Engineering Inc. - July/August 2007 - (Page 48)

One On One CASE Chairman Discusses Challenges Facing Structural Engineers Chris Poland is president and CEO of Degenkolb Engineers in San Francisco and chairman of the Council of American Structural Engineers (CASE). What are today’s most pressing challenges for structural engineers? Q. With a fast-paced global economy, the pressures of commoditization, automation, outsourcing and fee competition have become the most pressing challenges. The problems related to retention, profitability and ownership distribution and transition follow close behind. Also, coordinating the proper role of structural engineers in Building Information Modeling (BIM) is another major challenge. It’s clear that BIM will be a way of doing business in the future. Structural engineers have to find their place in the process—preferably a lead position and not a secondary position. As CAse celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, what are its achievements and prospects? A. Q. CASE has produced and continues to write and update practice guidelines and standard contracts. We are proud of the 48 enGIneeRInG InC. A. dozens of documents that assist structural engineers in developing constructive, successful and profitable relationships. Most of us work as subcontractors to architects within the design process. That relationship is unique and fraught with challenges related to scope of work, areas of responsibility, fees and teamwork. Deliberate risk management in this highly automated, global economy is important. The CASE Risk Management Program (RMP) reaches all levels of engineers in firms and delivers timely information, management tools and convocations where we can share war stories, best practices and define where help is needed. Two convocations will be held this fall—one at the ACEC Fall Conference in Maui and one as part of a special program in Atlanta this November. As for future projects, we are defining the role of structural engineers in the design of fireproofing systems and we plan to publish a related guideline and contract modifications. We also are looking into the role and responsibility of BIM as it moves the design and construction professions toward interoperability and its dependence on delivering information digitally. What impact will the CAse RMP have in reducing insurance premiums for members? Insurance premiums are individually set for each of our firms based on a mix of work, business practices and claims history. Being deliberate means paying attention to the risks inherent in the work you take on, following industrydefined practice definitions and learning to avoid claims once a problem arises. No one is perfect, but one of the keys emphasized through the RMP is to proactively work to resolve issues, and not just hide from potential problems through the use of clever contract language. Fewer claims also significantly reduce the overhead costs associated with defending yourself against claims. RMP also is working toward certification for firms that are active participants in the program so that they immediately will be recognized as a deliberately risk-managed firm and eligible for premium credits. That’s going to take some time, but we are confident that we can show the difference and help firms achieve significant savings. CAse actively is seeking additional members. What would you say to encourage a non-member to join? A. Q. Q. We are structural engineers, dedicated to safety, resilience and cost-effective A. construction. We also need to be business leaders, even though we don’t often have the time to attend to details. CASE and ACEC make doing business easier and more effective. The best practices, contracts and risk-management tools and programs make learning easy and continuous for all member firms. The wide variety of committees and opportunities to network with fellow owners and managers drives learning, adds a level of sophistication to the problem-solving process and provides an opportunity to help craft the state-of-the-practice. Plus, a focus on legislative advocacy enables member firms to band together and speak with a compelling common voice about issues in need of legislative remedy. What’s more, the cost to add CASE to your firm’s ACEC membership is less than most companies spend each year on coffee! One claim avoided pays the bill for decades. The bimonthly Risk Management eNewsletter, which is sent to all designated engineers in our firm, is worth the price 10 times over because it makes deliberate risk management top-of-mind, firm-wide, important and easy to do. So I say to prospective members: Don’t delay—join CASE today. Visit our website at case to view our products, get more information and access the application form. n July / AuGust 2007

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - July/August 2007

Call for Entries
From ACEC to You
News & Notes
Market Watch
Legislative Action
The Big Dig
Risky Engineering
2007 Professional Liability Survey
Institute For Business Management Fall 2007 Course Catalog
Roadside Technology
2007 Convention Wrap-Up
2007-2008 Excom
2007 Fall Conference Primer
Business Insights
Members in the News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - July/August 2007