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ALWAYS BE PREPARED

ALWAYS BE PREPARED

 “Learn why you should always be prepared to make a presentation as an engineer”

By John D. Gaskell, Retired Consulting Engineer

Author of “The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.

In your consulting engineering career, you will be required to speak before both small and large groups. This reminds me of one of my less auspicious experiences as a public speaker.

On my first or second year in practice as a consulting engineer, I was hired to do a “light emissions” study. This was in conjunction with an environmental impact study, relating to the proposed expansion of a local airport. I don’t know if I was chosen because my resume included “Member of IES” or because I was too new to properly quote a fee for such an unusual assignment. In any case I visited the airport at night, under varying weather conditions and (with a light meter) measured the light produced from the approach lights. My final conclusion was that the amount of light was less than the light emitted by a “full moon” and therefore, had no significant impact on the environment. I submitted my report to the environmental firm that had hired me and it was accepted.

After about 6 months, the environmental firm called me and asked me to attend a Public Hearing at the City Hall to answer questions, if any. I re-read my report and with a copy I sat down in front with the other members of our team. The remaining 500 seats were occupied by very angry neighbors, with many more standing around the perimeter of the room. The head of the environmental firm was called to the podium and, after a few introductory remarks, said “And now I would like to call our electrical engineer, Jack Gaskell to the podium to present the Light Emissions portion of our report”. I considered running for the door, but I didn’t think I could make it down the center aisle.

I rose with wobbly legs and walked to the podium with my report in hand. When the heckling from the crowd quieted down a bit, I said: “I have to start out by apologizing; it was my understanding that I should be prepared to answer questions (if any) and therefore did not prepare a presentation. But I have a copy of my report and will paraphrase it for you”. I opened my report and stumbled through. When I was finished everyone BOOED and I took my seat. Even after all of these years, I still break out in a sweat when I think of that Public Hearing.

The lesson here is: Always be prepared to make a presentation.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. As a forensic engineer you should always be prepared to make a presentation.

Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights” of Forensic Engineering. Visit TheEngineersResource.com to find out more.

Learn how to be a forensic engineer. Learn how to be a forensic expert witness. How to be an engineering expert witness. How to obtain training as a forensic engineer. How to obtain training as an engineering expert witness.

 

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Who is John D. Gaskell?

John D. Gaskell is a retired Consulting Engineer who wishes to share his 35 years of experience with both young engineers thinking of starting their own practice and those old hands who wish to improve their results.

He has authored three new books:

Jack’s first book is: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING. In essence, his readers discover “step-by-step” how to start & manage an “outstanding” Engineering Practice and exactly how to gain a reputation as an expert in their specialty. This is both a handbook for new engineers and a constant reference manual for seasoned professionals.

His second book is: The “Outline Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING. It is a condensed and abridged summery of the detailed advice provided in the “Complete Guide”. It is intended for engineers looking for just the facts; without the stories and background. It is intended to be like the “Cliff’s Notes” version of the Complete Guide.

Jack’s third book is The CONSULTING ENGINEER’S “Guidebook” and is an excerpted and extended version of the “Complete Guide”. It is the result of requests from many readers to narrow the focus to the goals of:

  • Becoming an “outstanding” consulting engineer.
  • Gaining a reputation as an “expert” in their specialty; and
  • Obtaining the engineering “management skills” needed to advance their career and make the firm stand out from their competitors.

Go to Jack’s website: TheEngineersResource.com, use coupon code “paperback” and save.

He was President of Gaskell Associates Consulting Engineers; now a Division of Thielsch Engineering, Inc. Jack is a graduate of Wentworth Institute, with an Associate’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology, and the University of Rhode Island, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.

Jack was a member of the following professional organizations: Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers, Providence Engineering Society, Electrical League of Rhode Island, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, National Electromagnetic Field Testing Association and the National Academy of Forensic Engineers.

He is a past President of the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers and past President of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society, past Director of the Electrical League of Rhode Island and past Chairman of the Electrical Code Sub-Committee of the Rhode Island Building Code Standards Committee.

Jack was honored by being selected “Engineer of the Year” by the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers; “Man of the Year” by the Electrical League of Rhode Island; and “Freeman Award” recipient by the Providence Engineering Society for the purpose of recognizing major achievements in engineering.

He spends winters at his home in North Palm Beach, FL, enjoying the warm weather and loosing at the game of pool. Summers are spent at his home in Warwick, RI enjoying his children, grandchildren and many great friends.

Visit Jack’s website: TheEngineersResource.com, for great information and advice for consulting engineers.

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Operations-Manual for Engineers

operations manual

WHAT IS AN OPERATIONS MANUAL?

Your Operations Manual is the “Guidebook” to your engineering practice. It will be unique to your practice and, if thoughtfully prepared and well organized it will be the guide to your practice, Every Consulting Engineering firm needs an Operations-Manual for Engineers. Continue reading Operations-Manual for Engineers

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Business Plan for Engineers

INTRODUCTION

A consulting engineer’s Business Plan is the “structure” of your engineering practice, which precisely defines your company and identifies your goals.

It will organize your thoughts and will give you a “game plan”.

It will help you make a “go”/”no go”/ or “wait” decision.

It will help you in forecasting funding needs and securing “financing”. Continue reading Business Plan for Engineers

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PROMOTE BUSINESS WITH SPECIALIZED SERVICES

PROMOTE BUSINESS WITH SPECIALIZED SERVICES

A great method for Consulting Engineers to promote new business is to offer specialized services. The “specialized service” depends upon the type of engineering that you practice.

Our general specialty was the design of electrical systems for buildings. But, we had many sub-specialties which we enumerated in our company brochure: Lighting; Electrical Services; Power Distribution; Fire Alarm Systems; Emergency/Stand-by Power Systems; Uninterruptable Power Supply Systems, etc.

Look around for an opportunity to become an “expert” on a current topic and the chance to offer a new service, with little competition and unrestrained fees.

At various times in my career, as an electrical consulting engineer, I offered the following new services:

Electromagnetic Field Investigations & Mitigation

A number of years back EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields) were a “hot topic”. Many people became concerned that the electromagnetic fields emitted by low frequency (60 cycle) power sources might cause serious health concerns. People were especially apprehensive about their proximity to high voltage power lines. Some people changed to wind-up alarm clocks, rather than sleep with a small electric motor near their heads.

I bought a couple of “gauss” meters, took measurements and did some studying. Then, I wrote an article that was published in a national magazine. I identified and quantified the sources; I left the health issues to others. I became a member of the National Electromagnetic Field Testing Association. Later, I was a guest speaker at “The National Conference on Harmonics & Power Quality in Philadelphia, PA. I was the go-to-guy for Magnetic Field Projects.

In office buildings and in universities, computer screens were distorted due to proximity to power sources. In Data Centers computers were acting erratically for the same reason. My services would start with a study including measuring and mapping the fields, recommending solutions and estimating costs of mitigation. This was often followed by a design phase, bid phase, and construction observation phase. I didn’t have any competition and I was well paid for both my services and expertize.

Power Quality Services

Another “hot topic” was Power Quality. Basically, on a three-phase power system each of the phases are separated 120 degrees from each other which causes cancelation, resulting in very little neutral current. However, for computer loads, a “third harmonic current” can occur causing the neutral current to exceed the phase currents. I again was considered an “expert” and did quite a number of Power Quality Studies and most included preparation of 1-Line Diagrams on an hourly bases. Again: no competition; well paid.

Uninterruptable Power Systems (UPS)

A UPS is a device, consisting of a battery and an inverter to provide AC power to a load without interruption if commercial power fails. You can buy a small UPS at your local electronics store. You don’t need an engineer to design the installation; just plug your computer into it and no information is lost during a black-out.

However, systems for computer rooms are huge and complex and require engineering including paralleling of units, back-up generators, by-pass for uninterrupted maintenance, and complicated cooling. After a large installation, I wrote a magazine article titled: “UPS Installation at Bank Data Center is expandable to 5 Megawatts”. I was then considered, the Data Center/UPS expert.

Arc-Flash Calculations

More recently another “hot topic” called Arc-Flash became a concern. Since the days of Thomas Edison the largest electrical concern has been “Short-Circuits”; the high inrush of current when two opposite polarity electrical wires touch. A newer concern is “Arc-Flash”; the heat and flash associated with the same event. (“Google” Arc-Flash for some gruesome videos”).

I again became considered an “expert” and did quite a number of Arc-Flash Studies and most included preparation of 1-Line Diagrams, fault-current calculations and panel labeling, on an hourly bases. Again: no competition (at the time); and well paid.

Look around for an opportunity to become an “expert” on a current topic and the chance to offer a new service, with little competition and unrestrained fees.

Excerpted from The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING © 2015 John D. Gaskell. Used with permission of Professional Value Books, Inc. All rights reserved. Order at http://www.TheEngineersResource.com. Use coupon code “paperback” and save.

 

 

 

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The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING

The “Complete Guide” to Consulting Engineering

The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING

In essence, readers discover “step-by-step” how to start & manage an “outstanding” Engineering Practice and exactly how to gain a reputation as an expert in their specialty.

This is both a handbook for new engineers and a constant reference manual for seasoned professionals.

The book is divided into “five parts”: Preparation; Planning; Implementation; Managing; and Cashing Out.
PREPERATION includes:
• Selecting a collage. Make sure that it has the right accreditation to allow you take the Professional Engineering license exam. (ABET-EAC accredited)
• Take the FE exam. In your senior year at college, while the fundamentals of engineering are still fresh in your mind.
• Gain experience. A minimum of four (4) years of “certifiable” experience in engineering work.
• Join engineering societies. Become an officer; make contacts; gain credentials; and build a reputation in the industry.
PLANNING includes:
• Recognize opportunities. Buying an existing practice; starting upon another engineer’s retirement; becoming a partner in an existing firm; or hanging out your shingle.
• Consider ownership options. Carefully consider the pros & cons of being on your own verses having partners.
• Choose Specialties. Choosing between being a “single-discipline” or “multi-discipline” firm.
• Prepare a Business Plan. Learn how to write a “Business Plan” including how to estimate expenses & income for both start-up and your first year.
• Apply for a Business Loan. Discover the secrets to getting approved for a Business Loan
IMPLEMENTATION includes:
• Pre Start-up “Check List”. Once you have made the GO decision, find out the initial steps to take & things to avoid.
• Start-up “Check List”. Discover how to actually start your practice step-by-step.
MANAGING includes:
• Acquiring service. Learn how to select the right Attorney & CPA and obtain the insurance coverage needed.
• Marketing. Discover the marketing materials & methods that will keep your firm busy.
• Expert. Learn the secret of gaining a reputation as an “expert” by publishing technical articles.
• Fees. Uncover the mysteries of preparing winning & profitable fee proposals including the graphs & lists that make it easy.
• Forensic Engineering. Find out how to make this interesting & profitable litigation specialty part of your engineering practice.
CASHING OUT includes:
• Selling your firm. Learn how to sell your practice for the maximum profit and retire comfortably.

 

Specifications:

7″ x 10″ (17.78 x 25.4 cm)

Hardcover (Casewraped)
Black & White Bleed on White paper
316 pages

 

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The “Outline Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING

The “Outline Guide” to Consulting Engineering

The “Outline Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING

The “Outline Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING is a condensed and abridged summery of the detailed advice provided in the new book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING by John D. Gaskell, Retired Professional Engineer. In essence, readers discover “step-by-step” how to start & manage an “outstanding” Engineering Practice and exactly how to gain a reputation as an expert in their specialty.

This is both a concise handbook for new engineers and a constant reference manual for seasoned professionals.

The “Outline Guide” is the result of requests from many readers to narrow the focus to offer the “highlights” of the recommendations.

In addition, it is anticipated that companies which provide products or services to engineers will present this “Outline Guide” to engineers as a Premium-Gift to promote new business and to thank engineers for their past support.

If purchased in substantial quantities, a Special Edition named in honor of the sponsor could be printed: (Sponsor’s) “Outline Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING.

The book is divided into “five parts”: Preparation; Planning; Implementation; Managing; and Cashing Out.
PREPERATION includes:
• Selecting a collage. Make sure that it has the right accreditation to allow you take the Professional Engineering license exam. (ABET-EAC accredited)
• Take the FE exam. In your senior year at college, while the fundamentals of engineering are still fresh in your mind.
• Gain experience. A minimum of four (4) years of “certifiable” experience in engineering work.
• Join engineering societies. Become an officer; make contacts; gain credentials; and build a reputation in the industry.
PLANNING includes:
• Recognize opportunities. Buying an existing practice; starting upon another engineer’s retirement; becoming a partner in an existing firm; or hanging out your shingle.
• Consider ownership options. Carefully consider the pros & cons of being on your own verses having partners.
• Choose Specialties. Choosing between being a “single-discipline” or “multi-discipline” firm.
• Prepare a Business Plan. Learn how to write a “Business Plan” including how to estimate expenses & income for both start-up and your first year.
• Apply for a Business Loan. Discover the secrets to getting approved for a Business Loan
IMPLEMENTATION includes:
• Pre Start-up “Check List”. Once you have made the GO decision, find out the initial steps to take & things to avoid.
• Start-up “Check List”. Discover how to actually start your practice step-by-step.
MANAGING includes:
• Acquiring service. Learn how to select the right Attorney & CPA and obtain the insurance coverage needed.
• Marketing. Discover the marketing materials & methods that will keep your firm busy.
• Expert. Learn the secret of gaining a reputation as an “expert” by publishing technical articles.
• Fees. Uncover the mysteries of preparing winning & profitable fee proposals including the graphs & lists that make it easy.
• Forensic Engineering. Find out how to make this interesting & profitable litigation specialty part of your engineering practice.
CASHING OUT includes:
• Selling your firm. Learn how to sell your practice for the maximum profit and retire comfortably.
John D. Gaskell, Retired Professional Engineer

TheEngineersResource.com and ProfessionalValueBooks.com

 

 

 

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WHAT IS CONSULTING ENGINEERING?

“WHAT IS CONSULTING ENGINEERING?”

Read it here or experience it on YouTube

 

“Consulting engineers are individuals who, because of training in one or more engineering specialties, are licensed professional engineers in private practice”. They serve private and public clients in ways ranging from brief consultations to complete design and coordination of projects.

 

DO YOU WANT TO BE A “CONSULTING ENGINEER”?

Benefits

Interesting Work – Each project is unique with specific requirements, existing conditions, options and cost constraints.

Participation in all aspects – You create (your engineering specialty) of a project, from the study through design, approvals, bidding, shop drawings, and construction observations.

Not stuck behind a desk – Some of your day will be made up of: meetings with clients, vendors, colleagues, utility companies, contractors and others; field investigation; and job site observations.

Drawbacks

You are in an adversarial position – Your oversight of a project is to make sure that the owner gets the equivalent of what you specified. The contractor typically wants you to accept an inferior product; your client expects you to protect the building owner’s interest and the owner often wants better than what you specified.

The Construction Industry is “cyclical” – If you’re good at your job, you will usually be working. But, if a recession is too deep or lasts too long, you may find yourself unemployed.

Dead-line Pressure – Deadlines are constantly changing and often there are multiple projects pressing you for attention. Overtime and sorting-out the top priorities can be stressful.

Profitably Pressure – Everyone in business is driven by a profit motive; even consulting engineering firms. No matter how good that you are at your job, if you can’t make a profit for the company, you will not last.

Too Much Work – Consulting engineering firms are reluctant to turn-down projects because they can never tell when current projects will be delayed and they may have spent a year or more waiting for a project that suddenly gets the go-ahead. That creates more stress for you.

Too Little Work – Conversely too little work is even more stressful; it almost never seems like the work load is steady.

You’re the “bad guy” – During construction, the owner sees you occasionally, but usually sees the contractor every day and friendships are formed. Before you know it, in protecting the owner’s interest, you are being too hard on his friend.

 

Conclusion

Becoming a consulting engineer was one of the best decisions that I ever made. I had a different adventure every day. I hope that you will find a career as a Consulting Engineer as satisfying and fulfilling as I did.

To learn about consulting engineering read The CONSULTING ENGINEER’S “Guidebook”.  Go to http://www.TheEngineersResource.com.

 

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MARKETING TIPS FOR ENGINEERS

MARKETING TIPS FOR ENGINEERS

  • Obtain E & O Insurance. When starting an engineering practice, Consulting Engineers should not “Stamp” (Seal) any documents until you have Professional Liability Insurance (Errors & Omissions). Remember this and the following marketing tips for engineers.
  • Seek clients & projects. First re-contact the potential clients that you visited when preparing your Business Plan.
  • Expand your sources for leads. Include those on your contact list; consulting engineers of a different specialty; land surveyors; building inspectors; and utility company representatives. Also, search the Internet; and newspapers.
  • Seek Private Clients. Include contractors of your specialty; housing authorities; hospitals; colleges & universities; federal, state & city agencies; property managers; manufacturers; developers; banks; and law firms.
  • Offer new Specialty Services. There is usually no competition for specialty services and no limitation on fees. Examples (related to electrical) include: EMF investigation & mitigation; Power Quality studies & monitoring; UPS Systems; and Arc-Flash calculations.
  • Always consider Public Speaking opportunities. This is especially important when you are trying to promote a new service or new specialty. Also hold seminars each time that the code of your discipline is updated. This shows clients that you are keeping up-to-date and gives you the opportunity to nurture your friendship with their tradesmen.
  • Entertain clients & potential clients. If a problem occurs with the services of your firm, clients are more likely to tell you and allow you to make corrections, if they knows you and your spouse socially. They are also more likely to give the next project to a “friend”.
  • Send Notes. Never forget to send thank you notes and look for opportunities to send notes of congratulation. You don’t even need to know someone to recognize their achievements.
  • Open Houses and Parties. These are great ways to thank your clients, show off your celebrity clients and to tell all about new specialties and exciting projects.

Excerpted from The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING © 2015 John D. Gaskell. Used with permission of Professional Value Books, Inc. All rights reserved. Order at http://www.TheEngineersResource.com. Use coupon code “paperback” and save.