David Rykard, PE
During the month of July, several SCSPE members attended the NSPE annual convention in Seattle. Adam Jones, Executive Director, Jim Justus, National Delegate for South Carolina, Carlos Gittens, State Director from Spartanburg, and I were there. The experience showed me that our state organization operates on a par with the national society, and I’m very proud of that. We can all take pride in knowing that SCSPE is maintained and operated with a high level of professionalism.
At the national convention, some concern was expressed for the future of the Society. We are experiencing declining membership nation-wide, and there’s concern that we are not relevant to upcoming generations of young engineers. I think the key to the future of the Society is in encouraging more recent graduates to become registered engineers, and in ensuring the Society continues to work to protect the interests of the engineering profession.
The Society of Professional Engineers will be relevant to PEs if we provide value to them. My local chapter provides opportunities for networking with other engineers, and it provides opportunities to earn PDH credits through technical presentations and plant tours. Our state Society provides opportunities to earn PDH credits, and it provides advocacy and political lobbying at the state level. I believe our national Society should provide advocacy and lobbying at the national level. When licensed engineers see the organization is working and getting results, they will join and participate.
Joe Jones, past Executive Director, is a registered lobbyist who represents SCSPE in the SC State Legislature. Joe asked us to go with him to meet and talk with our legislators in what he calls “Engineer in the State House”. Any SCSPE member can participate in this activity, not just members of the Board. During my year as President I will ask many of you to do just that.
I know that political activity is not something many engineers want to get involved with. Political apathy is one of our major specialties. However, our profession is regulated by legislation and directly affected by other legislation, such as infrastructure funding bills. It’s a good idea to see how that’s done and take part in the process. We don’t need to run for a seat in the legislature, but we should at least go there and communicate our wishes and concerns to our representatives. As I said, I will ask many of you to help with that effort this year.
As Vice President last year, I tried to attend at least one meeting of each of our local chapters. I made it to all of them except Aiken. As president this year, I plan to continue that, with special emphasis on making it to Aiken. When I attend your meetings, I want to use the opportunity to keep you informed of activities we’re engaged in at the state level and to hear your ideas and concerns. I look forward to seeing all of you.
I have one piece of news that’s pleasant to pass on. For several years our Spartanburg chapter has been inactive. We now have several people, led by Carlos Gittens, working to revive that chapter. I want to offer special thanks to Carlos for the effort he’s putting into this. We expect to start having chapter meetings soon, and I especially anticipate attending them.
We’re going to have a good year this year. I look forward to meeting all of you and discussing your ideas and concerns. In the meantime, if there’s anything I can help you with please let me know or touch base with Adam Jones, SCSPE Executive Director, [email protected]