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Baby Boomer Brain Drain
Building Design + Construction
Applying U.S. Census data, management consultant Ray Kogan, AIA, estimates that one of every three A/E-firm employees is older than 55 and, in "the next 15 years, the number of architects and engineers aged 55-64 will increase by 47%, while the number of those aged 33-54 will decrease by 6%," leading to the loss of thousands of Baby Boomers who today comprise the core of their firms. Said Kogan, "Capturing and institutionalizing the knowledge they've gained through the decades is a one-time opportunity — really an imperative — for our firms, our profession, and our industry."
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Drink a Glass of Leachate and Call Me in the Morning
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists studied 19 landfills across the United States and found 129 prescription and nonprescription chemicals, along with household and industrial chemicals, in untreated leachate samples. In each sample, the number of chemicals ranged from 6 to 82, with a median of 31. Landfills in areas receiving the most precipitation had the most chemicals detected and highest concentrations.
Losing with a Straight Flush
Water and Wastes Digest
Continued rapid growth is forecasted for the $6 billion/year disposable-wipes industry. Few of the wipes are dispersible, including those labeled "flushable," which only means they can transit through a toilet. The biggest problem seems to be nonflushables, like baby wipes, that people flush anyway, leading to massive, new sewer-system maintenance headaches and costs; e.g., deragging of pumps, valves, and other equipment and needlessly high energy costs. They also create safety problems by exposing workers to hypodermic needles concealed in the rag balls. Many communities are now mounting efforts to make people aware of the problem and provide guidance on proper disposal. If your community hasn't done much lately, here's an opportunity to work with your local DPW to launch a campaign.
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Solar Projects Create Geoprofessional Demand
Las Vegas Sun
Construction has started on Silver State South, a $1 billion, 250-megawatt solar power-generating station that will produce enough electricity to power about 80,000 California homes. Slated for completion in 2016, Silver State South is taking shape on four square miles of federal land south of Las Vegas, in the Mojave Desert. Its neighbor is the 50-megawatt Silver State North project, with solar arrays laid out on one square mile of federal land. Uncle Sam furnishes the land via the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). BLM has approved more than 50 renewable-energy projects around the country. Has your geoprofessional firm expanded into this new field? Should it?
Call for Abstracts: Spring Conference in Miami
Have a creative idea for a presentation at the Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA) Spring Conference in Miami, FL, April 16-18, 2015? Here's your chance to share it with us: Just download the submission form, complete it, and send it in. The GBA Conference Committee will review all submissions. The theme of the conference is "Optimizing Performance for Our Firms and Our Clients: Innovation in Practice."
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
MEETING MANAGEMENT: Leaders Speak Last
The New York Times
The New York Times recently interviewed Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of the Preferred Hotel Group. She had some truly insightful comments on how to be an effective business leader. Example: In response to the question, "How has your leadership style evolved?" she said she learned that, "[W]hen I'm running meetings, I need to be the last one to speak about a topic, because otherwise that sways people. I've learned to throw a topic out, ask a lot of questions and get a lot of engagement before I speak my mind. I've also asked my team to really challenge me when they think we may be going down the wrong path. Sometimes when you're the new leader, you're trying hard to prove that you're capable. Now I definitely rely on my executive team to give me advice and counsel."
EDITORIAL: Haste Makes Waste
You've probably heard about Sandra A. "Sandy" Soyles, P.E. A practitioner for 30 years, she's honed her skills to an almost surreal degree: She can do in two hours what lesser geoprofessionals take six hours to do, and her findings and recommendations are always — not "almost always" — on target. You can therefore imagine how stunned Sandy was when her firm's CEO — Hardesty L. "Chipper" Wood, P.E. — summoned her to his office with a solemn "We need to talk." And what did Chipper have to say? "I feel so bad about this, but we've got to let you go. You're just too good."
H.R. DEPT.: Are You Making It Too Hard To Earn a Promotion?
If you make it too hard to get promoted, some of your best rising stars may seek a different heaven. One of the promotion practices you might want to change is making promotions only once a year. Years ago, that was acceptable, but not today: People just don't want to wait, even though it may be only for a few months. True, making promotions at different times during a year leads to some extra administrative tasks, but it can also be motivating to employees who know that their needs are more important than administrative bureaucracy. (Keeping them on staff may be more important, too.) Another easily correctable problem is a lack of information on how to get promoted. Often, job descriptions are not published or, if they are, they're out of date. And more often than not, the skill sets needed for each job aren't published either, making the ladder climb that much more difficult and confusing.
Climate Change, Meet Aging Infrastructure
The Associated Press via Yahoo! News
Miami Beach has a problem: Abnormally high (i.e., the "new normal") high tides force seawater through aging infrastructure in the fall and spring, flooding streets and snarling traffic. "The Beach" is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels; it's a barrier island that averages less than five feet above sea level. Attempting to keep pace with climate change, the city is investing $400 million to upgrade its storm-water system (60 new pumps and a higher sea wall). At least two pumps should be working when the next abnormal high tides start to hit in late fall. Somewhat ominously, those tides will likely be three inches higher than last year’s. Miami Beach is hardly unique in these respects. Geoprofessionals who get involved in these and related services have an opportunity to help keep U.S. communities safe while developing a healthy income stream.
YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING DEPT.: Doctors Don't Bid. Why Should...ooops
"Doctors don't bid. Why should we?" That's a question geoprofessionals have been asking for decades, and — truth be told — the best of them have developed honest answers that quality-conscious client representatives believe in, as they should. But it's no longer appropriate to say that physicians don't bid or that anyone selecting a brain surgeon based on lowest bid would have nothing for the physician to operate on. Introducing SurgiPrice, where those needing physical repair can request bids from a "network of elite surgeons." And what kind of questions should you ask those docs? Suggests SurgiPrice, one should be, "Will you give me a written Bundled Bid Price for my surgery? To include: Surgeon fee, Anaesthesia Fee, and Facility fee."
GRAPE PRESS: Another Great Red and a Really Great Negociant
If you like outstanding cabernet sauvignon but refuse to spend more than $12/bottle, you must try Seven Falls Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, from Washington's Wahluke Slope. Rated 90 by Wine Spectator, whose reviewer found it "supple, expressive, and generous, with spicy blackberry, currant, and licorice flavors, pouring into the harmonious and polished finish." It's available for $11.95 or so and is an incredible value. But to really talk about value, you need to shop at the Cameron Hughes website. Hughes is a negociant, a French term meaning a wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers and sells the result under its own name. In this case, however, he buys wine or the makings thereof from producers large and small. We have yet to be disappointed. Once you get on the mailing list, you realize that "Cam" has specials almost once a week. And if you buy two cases or more — buy it with friends — shipping is free.
2014-2015 GBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon / Somerset, NJ)
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)
Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)
Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates / Concord, NH)
Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc. / Nashville, TN)
Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063