Engineering: The Hiring Revolution
With the continuing concern over the future of engineering education, there is a greater need than ever to rethink the hiring practices of typical engineering firms. Whether or not there is an overall, worldwide shortage of engineering graduates, recent data in the United States does point to declines in engineering enrollment and subsequent graduation. If we take this to its logical conclusion, we are faced with the fact that regardless of the level of outreach to elementary and high school students, there is a gap in engineering graduates that must be addressed.
Paving the Future of Civil Engineers
What would bring together the presidents of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations; International Federation of Consulting Engineers; the South African Institution of Civil Engineering; the Japan Society of Civil Engineers; senior leaders from Bechtel Corporation; Camp, Dresser & McKee; DMJM Harris; and a plethora of academic institutions, private and public companies, and organizations? The Summit on the Future of the Civil Engineering Profession in 2025.
Held in June, the 2025 Summit gathered national and world engineering leaders to address globalization, technology, and leadership for engineers in the next few decades. It is akin to the planning that parents undergo for their children’s future education. The mentors, or concerned guardians, of our profession strategized on the actions and investments that will continue to generate leaders in civil engineering. The summit’s report summarizing the findings and conclusions will be published later this year.
Confidentiality governs several aspects of the summit. Therefore, please note that the rest of this article is my speculation, had I been able to participate in the summit.
Research You Can Actually Use for Something
There’s no doubt about it—A/E and environmental firms do waste money on useless research. Finding out, for example, how large the land development market is nationally, when you have a need to create work for four people in your Little Rock, Ark., office.
That said, research projects can be worth doing, and the right research can cause you to change your business entirely. In a recent editorial in The Zweig Letter, Mark Zweig, founder of ZweigWhite, offered some examples of research that firms can actually use.
Business Development Training Boosts Revenue
Only 52 percent of architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firms offer lead development training, according to respondents of ZweigWhite’s 2006 Training & Development Survey. The survey also states project managers on average receive approximately five hours of marketing training a year. "Many technical professionals lack the essential skills required to increase firm sales," says Anne Scarlett, principal with ZweigWhite and director of the firm’s marketing consulting group.
Profit Margins for A/E Firms Reach New Heights
Architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms have earned their highest profit margins in seven years, a new report shows. ZweigWhite’s newly published 2006 Financial Performance Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms indicates the median pre-tax, pre-bonus profit on net service revenue is now a record 12.5 percent, up from its previous high of 11.1 percent, set in 2001.
Come November, California Could See a Significant Boost in Transportation Funding
Transportation construction spending in California could see a significant boost when voters go to the polls this November. According to a recent report from California Builder & Engineer, a package of bonds for highway, school, and levee construction totaling $37.3 billion is scheduled for voter approval, with $20 billion slated for transportation.
A separate measure, the publication says, would protect 2002’s Proposition 42, which dedicated the sales tax on gasoline to transportation. If all the measures pass, state-funded spending levels for transportation will increase by about $1 billion per year, a 30-percent increase over current levels, the report states.
"Even if the November bonds fail, infrastructure spending is on the rise," P.T. Hill reports for the magazine. "Counties throughout the state are enacting or renewing their half-cent transportation sales tax measures, funding an ever-increasing volume of work."