Professional Engineers Of North Carolina

FALL 2014

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2 the Professional Engineer Fall 2014 F r o m t h e p r e s i d e n t B y N e i l D e a N s , P e An Engineer's Perspective Tere is an old "Dilbert" cartoon that features his mother taking a young, toddler-aged Dilbert to the doctor. Te scene proceeds like this: She is con- cerned. Te doctor begins to examine young Dilbert complete with a gentle bump from a refex hammer on his knee, causing his foot to kick slightly forward. As the doctor peers into Dilbert's eyes and ears, he cautiously asks the worried mother, "What seems to be the problem?" Dilbert's mother replies, "I am worried about little Dilbert. He has been acting a bit strange lately." Te doctor pursues the line of questioning, "Can you tell me what you mean exactly?" She continues, "Yesterday, he disassembled the TV, our clock and the stereo … and the part that worries me the most is he used the components to build a Ham Radio!" Te doctor scratches his chin, "Oh dear," he says calmly, "Normally I would want to run an EEG on him, but I am afraid the machine is broken." Te sound of electrical beeps and burps suddenly fll the room. Te scene widens away from the conversation between Dilbert's mother and the doctor to reveal little Dilbert sitting at the base of the EEG's cabinet with the fnal connection of wiring in his hands, leaving the EEG fully operational. And the punch line: Te doctor pulls down a medical book and proclaims that it is worse than he thought and little Dilbert has "Te Knack — an extreme intuition about all things electrical and mechanical." He sighs and adds, " … and utter social ineptitude." His mother sobs and asks, "Can he lead a normal life?" Te doctor responds succinctly, "No. He'll be an engineer." About 10 years ago, a nonengineer business partner of mine shared this "Dilbert" video with me. I have had it on my computer since then. It is a funny jab at the stereotype of engineers. It even reminds me of a few of my friends. But that's not why I have kept it. I have kept the cartoon for two completely diferent reasons: First, we as professional engineers are, in fact, a rare breed. By our chosen profession, we work through our intellectual processes to analyze, understand and solve problems. We are great problem solvers. Engineers should be proud of that. Second, and very simply, engineers solve problems using facts and science. I believe that is extremely important in the modern world of information overload, where the 24-hour news cycle can make often uninformed opinion take on the appearance of fact. Over the past few years, PENC has taken strides to focus on the engineer trait of fact-based problem solving for some of North Carolina's challenges. Te organization has moved from a position of reacting to issues that afect our members to a position of leading on those very same issues. We have formed action groups that allow our professional engineers a seat at the table to address our infrastructure and its sustainability, regulatory reform, resource steward- ship and ethics. Our informed, fact-based conclu- sions are being sought out. PENC and its ranks of professional engineers will continue to grow our leadership positions. One way in which PENC looks forward to doing so is through informational sessions featuring the top engineers and science resources on issues currently receiving attention. It is with these resources that the fact-based conversation can occur on topics such as shale gas exploration and coal ash. Please look for upcoming informational sessions, take advantage of opportunities to engage in action groups and even help PENC identify the next issue that could beneft from engineering leadership. Lead with your engineer perspective and make Dilbert (and his mother) proud! neil deans, pe, President Lead with facts to solve problems creatively and go beyond a "normal life."

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