Yesterday, I attended the December meeting of the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Dallas Branch (ASCE). The keynote speaker was James M. Crites, Executive Vice President for the Operations Division of DFW International Airport. During his speech, he gazed out at the audience and commented on the number of gray heads in attendance. On numerous occasions, he thanked us for our service as Civil Engineers. He asked those of us who have retired and those who are near retirement to remember that there is a need for engineers and for the service we provide. He asked us to take the time to mentor the younger generation of Engineers and to make ourselves available to provide our expertise and knowledge in the future.
If you are a Baby Boomer like me, you may have already taken the opportunity to retire. You may have a desire to travel, study, or pursue a second career. However, there are many Engineers out there that are retiring or leaving the Engineering work force for other reasons.
During this time of economic uncertainty, many municipalities and organizations are downsizing. Additionally, many organizations do not have the funds available to retain an Engineering staff. Consequently, Engineers are leaving the work force in droves.
Engineers that are eligible to retire are often the first to leave. However, many of the employees that remain in the organizations are left behind without substantial experience or expertise. If the organization planned adequately for the future, a succession plan is already in place. If not, the remaining engineering staff may have difficulty carrying out the required job duties effectively.
Throughout my career, my focus has always been on mentoring and staff development. I am also an advocate for Public Works and for those men and women who, on a daily basis, take care of our basic needs. Even though I am no longer a full-time Public Works Director, I am available to assist on a project-specific or task-specific basis. Like me, there are other Public Servants that have left the work-force who have experience and expertise that should not be overlooked.