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Re: Any Young Engineers Out There?

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Jordan,

You have hit a "pet peeve" of mine.  Be careful which organizations you
call trade organizations.  ACI, ASCE, TMS and others are NOT trade
organizations.  Trade organizations are entities that are in the business
to directly convince you and me to use their "widget" (material, product,
etc).  Their job is to convince you that their widget is that greatest
thing in the world.  AISC partly a trade organiztion (that is part of
their major mission is to convince us in a direct fashion that steel is
teh material of choice)...but they are also a "technical" organization
(part of their mission is to "impassionately" produce technical material
that makes the use of steel easy and "doable", but this can also
indirectly be used to convince us to use steel).  NCMA and BIA and PCA are
other examples of trade organizations (I believe).  The one that I can
speak best to is ACI...ACI is NOT a trade organization.  They do NOT
driectly market the use of concrete (i.e. directly try to convince you to
use concrete over any other material).  They are a technical organization.
They produce technical information (in the form of publications &
seminars) with the aim that if/when you choose to use concrete, you will
have the necessary information to use/design it.  ASCE and TMS are
similar.  ASCE is kind of combination of a technical organization (they
produce standards and other technical documents) and professional
organization (i.e. to promote the profession  [kind of like a trade org]
but also to try to make the profession "better" [with mixed results]).

The other thing is that I don't believe that ANY of these organiztions are
able to lobby (i.e. politically lobby).  They must setup seperate "sub"
orgs for that purpose.  They can certainly "market", which is basically
lobbying (i.e. they are lobbying people to theri view by marketing)...most
of the orgs that you think of don't really actively "market" their main
"thing".  ACI does not "market" concrete...that is what PCA is around for.

As to memberships, I ahve absolutely no problem with someone not wanting
to pay memberships.  That is their choice.  My comments about how I
consider such orgs to be like charities is just MY personal view and don't
expect others to think like I do.  But, I will say that if you (or others)
don't participate (as members or not), then how do you expect codes,
knowledge, or the profession to get better or improve.  Likely with orgs
like ASCE or NSPE, the public would likely have no clue why licensing
engineers is good and then there would likely be no PE laws and that log
home owner would not have needed to come to you (whether he realized it
was good thing or not).  Sitting in the dark dank corner means we get left
behind.  But, you certainly don't need to be a member of an org to
"participate".

Regards,

Scott
Adrian, MI


On Thu, 26 Jan 2006, Jordan Truesdell, PE wrote:

> I emailed Scott personally.  I pointed out that I believe AISC provides
> value for the dollar.
>
> As to "giving back," I run a business. I don't send an extra check to
> Officemax each year for the good work they do in promoting office
> supplies, or for their City of Hope project. Publications are necessary
> tools for the trade, but along with classes, pencils, software, and rent
> they are also expenses.  I'm a structural engineer because I enjoy
> analysis and feel I'm pretty good at it, so that's how I choose to put
> food on the table. It's not a crusade. It's not a mission. It's not part
> of my core values.  I give to several charities each year - most are
> local, some are national. I give to those who promote what I believe in,
> and where I feel I can help make a difference.  Most of the trade
> organizations are in the business of generating money for their members,
> though lobbying, marketing (look for "promotion of the trade" somewhere
> in the literature), or some other means.  Sure, they do good things, too,
> but it's not their core "mission."  I'll save my charity dollars for
> other work, thanks.
>
> Jordan
>
> Scott Maxwell wrote:
>
>  Jordan,
>
> Scott Melnick already addressed some of your misconceptions about AISC and
> AISC membership.  The key thing is that MSC (Modern Steel Construction)
> has very little to do with your membership.  I believe you can still get
> that free WITHOUT being an AISC member (I had a MSC "subcription" long
> before I was an AISC member).  Beyond that the key thing to realize is
> that one of the big reasons why AISC is able to provide their codes/spec
> free in PDF form is that they have a major revenue stream that
> organizations like ASCE, ACI, and TMS don't have...the money that Scott
> mentioned from mills, fabricators, and steel service centers.  This is
> because AISC serves as both a trade (i.e. central focus is to push the
> use of steel...that is marketing) and technical (i.e. to
> produce technical information/publications that make the use
> of steel easier/friendlier) organization.  The other major material
> organizations are NOT trade organizations in addition to being technical
> organizations.  Thus, they lack a significant revenue stream that could
> subsidize their code/standard production efforts.
>
> As to memberships in organizations like ASCE or ACI, I will be the first
> to agree that in general you don't get a whole lot of bang for the buck.
> In fact, I likely spend more money for memberships then I save when buying
> updated codes/standards from those organizations.  I would likely be
> better off financially by just buying the books at non-member prices and
> not being a member at all.
>
> But, I look at those memberships as a form of "giving back" to my
> profession.  Do you donate money to charities?  If so, then if you are
> looking for something for your money then why do it?  After all, you don't
> get anything back from a charity typically.  You do it cause you want to
> help others and because you feel that the cause is good.  I look at many
> of these organizations in a similar manner.  ACI (of which I am not
> currently a member) produces lots of potentially useful information on
> concrete that I may or may not use, but certainly others will.  The same
> goes for ASCE and TMS and others.  In addition, ASCE tries (somewhat
> debatable at times) to "better" our profession.
>
> Thus, I don't look at those memberships as pure financial, bottom line
> type decisions.  If I did, then I likely would not be a member of any
> organization, even AISC which does give much more "bang for the buck" with
> its membership.
>
> And for the record, the next ASCE 7 will be ASCE 7-10 (i.e. 2010).  They
> are technically going to a 6 year cycle, but are doing only 5 years in the
> next one to get 1 year "ahead" of the material standards such as ACI 318.
>
> As to updating your codes, I certainly would encourage you to do it as
> frequently as possible, but I can certain understand you or others might
> not.  Personally, I keep up to date...and I am essentially a one man shop
> (the company that I work for part-time does not pay for any of my
> publications).  This has been true when I worked for large A/E firms...I
> would personally maintain my OWN library with current codes and
> publications.  Those companies (and my current one does too) did buy some
> of the "key" codes and standards, but I found it to be much easier on
> myself to not have to hunt down the company copy.  But that was my choice
> and I certainly don't look down on those that decide not to follow in my
> foot steps.  But, I frankly don't have much sympathy for people who
> complain about the cost of codes, etc.  If it really such a problem, then
> there are plenty of other professions out there that are much less
> expensive to be in (burger flippin' comes to mind).  In the end, I look at
> buying textbooks, codes, and other structural publications as the price
> that I must pay for choosing to be a structural engineer.  They are the
> "tools" of my trade.
>
> Regards,
>
> Scott
> Adrian, MI
>
>
> On Wed, 25 Jan 2006, Jordan Truesdell, PE wrote:
>
>
>
>  Oh, believe me, whenever I have someone walk in my door to get an
> engineered plan for a log home, that's exactly the response I get.  Same
> with 10' basement walls. And the guy who wanted to put up a 16' tall
> garage with 12' of backfill on one side, and then chaffed at my $600 fee
> because it only cost him $300 for his drafter friend to do the plan and
> elevations in his spare time, completely ignoring the mechanics of
> structures.
>
> No, it's not necessarily just the publications, but the fees for
> "membership" that include things like multiple copies of the internal
> magazine, or just that they fund a magazine at all. Or that the funds go
> to lobbying, marketing, and other various pieces.  Personally, I think
> the AISC offers some of the best products for my membership dollar -
> like the design guides on line, which is why I'm still a member.  In
> fact, I've not renewed most of my memberships - they're just not
> providing me "value".
>
> What do I do now that I don't' get the "discount" price? I skip
> revisions, instead. For me, ASCE went from 95 to 02, and its likely that
> I won't update 'til 08 (will there be an '08, or are we into 6 year
> updates now?). ACI-318? The copy on my shelf is 95, and is getting
> updated this year.  Masonry? 99 to 05. How does buying a non-member book
> at $200 every six years help them more than me buying a $140 "member
> priced" book every 3 years. I don't really know, but I don't have the
> budget for retail-priced books every cycle. Maybe when I can spread the
> cost over three or four engineers, but not when its just me, and half my
> time is spent in admin or drafting.
>
> Heck, books have gotten so expensive that Virginia Tech has stopped
> having their students buy the books, and instead sells their internal
> notes for classes - usually for about $20.  Okay, I don't know that cost
> is the reason, but when I peruse the shelves of the VT bookstore, I'm
> finding more and more classes have no textbook or supplemental books.  I
> believe that neither undergrad steel class has a text this year, and I
> know that the geotech retaining wall & foundations didn't have a
> textbook - just a 3 ring binder for $17 from the department.
>
> I suspect you could liken it to your prescription meds. It wouldn't seem
> quite so bad if all that money was going for research, but since drug
> companies spend more on marketing than on research, it's a little hard
> to swallow the non-negotiated prices they charge. It seems like there's
> a lot of waste in the price of those products.  BTW - have you looked
> into the HDHP/HSA plans? If you're paying for meds out of pocket anyway,
> and you don't have too many office visits, it'll probably lower your
> monthly premium a good bit, and the leftover you can put away tax free
> (to use toward the medical stuff, anyway).
>
> Jordan
>
> Scott Maxwell wrote:
>
>
>
>  And I sure that some "joe-smoe" homeowner is rubbed raw by that fact that
> he had to shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars to you just to
> have his/her house built.  And it is "required" by law.  Not to mention
> the fact that some moron builder likely was telling the home owner that
> engineering fees are just a "tax" on their home and you are really needed
> to do the engineering and that what he/she wanted to do was just fine
> cause he/she has been "building them that way for years".
>
> Just cause you don't like the cost of something doesn't mean that it is
> not an appropriate, warranted cost.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
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