NSPE 2017-18 Year in Review

NSPE’s Executive Director Mark Golden, FASAE, CAE shared his Yearly Review this month with NSPE:

Read the Year in Review to learn more about advocacy wins, growing federal presence,work on key topics, and much more.

NSPE Annual meeting, July 18–22, 2018 in Las Vegas marked the end of one very eventful program (and fiscal) year, and the start of a new one, with new officers and directors elected and plans in place to pick up right where prior leadership left off. Highlighting some of the progress your society has made, as reported to the membership in Las Vegas at the House of Delegates General Assembly:
The 2017–18 year saw:
• Continuation and even acceleration of the incidents of threats to licensure emerging in state legislatures and executive branches (and continued success by national and its state partners in fighting them off);
• The Committee on Policy and Advocacy completing (and the House of Delegates approving) a total update and refresh of NSPE Professional Policies and Position Statements;
• The Future of Professional Engineering Task Force presenting its final report to an overflow crowd at the convention’s closing session; and
• NSPE continuing its active role advocating for PE involvement in emerging technologies, in particular autonomous vehicles.
All in all, it was a very busy year for NSPE and its strong network of state societies and local chapters.  Throughout 2017–2018, the Society kept the professional engineer front-and-center as it championed the PE license, stood as the ethical guide to the profession, powered professional advancement, and united the PE community.

In terms of membership engagement and utilization of NSPE services, 2017–18 saw:
• A 160% increase in downloads of state-by-state licensing rule reports by members from the NSPE website;
• A 25% increase in the number of new threads created by members in the online Open Forum and a 51% increase in the number of posts;
• NSPE now has 38 active online communities (specific to a committee, task force or other society component) and these see 3,000 to 3,600 logins per quarter;
• Increases in the volume of NSPE mentions and activities on all of the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram) from 8% to 197%;
• A 437% increase in the number of members participating in live webinars; and
• A 31% increase in utilization of NSPE “15 Free PDHs.”
Looking beyond core NSPE member services:
• NSPE completed conversion from paper-and-pencil to computer-based testing for NICET certifications and achieved an 8% increase in NICET testing revenues;
• NSPE increased non-dues revenue from affinity program sales by 14%; and
• Increased advertising and sponsorship sales by 19%. [Read more…]

New Firestop Special Inspection Standards


Firestopping is a critical area of fire protection in commercial buildings to limit the spread of building fires.  This is the reason NYC Department of Buildings changed their new 2014 code to require firestop special inspections utilizing the ASTM firestop inspection standards for all buildings.  According to these standards, the inspector shall provide visual and/or destructive testing for a percentage of the firestop systems.  The New ASTM firestop inspection standards have proven to be an excellent standard to protect the liability of the special inspection agency and general contractors. To reduce your liability these standards need to be adhered to, so NYSSPE has supported firestop special inspection training for its membership.

Firestop Special Inspection Requirement:

Firestopping, is becoming more and more of a hot button item these days.  Why is that? Because of its extreme importance in fire resistive floors and walls.  Firestopping is the use of materials for building; such as ducts, pipes, etc. that prevent flames, heat and gases from spreading through penetrations of ceilings, walls and floors to restore its full fire rating. Not only do many buildings not have the proper firestop systems installed, but we are finding that it is inexperienced workers from each trade installing the firestop systems, leaving their walls, joints, ceilings, etc. exposed and at great risk.  When a building is at risk, people’s lives are at risk of injury and fatality, that could lead to litigation for your company.  To reduce this liability the NYC Department of Buildings has recently required firestop special inspections according to the new ASTM firestop inspection standards. 

Review Some of the Highlights of the New ASTM Firestop Inspection Standard: 

You may be aware that the International Building Code used in the US has included new firestop inspection standards since the 2012 codes were adopted.  These standards were put in place to help increase the efficiency of firestop systems and inspections.  The ASTM firestop inspection standards have been also adopted into the 2014 NYC codes. The two ASTM Standards are E-2174 (Penetrations) and   E-2393 (Joints) that are in place for special inspectors to adhere to.    These two standards are similar and important to understand, starting with Conflicts of Interest.  The firestop inspector needs to be completely independent of and divested from the installer, contractor, manufacturer, or supplier.   [Read more…]

2018 Incoming President Message from James J. Kuhn, PE.

Thank you for electing me to the position of President of NYSSPE. My journey began with the NYSSPE in 2002. Jennifer Miller invited me to a business card exchange event, and I became a member.  I recognized that being part of the NYSSPE gave me and fellow members the opportunity to learn important business skills, as well as interact with experienced licensed professional engineers. Over time, I got more and more involved with the leadership of the organization, thanks to Wally Waidelich and Jim Galarneau.

I remember a day on the golf course with my father, when someone asked me what I did for a living. I said I was an engineer, and my dad was quick to correct me.  He said “No, you are a professional engineer”. That’s the moment when I realized the standing and recognition of what PE meant to others.

While being involved in the NYSSPE for the past 16 years, I have met many dedicated PE’s and Presidents of this organization. It is with gratitude and respect that I acknowledge Laura Pellizzi, PE, who finishes her term as the organization’s first 2-year term President.

What I’ve learned about Laura is that she’s extremely driven, determined, persistent, and organized. She has accomplished a lot during her term, including recognizing and affecting change in management, increasing activity on a National level, helping to update the Constitution and By-laws, and getting an accurate financial picture. She did a fantastic job getting the operations in order, and leading Executive Committee, Administration, and Board meetings. Laura has unquestionably had the Society’s interest and perpetuation as a top priority. And she did all this as a “volunteer”! Thank you, Laura.

I am very pleased to be working with a wonderfully dedicated staff in Jen Miller, Kathryn Viggiani, and Rachel Pieniazek.  I thank each of them for their hard work and professionalism put forth each day.  In addition to these three terrific ladies that make up the “office” (near and far), we have Mark Kriss, who supports our activities on various fronts. We also have well-rounded Executive and Administrative committees. With everyone’s efforts, we will continue the path that our past presidents and leaders took, while paving new paths with our current and future leaders, and members on the National, State, and Chapter levels.

As we look ahead to the next two years, we need to adapt and evolve while staying true to our mission of protecting the license. Times are changing, and I encourage our members to be part of this change. Stay tuned as we work to develop the next set of initiatives.  Your interaction and ideas are welcome.

I look forward to the next two years.  Thank you.




James J. Kuhn, PE
NYSSPE President

Note: NYSSPE facilitates posting on this blog, but the views and accounts expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not the views or accounts of NYSSPE, its officers or directors whose views and accounts may or may not be similar or identical. NYSSPE, its officers and directors do not express any opinion regarding any product or service by virtue of reference to such product or service in this blog.


Engineering Ethics: How to Protect Your Engineering License

By Lewis Tesser and Randall Tesser

Bad things happen to good engineers.  Each year, some well-intentioned professional engineers cross over the misconduct threshold, and many, many more are the subject of disciplinary investigations even though they have not committed an ethical violation.  Therefore, it is worth discussing the factors triggering disciplinary investigations and the circumstances frequently attending disciplinary violations.  Whether or not misconduct has been committed, avoiding even the appearance of ethical pitfalls will save you time, money and stress, keep your clients satisfied, and safeguard your license.

Communication, Communication, Communication

In any profession, the vast majority of complaints emanate from unsatisfied clients.[1] The remedy is apparent; keep the customer satisfied. The best way to do this is to maintain good communication. Often, timely and honest communication is the single easiest and greatest step that any professional can take to reduce the likelihood of receiving complaints. What is involved?

Promptly return phone calls and e-mails. Whether you are working directly for a client, are working through a contractor or are part of an organization, whoever your point person is, keep them informed. When clients do not hear from you—even if you are hard at work—they may believe that their project is not important to you. Of course, you do not have to respond to each and every call ten times a day. The key is to communicate. Establish a policy regarding response time, and stick to it. If you are unable to respond, make sure to explain the reason for the unavailability and make a realistic promise as to when the call will be returned.

Document your work. Keep contemporaneous notes of relevant conversations, important events, time devoted and expenses incurred. Maintain records in a way that you can easily retrieve them. With good recordkeeping, you can show your clients all the hard work that you put into their projects. This will be especially useful if a bill is higher than usual.

Speaking of bills, clients should never be surprised. You may feel awkward having spent more time than expected on a project. That is the time to communicate with the client (or your company). Let them know ahead of time if you expect a bill to be high, and explain why the bill is higher than usual (using your well documented records). Consider sending out your bills frequently and regularly so they are not stuck with one big number at the end.

Be Wary of Ethical Grey Areas

            While being a licensed professional involves certain privileges, it also limits the scope of your practice. There are certain activities that are prohibited for professional engineers to take part in, either because they are not the work of a professional engineer, or because they pose a conflict of interest. For example, in some states an engineer may not work for, or with, the government while they are being regulated as a professional. In addition, professional engineers often may not perform work where they have an undisclosed financial interest in a project.[2]

On that note, be aware of local laws and regulations. Different states, counties and municipalities impose different requirements on the practice of engineering. Regardless of where your license was issued, violating local rules and regulations can put your license in jeopardy. A little bit of research goes a long way when working in new or unfamiliar localities. [Read more…]

Legislative Update: Indemnification Passed in Assembly


A.8293A /S.6622A yesterday passed the Assembly, giving it two-house passage. The bill, which passed the Senate last week, protects design professionals from broad form indemnity demands in public works contracts on both the state and local levels.  These indemnity provisions shift responsibility for damages from the government or third parties (who were at fault) to PEs and other design professionals.  In short, when something goes wrong on a project, though no fault of the design professional, the law should not permit contract terms to shift responsibility to the design professional or the professional design firm. This is precisely what this legislation prohibits.

To read NYSSPE’s entire memorandum in support CLICK HERE.

We extend a huge thank you to our members who have reached out to their legislators on this priority issue.  We would further like to thank other design professional organizations which have joined in the effort.  Governor Cuomo’s approval of this measure, now the focus of our attention, is the next step needed to put this law in place.

Note: NYSSPE facilitates posting on this blog, but the views and accounts expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not the views or accounts of NYSSPE, its officers or directors whose views and accounts may or may not be similar or identical. NYSSPE, its officers and directors do not express any opinion regarding any product or service by virtue of reference to such product or service in this blog.

NYSSPE 2018 Annual Conference Recap

The New York State Society of Professional Engineers held their annual conference in Saratoga Springs, NY June 15th and 16th.  The conference was well attended by over 100 engineers and included a variety of learning sessions cover trending topics such as Bio-Engineering, Energy Code, Ethics and Large Diameter Infrastructure needs.  NYSSPE had the pleasure of welcoming Kodi Verhalen, P.E., Esq., F.NSPE; NSPE Immediate Past President who attended conference and Board Meetings.

On Friday evening NYSSPE hosted the Annual Awards and Installation Dinner, during which James Kuhn, P.E. was inducted as the 2018-2020 NYSSPE President.  The awards dinner highlighted NYSSPE award winners that have impacted the industry through a multitude of disciplines and recognized the high honor of Rockland Chapter’s Andrew Yarmus, P.E., F.NSPE who was recently chosen for NSPE Fellow Member and Capital District Chapter’s Nikhil Bodhankar, P.E. who was awarded both NSPE & NYSSPE’s 2018 Young Engineer of the Year.  The project of the year was awarded to PE’s in Construction (PEC) Project of the Year:  The Moynihan Train Hall and Farley Building Redevelopment – Phase 1– New West End.   [Read more…]

Legislative News: Suffolk Septic System Update

Mark Kriss, Esq, NYSSPE’s Legislative Counsel updated NYSSPE members at the Annual Conference meeting this past weekend on the Suffolk Septic System Plan.  He reported that currently we are hopeful that the bill will not be passed in the Assembly, which along with the Senate is expected to recess this week and not return until after the November 2018 elections.  All 213 state senators and members of the assembly, along with the Governor, are up for election and are focused on campaigning.

Currently the Suffolk County Division of Health Services (SCDHS) requires that a septic system for single family homes be designed by a design professional.  According to SCDHS protocols both a standard septic system and an Innovative/Alternative (IA) system, referred to as “nitrogen-reducing sewage disposal system” in the legislation must be designed by a “design professional”.

For standard septic systems, the SCDHS presently accepts plans prepared by a professional engineer or a land surveyor.  It is asserted by SCDHS that the county accepts plans from a land surveyor because in the County’s view the design of these systems is prescriptive based on their standards and requires little or no engineering.  In contrast, for an I/A system, the SCDHS requires plans to be prepared by a design professional (PE or RA).  The agency also require that the engineers be certified by the manufacturers of the system they are specifying so they understand the process design and installation requirements of the systems.   [Read more…]

NYSSPE Members Benefit with New York/National Long-Term Care Brokers

As a member of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers you have access to a valuable benefit program. NYSSPE  have partnered with New York/National Long-Term Care Brokers (NYLTCB) to offer Long-Term Care Insurance with discounted premiums. The program is subject to medical underwriting and insurability is not guaranteed.

Reasons people plan ahead for Long-Term Care:
• To protect retirement assets and pension income;
• To prevent Medicaid spend down (impoverishment);
• To ensure options for health care; and
• To avoid being a burden to loved ones.
As a NYSSPE member, this offering is made available to you and your eligible family members with a permanent discount, not available to the general public. Eligible family members include spouses/domestic partners, adult children and parents/parents-in-law.

Members have access to a dedicated Long-Term Care planning specialist to help determine if coverage is appropriate for you, and compare policies from different insurance companies to ensure the best coverage at the most competitive premium.

For more information please call NYLTCB to free at (800) 695-8224 Ext 137 or CLICK HERE

Capital District Chapter’s Nikhil Bodhankar, P.E. is named NSPE 2018 Young Engineer of the Year

NYSSPE is pleased to announce that Nikhil Bodhankar, P.E. has been awarded the very prestigious National Society of Professional Engineers 2018 Young Engineer of the Year Award.

Nikhil Bodhankar, P.E. is a senior electrical engineer, associate principal and shareholder at SMRT Architects and Engineers in Latham, New York.  He is a member of the Capital District Chapter and currently resides in Niskayuna, NY.   Nik has more than a decade of experience in specialized scientific research and practice in electrical engineering. His designs have been applied in a variety of public and private sector fields, including research institutions, education, utilities, transportation, health care, and renewable energy. Nik leads the Electrical Engineering Department of SMRT’s New York office.

He has worked closely with clients including the GE-Global Research Center, where he made substantial contributions to the complex areas of safety electrical circuits, explosion-proof environment electrical design, machine automation, programming variable frequency drives, and developing control logic for some of the world’s more challenging research experiments. His clients have also included Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, GlobalFoundries, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the New York State Office of General Services. [Read more…]

Andrew Yarmus, P.E. is named in NSPE Fellows Class of 2018

NSPE has named nine professional engineers to its 2018 class of Fellow members. The Fellow membership grade honors active NSPE members who have demonstrated exemplary and devoted service to their profession, the Society, and their community. Requirements for the designation include holding at least one elected office at any level and active involvement at the national level.

NSPE state and territorial societies can nominate Fellows, as can NSPE interest groups, chartered affinity groups, and the Board of Directors.

Congratulations Andrew Yarmus, P.E. and the fellows Class of 2018!  

Andrew R. Yarmus, P.E is a licensed Professional Engineer and a New York State Certified Code Enforcement Official. He is also a Registered Professional Industrial Hygienist, a licensed Asbestos Inspector and Project Designer, a Certified Environmental Inspector, and a Certified Planner, and previously served as a New York State ICC/BCAP Energy Code Ambassador. He has participated in various programs including seminars and lectures conducted by groups such as the American Society of Civil Engineers, the New York State Society of Professional Engineers, the Environmental Assessment Association, and the American Society of Home Inspectors. He the current Chair of the National Professional Engineers in Construction Group, the NYS Mid-Hudson Region Vice President, and the Immediate Past President of the Rockland County Chapter. Mr. Yarmus has previously been acknowledged as the Rockland Chapter Young Engineer of the Year and twice as the Chapter Member of the Year. He has also been elected twice to serve as the NYSSPE Mid-Hudson Region nominating committee delegate, and has been awarded two Presidential Citations for his dedication to and efforts on behalf of the Professional Engineers of both New York State and Rockland County. In 2011, Mr. Yarmus received the New York State Society of Professional Engineers Meritorious Service Award which recognizes a professional engineer who has made an outstanding contribution to the goals of the Society of Professional Engineers over an extended period of time. [Read more…]

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