Stronger together than separate

April 2014 » Columns » Engineering Our Future
The level of study and professional requirements for an engineer is similar to that of a doctor or lawyer, yet we have always lagged in public perception. It takes a deliberate and significant effort to combat this and elevate our profession to the level of prestige it needs to be sustainable.
Chad Clinehens, P.E.

There is power in numbers and now is the time to bind together to create greater awareness of the civil engineering profession. In a time when the value of a basic college degree is eroding, we need to work hardto promote the importance of deep study and rewards of the engineering professions.

The premiere of the new Civil + Structural Engineer magazine marks a new and focused endeavor to provide the civil engineering profession greater resources across a wider variety of channels. It combines the resources of two former magazines, CE News and Structural Engineer, to become a more influential and visible resource for current and prospective engineers. We have many groups within civil engineering that possess unique identities, including the readers of these former publications, but we also share similarities and synergies that that need a single, louder voice in reaching more people.

As an engineer, I have always been interested in learning more, especially on the business side. There are few
resources teaching business acumen effectively in the context of the engineering and design professions. We
have a unique business model that requires a special body of knowledge. The need for easily accessible, valuable
information for civil engineers is essential as the body of knowledge for all professions is exploding. For engineering
to flourish going forward, engineers must continue to learn and grow above and beyond what the continuing
education requirements dictate. The new Civil + Structural Engineer magazine will be a blend of technical and business
knowledge that every engineer will benefit from. Along with the print and online version of the magazine, a wealth
of diverse resources to help engineers design and manage better will reside at www.cenews.com.

In addition to the better educational resources, it is time to get serious about improving the image of our profession
as well. This is another one of my passions. One way to fight commoditization of our services is to elevate the
stature of engineering and expand the roles that engineers can play, both professionally and in the community. We
have to break out of just being good engineers for our clients. Better access to information that can equip us to
serve in more roles and add more value to the community is the first step. It is also about glamorizing the profession
to attract K-12 students to engineering. It is a tough sell when comparing length and difficulty of competing
programs. We must be more deliberate about promoting the benefits and rewards of a career in engineering to
combat the investment requirements. A mentor once pointed out that there are no television shows about engineers
like there are about doctors and lawyers. So we miss out on that free press. He went on to say that we must do
everything we can to get out there and make ourselves visible if we are to continue to grow. His comments were in
the context of growing our company, but they also apply to the profession as a whole. The infrastructure needs in
America are immense, and we must fill the pipeline with eager, young engineers to keep our firms going and our
communities growing. America needs civil engineers now and more than ever for the future.

CHAD CLINEHENS, P.E. is ZweigWhite’s executive vice president. Contact him at cclinehens@zweigwhite.com.


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