighted this issue and other states are considering similar action.
The public hearing on HB 1447 is scheduled for October 8, 2014.
I have enjoyed serving as your President. I am enthusiastic about NSPE’s leadership and how PSPE will benefit from the Road to Relevance and NSPE’s strategic plan. I look forward to being a past president and assisting incoming president Eric Tappert, PE and future presidents to improve the profession.