Keeping up the pace

I’m not sure what it is about the cold, dark days of December that makes everyone so reflective, but it’s a good time to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re headed.


I’m not sure what it is about the cold, dark days of December that makes everyone so reflective, but it’s a good time to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re headed. This past year has been a tough one for nearly everyone. The nonresidential construction business stayed slow, though forecasted improvements in 2012 and beyond are heartening. We’ve seen a lot of engineering work on existing buildings, and the commissioning market has taken off. Making buildings more energy-efficient is still big business.

We also saw a lot of mergers and acquisitions among MEP engineering firms. Take a look at our 2010 MEP Giants, for example (October 2010). The reduction in the number of companies listed is a direct result of mergers or buyouts, many of them in strategic markets. Another trend for 2011: We’re becoming more global. Just like many manufacturing companies, engineering firms are becoming global conglomerates, with offices around the world.

This magazine also had an interesting year. Our parent company opted to sell off or close all of its U.S.-based magazines in April; Consulting-Specifying Engineer opened under the umbrella of a start-up media firm dedicated solely to engineers less than a month later (CFE Media LLC). Look forward toward more engineering companies partnering with specialized content providers in 2011 and beyond. Our 2011 plans are in place online at Speaking of technology, look out for a hailstorm of technology—new and updated—in 2011 and beyond.

As noted in our “2010 Thought leaders” articles starting on page 20, engineers will be even more focused on learning and using technology in the near future. This is due, in part, to our on-demand society, which requires us to have the latest and greatest technology now. On the flipside, it’s also due to the fact that young engineers know most of these “newfangled” software programs coming right out of college, and demand that their new employer use them. Say what you will, but this push from the Millennials is forcing the engineering community to surge ahead in technology.

Also looking forward, we need to ensure that our young engineers are gaining the nontechnical skills they need. Colleges and universities are bursting at the seams teaching theoretical and practical engineering knowledge, but transferable or “soft” skills can’t be bought. We all have to work together to ensure that communication, leadership, and other career skills are provided to young engineers. (See Career Smart on page 13 for a good example, or read about Vickie Rockwell for a real-life example on page 48.) Thanks for sticking with us through 2010 at Consulting-Specifying Engineer. Happy New Year, and stay tuned for a fast-paced 2011.

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