Posts tagged ‘civil engineering blog’

Civil Engineering Ethics: Leaving Your Employer & Telling Your Clients

leavingA candidate of mine was given a 60 day notice that he will be laid off from his employer, due to financial conditions of the engineering consulting firm. This engineer is well-respected in his community and known as an expert in the city and county he resides. His employer asked him to not tell the firm’s clients or employees in other offices that he is leaving. He leads a small office of this national consulting firm. Assuming this engineer has no employment agreement, does he have an obligation to his firm? Does he have a professional responsibility to inform his clients?

Whether you are laid off or choose to leave your current employer, how and should you tell your clients?

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Code Of Ethics should be understood and always in the mind of its members. Engineers face situations that often put them in ethical dilemmas with their employers. Let’s look at our situations above while referencing ASCE canons.

*ASCE canon (professional responsibility) #4  states in part that one acknowledges that “clients should have the autonomy to seek professional services from the engineer of their choice. To do so, however, they must have knowledge of circumstances that might affect their selection, and they must be apprised of the options available to them.” If you are the client manager, project manager or technical leader on a project with client interaction, canon #4 suggests that you let the client know you are leaving. If you are the proposed lead of a proposed project and the client is reviewing other firms as well as yours, you are obligated under this canon to inform them.

*But, one must keep in mind canon #3. Canon #3 tells us that engineers must “issue true statements.” In upholding this responsibility, the engineer must keep in mind that he/she “will avoid any act tending to promote their own interests at the expense of the integrity, honor and dignity of the profession.” One must be careful to not speak badly of their current employer to intentionally cause them to be knocked out of contract consideration. The engineer must speak truthfully while not disparaging another engineer unfairly.

*As canon #5 informs “Engineers shall not maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, injure the professional reputation, prospects, practice or employment of another engineer or indiscriminately criticize another’s work.” An exiting employee/engineer must be honest in their assessment of the firm’s ability to continue the client’s work without him/her.  What does one say if the engineer assigned to take over the project is incapable of the role? Canon #5 could be viewed as walking a fine line.

Why is it important for your client to know you are leaving your firm? APQC asked executives to “prioritize what they value when hiring a consultant.” Of top and equal importance to these leaders, they place “firm’s experience” and “project team’s experience” with the client’s issue as top reasons to hire a specific consulting firm. Engineers and their employers have a responsibility to their clients to tell them what has happened or will happen with their project and the team. Clients understand business decisions, they make them everyday. They may not agree with the decisions, but they understand them. If they hired the engineering firm for a specific person’s political connection, the engineering firm has now directly impacted their client’s ability to perform.

Informing your clients of your departure is an ethical as well as professional responsibility. Here’s how to make that transition smoother:

  • Work with your supervisor to inform your client. You employer will want to minimize the client’s concerns.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute or your final day of employment to tell clients.
  • Inform client’s in person or by phone if an in person meeting is not possible. Follow up with an email.
  • It is also good practice to introduce your project successor and offer to help with a project transition plan.

Keep in mind that while these are your employer’s clients- as described above, the client may be there because of YOU! Always be professional!

Let us know what you think!

Carol new profile

Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner,

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion


January 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment

What is the ASCE Grand Challenge?


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has initiated a “Grand Challenge.” The Grand Challenge asks for a commitment from civil engineers to be innovative in all phases of project planning, design, and implementation. The Grand Challenge’s goal is to reduce infrastructure lifespan costs by 50% by 2025 and to encourage innovation and design for infrastructure sustainability. The ASCE Grand Challenge asks civil engineers from all backgrounds and at every career stage to “implement performance-based standards, resilience, innovation, and life cycle cost analysis in all projects.”

The ASCE Report Card for America’s Infrastructure estimates the investment needed for our infrastructure by 2020 is $3.6 trillion, of which $1.6 trillion is unfunded. With each passing year our bridges decay, water mains leak and our foundations crumble. Band-aids are applied and wounds stitched until the next disaster. The new administration assures us that America’s infrastructure- airports, transit/rail, etc- will lead the world. Where will that $1.6 trillion come from if we are not selling our infrastructure to other countries?   ASCE summons its members to become leaders in creating solutions to, at the least, reduce the insufficiency.

What do you think? Can this work? Why not at least try?

Download your “Outreach Toolkit” here:

Let’s us know what you think!

Carol new profile

Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner,

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

December 8, 2016 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

Civil Engineering & The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

As I have been enjoying the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi on TV I began to consider the unique engineering and construction of infrastructure necessary to pull off such an amazing feat.  The infrastructure must not only be able to satisfy the expectations of the 2014 Winter Olympics, but it must be able to satisfy future needs for post-Olympic plans and activities. The costs entailed in developing effective and efficient transportation systems, in building quality housing for Olympic athletes and coaches, in designing surrounding facilities to accommodate and satisfy the thousands and thousands of tourists and spectators,  and creating state of the art and sustainable sporting venues are enormous.  After doing a little bit of digging around I came across the following infographic below that was produced by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.  It is entitled, “Engineering the Sochi Winter Olympics.”  Enjoy!

Engineering the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

February 17, 2014 at 9:48 am 1 comment

CEO or Project Engineer: Value Of Behavioral Assessments

More A/E firms are adding behavioral and personality assessments to their interview process. These tests or inventories “show” tendencies or ways that you are most likely to respond to your surroundings. Proponents say results from the assessments when used with a face to face interview will help predict a good “fit” between you and the job for which you are applying. These evaluations are standardized and carry statistical analysis to add to more commonly used conversational interviews. It has been reported that, unlike a normal interview, it is impossible to “cheat” on an assessment; impossible to answer questions that you think will give you a profile that an employer is seeking. And, you should not try to cheat. Eventually, your true personality will show itself. Firms believe the more they can discover about a persons strengths in personality as well as technical knowledge, the better the chance for a long term employment fit.

Recently I heard a story that shocked me! An executive shared with me one of his behavioral and personality assessment stories. After multiple interviews for a key leadership role in a mid-sized firm, the CEO asked him to meet with a psychologist for an assessment. As he entered the psychologist’s office, the CEO entered also and sat down. The psychologist began with his very in-depth assessment and the CEO remained. This is unethical and highly unusual. I asked the executive why he didn’t ask the CEO to leave or just stand up and walk out! Easy to think what we all would do but tougher when actually in the situation. Afterwards the executive candidate did tell the CEO it was inappropriate for him to have been in the assessment and he withdrew as a candidate.

Back in my graduate school days (many years ago) I recall writing a paper on the worst personality assessment tool I had come across. The test results were based upon which color you liked the best. The test had the validity of a newspaper horoscope. So as I was contemplating this blog, I took one of the common assessments utilized in our industry: The DISC assessment. Without going into too much detail, I will summarize: It was accurate. My chosen profession as an executive recruiter working with architects, engineers and scientists is a good fit!

In my experience, I have seen that when used accurately, various assessments can be helpful. However, often I have witnessed these tools to be used to knock out otherwise good candidates. Readers of the results often “see what they want to see.” They turn a positive attribute into a negative one. It is important that interpreters and users of the collected data be EDUCATED on how to use the information correctly and to weigh the results accurately!

Have you taken any assessments as part of an interview process? Which ones have you taken? Do you think it is invasive, helpful or neither? Do you think you were not offered a job because of testing?

Carol new profile

Carol Metzner
President, The MetznerGroup
Managing Partner,
View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

April 30, 2013 at 10:53 am 6 comments

Civil Engineering & Local Politics: Should You Run For Office?

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

It is that time of year again and the political landscape is heating up! A Google search shows that past/current Mayors of Omaha, NE,  City of East Orange, NJ and Norton, OH were/are civil engineers. Current Portland, OR Mayoral  candidate,  Steve Sung,  spent 32 years as a civil engineer for the city of Portland. With two candidates for California and Indiana congress, civil engineers are “taking to the streets” to lead policy formation.

Recently I asked civil engineer and past Mayor of Frederick, Maryland, Jeff Holtzinger, for his thoughts on civil engineers and local politics. Here is his comment:

“Civil Engineers are a good fit to solve the problems many cities are facing with aging infrastructure and infrastructure that has been outpaced by growth.  I also think the analytical thinking which is part of an engineering background gives engineers an advantage in problem solving.”

As our cities’ infrastructure decays, having a background in civil engineering seems to bring an added benefit to the political table. It would be interesting to see if cities with civil engineering trained Mayors have better infrastructure at the end of their term than similar cities.

What do you think?

May 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm 5 comments

Civil Engineering, Recruiting and Friends

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

This past weekend, a recruiting colleague- and friend, Rick Farquar passed away. With more than 25 years of executive search as owner of Environmental Transportation Consultants, Rick was a big guy who really loved civil engineering and recruiting. He touched many lives over the years. No doubt that his clients and candidates (many who had become friends of his) will miss him. He cared about everyone with whom he came into contact.

People also got to know him by his comments on LinkedIn Groups. And, reading group postings, his loss is felt by many he never met. We connect in this world of social media and have established professional relationships and friendships with colleagues we may never meet in person. Not meeting in person makes these relationships no less important than those with colleagues who sit in the office next to us.

Recruiting is a profession that is much more than a business. If done correctly, it involves understanding client needs, culture and personalities and trying to make the best match with a candidate. Those of us who love our jobs understand that we are dealing with people’s lives. We try to get to know our clients and candidates and, many become long time friends. Rick did this well. He will be missed.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

November 15, 2010 at 6:40 pm 3 comments

A/E Firms: Social Media Guidelines & Online Identity Theft

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

Ryan Link, AICP, wrote a smart article for the summer issue. In his article: Social Networking Isn’t Just for Fun Anymore: How Emerging Media Is Changing The Way We Market and Do Business, Ryan offers interesting insights into the A/E industry’s past and future relationship with social networking. Please read and offer your thoughts!

According to a CE News survey, “most professionals use the Internet to perform their job. Specifically, 77 percent use the Internet to attend online education activities, 86 percent follow-up on articles they read, 98 percent research engineering-related topics, and 87 percent search for information about industry trends.” Yet, even with these high percentage stats, many architectural and civil engineering firms as well as industry related associations are just now writing social media policies and guidelines.

Firms and industry associations appear unable to identify which departments are responsible for handling the companies’ social media outlets. Should marketing teams oversee social media outlets? Should the human resources divisions? Social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook help brand your firms’/associations’ identity. As Ryan discusses in his article, it is potentially an important and cost effective outreach of marketing efforts, among many other outreach items. One thing is for sure, if an A/E firm/association does not take control of its social media identity and set guidelines for itself and its employees then individual employees will set their own guidelines.  Guidelines set by individual employees may not be consistent with the firms own objectives or guidelines.

Let me offer some examples:

A national A/E firm has a group on LinkedIn created by and managed by an ex-employee. The individual worked for the company for less than 3 years and stole the employers identity! Having your firm’s identity on LinkedIn hijacked in this manner can lead to a plethora of undesirable results. I am aware that several national industry associations did not pay attention to social media only to find their online identities hijacked by architects and civil engineers who started and ran their own national association group in that associations name. A/E firms and associations who do not police the social networking forums run the risk that their online identity may be misused or worse used for nefarious purposes. When your firm’s identity is used on a social media site such use is an extension of your firm. You need to be very careful regarding who is authorized to set the standard – that defines your brand.

Most of us Google our names to see how we are portrayed in the online world. We need to do the same thing with our corporate identity.  Remember that a third party’s first impression of your firm may be based on information found on Google and on many of the social networking sites.  We want to be sure that the first impression is a good one. The Internet and social media outlets are here to stay.

Ryan suggests in his article, five questions firms/associations should consider before entering the world of emerging media.  I recommend that you consider your answers to those five questions and to share those questions and answers with your management/marketing/human resources team. Help your firm take control of their image!Bookmark and Share

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

July 7, 2010 at 9:08 am Leave a comment

How are you providing value to your clients and your employer?

Babette Burdick
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

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No matter where you sit around the table, you can provide value to your employer and your clients by staying current with their (not your) area of expertise.

Understanding current industry-specific issues, including financial, sourcing, materials and materials management and legal factors, can provide you with a well-rounded perspective from which to make design and engineering recommendations.  Staying current with your clients’ world view is your entire organization’s responsibility, not just the guys/gals at the top.

Because the buck stops everywhere these days.

Triggering events can provide the fulcrum for differentiating your company to current and prospective customers. Triggering events are events that tip the scales and force change within an industry.   Like changes in the construction code or ratings for doors used in specific buildings. Like the use of nanotechnology in building materials. Like green initiatives in various states.

Waiting around for “someone else” in your organization to disperse this information to you is not an option. You are the “someone” who must prioritize information gathering to round out your project perspective.  And where you get this information is just as important as the information itself.

Because customers who perceive vendors as commodities will always base their decisions on price. Let’s face it, in the absence of any other defining factor, what else is there?

So your ability to use triggering events to enhance the insights you provide for your customers becomes an all-or-nothing exercise in impacting their perception of the value you bring to their table.

And I’m not talking about bombarding your clients with constant tidbits from news feeds or industry magazines. I’m talking about your taking the time to review information from a variety of resources and PERCOLATE that information so it impacts how you synthesize your role to your customers.

You may change your perspective in terms of how you express yourself to your customers, your co-workers and your employer. Which in turn impacts how you view your role as a client resource and solutions provider.

Not all customers call you because they have a problem that needs to be solved. They simply may want to run an idea by you that may have nothing to do with your area of design expertise. They may want you to act as a sounding board on a business decision they need to make. In other words, they consider you a trusted resource.  So how do you get there from where you currently are?

Do you have the type of information in your professional toolkit to serve your customers in this manner? And I am addressing everyone up and down the corporate food chain. It’s that important.

At this point you may be asking: “OK, so I am now going to enhance my business acumen and perspective with all this great information. Just where do you suggest I find it?”  Good question. And I think you probably know some really good answers.

Here are some non-traditional clue cards. And I welcome your suggestions for additional sources of information.

  1. LinkedIn discussion groups are a tremendous way of  keeping your ear to the rail. Engineering discussion groups are the pulse of industry. There are so many technical, regulatory, financial and philosophical discussions going on within these groups that – at the very least – reading the discussion threads is an education in itself. So if you are not already a member of various LinkedIn groups, join them. If you are already a member, check out the sub groups and new engineering groups that are constantly forming.
  2. And while you are participating in LinkedIn discussion threads, remember that your name and your company name are included in your signature with each thread post.  Participating in LinkedIn discussions is a tremendous way of demonstrating expertise without “advertising” your company.  Folks want to build their networks, especially with savvy people like you who provide great input to discussion threads. Don’t you think they will notice which company you work for, as well? And it works both ways.  No matter where you sit around the table, you can provide your business development folks with the names of companies you feel may be prospective clients. I think they may find your input valuable.
  3. Signing up for RSS newsfeeds on various topics allows you to receive industry-specific or topic-specific articles on your desktop.  Discuss your findings at work or post your own discussion on LinkedIn. You may be surprised at who responds and what you learn from the interchange.
  4. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an additional resource that allows you to provide context to the financial environment of each state. This information is particularly relevant if you work for a company with out of state projects.  This information also allows you to understand the issues that may be impacting subcontractors you may use for  these out of state projects.

And don’t tell me you have no time to engage in these activities. The nature of what we call “work” and the context of where we gather and exchange information are in flux. The entire business development paradigm is changing.

Do you want to be on the outside looking in or an active participant in growing your value to your customers and your company?

Think about it.

June 30, 2010 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

How to Prevent Infrastructure Disaster?

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

This August will be the 3rd anniversary of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis and the 5th anniversary of the New Orleans levee system failure. July brings with it the 19th year mark of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway collapse. While we now understand how these events occurred, has the civil engineering industry implemented systems to help prevent future disasters? Has our government implemented systems to help?

Cutbacks in civil engineering staff across the US’s civil engineering companies and  low bid contract awards from local, state and federal agencies cause some to question whether projects are being completed by the best talent available. As we discussed in a previous blog, some firms that previously hired the best engineering talent have now cut them in favor of less experienced, less expensive engineers. What effect, if any will this have on our future infrastructure?

This week it was reported that the Michigan Department of Transportation has been late on inspections on bridge reports.  A state audit determined that about 10% of bridge inspections were overdue, some for 36 months or more. It was further reported that the Federal Highway Administration “ordered the state to complete hundreds of crucial bridge inspections by Dec. 31 or risk losing highway funding, a last-ditch punishment that MDOT says it will avoid.”

Similarly, Stamford, CT advocate news just announced “Hundreds of state bridges rated deficient.” Specifically: of the state’s 5,300 bridges, 10 percent, or 509, are structurally deficient and ranked in poor condition, according to the state Department of Transportation. Fifty-four percent are in fair condition, while 36 percent are in good condition.

The Monitor reporter Jared Janes wrote this week  that lower than expected bids from contractors eager for work will allow the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, in charge of the construction, to complete more than 40 additional miles to raise and rehabilitate Rio Grande levees.

Our government has implemented guidelines for engineering designs and mandated structural inspections. Private industry and public agencies struggle with budget cuts. How can we prevent infrastructure disasters with  contract monies put on hold and experienced staff being caught in layoffs? What are your thoughts?

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

June 23, 2010 at 9:42 am Leave a comment

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