February 2018

Here's Why You Should Attend NACE 2018

 By Brian Keierleber, PE
       NACE President


I sit back and think that I am lucky to live where I do. There are about 7.6 billion people in the world and about 325 million people in the U.S. That makes the odds of being born in the U.S. about 1 in 23. Yes, we are lucky to be here.

Generally speaking, I believe the immigrants appreciate living here more than those of us that were born here. Closer to home I think of the Old Order Amish community that is here in my county. It is truly a simpler way of life. A drive out there tends to lower your blood pressure. It is a way of life that attempts to avoid change. The basic philosophy is in an effort to be closer to God they avoid modern conveniences. They generally have no electricity, no rubber tires, no running water in the house and no simple things like mirrors or photos.

This does not fit well in the modern world so there is a stress level there also. It is not possible to compete in the modern world farming with horses compared to farming with a 200 horse powered tractor. Because of this many are renting out the land and looking for work doing residential type construction.

Change comes hard for all of us. In our field of maintaining the infrastructure across the nation it is especially critical to look for better methods and materials in construction. It is also essential to seek and implement better management practices. We cannot compete in a modern world with the same roads and bridges our grandparents used. Also, leadership skills that worked with prior generations will not necessarily be accepted by the modern workforce. For the first time in history, five generations make up our workforce and they think and act and respond differently. We do not want people that blindly follow the direction they have been given. We want them to think and innovate.

I recently gave a presentation at the 2018 Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, D.C. The session was organized by FHWA’s Office of Innovative Program Delivery and the subject was Leadership in Innovation. Joining me on the panel were the Secretaries of Transportation of Delaware DOT and New York City, and FHWA leadership. What an honor it was to represent NACE and our community of County Engineers. I think they were surprised at how innovative counties can be.

The reality is I learned a lot in the process and education is a fundamental aspect. We must educate ourselves in order to charge forward. Then we must educate our contemporaries. Anyone who has ever taught a workshop understands that you learn by training others. We must also educate our supervisors so they understand why we are changing things, and we must educate our subordinates. They must also understand not just the how but the why.

So, now that you are onboard, the next question is how do we accomplish this? My response is we must look outside our own borders. If you never leave your County you will continue to be doing the things the same way you always have. Get involved in NACE and your state organizations and stay involved. Attend meetings.

And especially, come to NACE 2018 this April in Wisconsin Dells. If you need to explain why you should attend, just tell your supervisors that you are looking for better ways of doing things and NACE is the leading place to learn this. No other place has as many local road experts from across the nation in attendance. Virtually all of them have experience in the field and on the ground. Not even the best colleges can do that. You will not keep up if you are farming with Shetlands."

 

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Here's Why You Should Attend NACE 2018

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