Setting Standards: The Benefits to Getting Involved

This week let's step back and ensure that CSEs understand the benefits of being involved in the standards setting process.


In past blogs I’ve discussed many of the issues facing consulting-specifying engineers as they address the technical issues relating to substation design and operation, noting pertinent standards along the way. Last week, I outlined the process by which standards are created and ratified.

This week I’d like to step back and ensure that CSEs understand the benefits of being involved in the standards setting process, because it affords innumerable opportunities for personal and career growth, as well as major benefits for the company you serve. For today, let’s look at the personal and career benefits.

As noted last week, engineers involved in the implementation of technology periodically encounter hurdles to equipment interoperability, either physically or in terms of software. Or they discover a gap in established processes for implementation. That engineer, along with colleagues, will forward the idea to one of the IEEE’s technical societies, which may endorse the idea and become Sponsors of subsequent standards work.

The various IEEE Sponsoring Committees, which create and supervise the working groups that tackle the actual definition, writing and ratifying of standards, are organized by technology. There are dozens of such committees, many of which are in the Power and Energy Society, and they include the Substation Committee, Transformers Committee, Power System Relaying Committee, and Switchgear Committee. Participation is open to all IEEE members. You don’t need to be a member of a sponsoring committee to join the working groups. The committees and working groups are composed of movers and shakers in the industry.

Typically, each committee will have a website, which reveals standards currently in progress and the scope of that work, which may aid aspiring CSEs in determining the direction they’d like to pursue.

Becoming acquainted with industry leaders and being exposed to the myriad technical topics engaging the industry today and into the future is the first major benefit. Getting involved in the technical meetings or in standards development also has practical benefits, as that involvement can earn the CSE continuing-education units toward professional engineering requirements in some states.

Getting involved places the CSE at the very center of developments in his/her field. Imagine the networking opportunities! The CSE thus has access to utilities, their equipment vendors, regulators, educational organizations – the full spectrum of stakeholders in the process of grid modernization. Whether you’re interested in the knowledge of your peers, in seeking employment or contacts and insights that will aid your firm, this involvement pays dividends in personal and career growth.

Consultation with colleagues can yield tangible benefits to your technical work, as well as enable friendships and professional relationships that can be the source of valuable references for the future.  Those references may be needed to obtain a professional engineering license. In joining a small consultancy, for instance, the budding engineer seeking his/her professional engineering license will need references for an application. Accrediting organizations typically want to see references from individuals at other companies, from people who have direct knowledge of and experience with that person in an engineering capacity. These references may be needed for achieving the status of “senior member” or “fellow” in IEEE itself. Participation in the standards-setting process by joining one of the working groups is an excellent means to that end.

Finally, the process of working within a committee of your peers, articulating the issues and solutions in search of a new standard – as well as the consensus-building aspect of seeking to ratify a new standard – offers the aspiring CSE broad experience in listening, considering others’ positions and making compromises that hone your professionalism and judgment.  

As you can imagine, this sort of involvement, so vital to the personal and career growth of the individual CSE, will also pay dividends to the companies that employ them. We’ll tackle that subject next week.

Sam Sciacca is an active senior member in the IEEE and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the area of utility automation. He has more than 25 years of experience in the domestic and international electrical utility industries. Sciacca serves as the chair of two IEEE working groups that focus on cyber security for electric utilities: the Substations Working Group C1 (P1686) and the Power System Relay Committee Working Group H13 (PC37.240). Sciacca also is president of SCS Consulting.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.