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President's Message - June 24, 2014

06/24/14

It's soon to be summer (well, officially it arrived on Saturday) and a young, and not-so-young engineer’s fancy will turn towards…summer.  This will be my last President’s message to you all. My “reign of terror” has come to an end.  It has been my pleasure to serve as President of The Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia for the past two years. I feel that we have made some great strides but there are miles to go before we sleep.

On the local circuit, I will be ramping up the Professional Development programs of the ECP. We will look to do more tours and similar events. There are two “big splash” events I am pushing. The first is a “1day” symposium on the issue of Emergency Preparedness, Disaster Recovery and Resilience. We’ve got strong support from members of Philadelphia’s City Council and local universities and we are working on a cameo by a major government official. The date is October 8, 2014.

The second concerns the all to frequent exodus of talented young engineers from the profession after only year or two of practice.  Is the education and training of engineers not in synch with the realities of the profession?  Are firms not creating work environments that support the motivations of young entrants to the profession?   The ECP will look to convene a top flight panel from both the academic and professional sphere to compare notes, contrast perceptions and discuss solutions to the brain drain problem – and it might shed some light on best STEM growth practices too.

There is a short list of hot ‘ideas’ on the professional development front at the end of this message.

Key to the growth and longevity of the Club and the tradition of excellence and respect afforded to the profession is our engagement both within our profession, within the larger community and within the political sphere that sets the context for our practice.

Coming on June 25, 2014 is ASCE’s presentation of the PA Infrastructure Report Card.  The presentation will take place at Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. More information on the upcoming event can be found here. Come lend your support on this critical issue!

In Harrisburg, there are a couple of items on the agenda.

The first is HB 1447, a proposed amendment to the law governing the registration of professional engineers, land surveyors and geologists sponsored by Rep. Marc J. Gergeley.  The legislation seeks to amend the terms and titles under which engineers may call themselves.  Under current law on only licensed engineers can call themselves as “engineer”.  Under the Gergeley proposed legislation, the new, “protected” title be changed to “professional engineer”.  The bill also eliminates some other exemptions.  This change would make it easier for graduate engineers working for an industrial manufacturer (for example, Boeing) to be called an engineer but would reserve the term ‘Professional Engineer to those graduates of accredited engineering programs and holding a license to practice engineering in the Commonwealth.

The following set of bills introduced by Representative Brian Sims address the topic of Manufacturing, Sustainability and High-Performance Buildings.  They are summarized below:

Legislation #1
The first piece of legislation establishes the High-Performance Buildings Tax Credit, HB 2256.  The proposal provides a base tax credit of $35,000 to residential and commercial owners or tenants for either the construction of a green building or the rehabilitation of a non-green building into a green building.  Additional tax credits are offered based on the size of the building and level of performance achieved.  The total cost of the tax credit shall not exceed $10 million per year.   

Legislation #2
The second piece of legislation establishes the Energy Star Rated Product Manufacturing Tax Credit, HB 2257.  The proposal enables manufactures of Energy Star Rated Products to apply for a tax credit against the capital, operation, and maintenance costs associated with manufacturing Energy Star Products.  The tax credit cannot exceed 20 percent of those costs per applicant and the total cost of the credit shall not exceed $10 million per year.  

Legislation #3
The third piece of legislation establishes the Energy Star Rated Glass or Window Technologies Tax Credit, HB 2259.  The proposal enables manufactures of energy-efficient glass technologies to apply for a tax credit against the capital, operation, and maintenance costs associated with the manufacturing of Energy Star Rated Glass or Window Technologies. The total cost of the tax credit shall not exceed $10 million per year.

Legislation #4
The final piece of legislation establishes the Green Roof Tax Credit, HB 2261.  The proposal provides a tax credit to individuals and businesses building and maintaining a green roof; defined as an addition to a roof that supports living vegetation and includes a synthetic, high-quality waterproof membrane, drainage layer, soil layer, and lightweight medium plants.  Eligible applicants qualify for a tax credit equal to 25 percent of all costs initially incurred to construct the green roof; as well as, maintenance costs incurred, up to a maximum $100,000 annually, for six years.  

These are all House companion legislation to Senator Matt Smith’s SBs 221, 238, 239, and 240.

These are the types of issues and initiatives which are key to the longevity and success of the engineering profession and The Engineers Club of Philadelphia. We invite you to  find your passion within the industry and help propel the profession forward.

Here are a couple of the “hot items” on the PD agenda…

 Innovation Exchange Forum  – Invite the area “big” universitycollege engineering programs  to select their 2 or 3 best research projects to present in EFGP “stand and deliver” format to the audience which would include engineering ech-driven companies, venture fund investors, angel investors and government economic development agencies.

 Engineers Club of Philadelphia Varsity “Letter” jackets  – create a “letter man” jacket (or just the “letter” to be sown on an existing jacket) for HS graduates who are going into engineering in college and have a GPA of 3.5(?)  It would be a “varsity letter” jacket akin to those given to varsity athletes in High School. We should applaud academics as much as we applaud athletics.  

 Order of the Engineer  – conduct the Order of the Engineer Induction for the graduating engineering classes at Drexel, Rowan, Villanova, UPenn, Temple and Widener. Offer the first year of membership to the ECP to the Inductees for free. 

 To Engineer is Human  – Set up a competition using multi-discipline teams to engage or address some significant area problem or challenge (i.e. Revitalization of Delaware Waterfront, development of Waste to Energy Plant; etc).  Teams should NOT all come from the same firm and the competition should be targeted towards younger engineers. Arrange for a cash prize (or equivalent) for the winners. Bonus points for inclusion of high school students on the team.

E. Mitchell Swann, PE, LEED AP
President