By Danny Cohen, RMA Group
CalGeo President 2013-2014
After nearly a decade on the Board of Directors of CalGeo, it is with great pleasure that I finally step up to the position of President. I am following in the footsteps of many great engineers and geologists who have held this position before me and I can only hope that I can accomplish some of the goals we have been working on during the past decade. I want to thank my current board members in advance for the hard work they are going to do this year, because by the end of the year they may no longer be talking to me, so thanks gentlemen, for a wonderful year to come.
As always we have a lot on our plate, but the main task for the upcoming year must be increasing our membership. As some of you are aware, we recently lost the funding that had been provided to our organization for the past several years from SCIF, so in order to keep CalGeo relevant, we must supplement those lost funds with memberships from both regular and affiliate members. We have been discussing this goal for many years now but have not come up with a way to really boost our membership numbers, mainly because we were also trying to do too many other things at the same time. This year we are going to shift our focus to increasing membership. If that is successful, all the other things we want to accomplish, such as being able to provide better services, more regional dinner meetings with a wider variety of speakers and topics, having a stronger voice in the engineering community, and being able to influence decisions made at the state and local levels, will all follow.
With each new year, we always greet one or two new board members and realign the positions on the various committees. This year we welcomed Rob Fingerson from Holdrege and Kull and Neal Berliner from Geocon. What we really need is for you, the membership, to get involved and participate on the committees. This is your organization, not just the twelve board members. Our committees include Business Factors (salary survey); Communications (the E-Geo/Website); Gov't. Practices/Legislation (lobbying); Membership/Marketing (recruiting members); Outstanding Projects Awards (judging OPA submittals); Professional Affiliations (networking); Programs (annual conference and regional meetings); Student Outreach (student chapters); Technical Advisory (research subject); Technician Affairs/Safety (Loss Prevention Seminar). Any member interested in participating on a committee please contact Marsha Myers.
I also want to mention that I recently attended the UCLA CalGeo Student Chapter and Geo-Institute Graduate Student Organization 5th Annual Geo-Expo and I was amazed not only at the level of research these students are involved in, but also at the sophistication that these young men and women exhibit. It is wonderful to see such devout interest in the field of geotechnical engineering, particularly at a time when we find ourselves challenged to be recognized as an integral part of the design team on most projects of significance.
Seeing these students interact with other students, academics and working professionals gives hope that our profession has a very bright future. We still have an uphill battle to fight in order to become and to stay relevant. The fight against commoditization of our industry is very real and very difficult to overcome. I have had discussions with many other geoprofessionals during my tenure on the board and it is apparent that we not only have to do a better job at developing and maintaining relationships with our existing and future clients, but we also have to be better at protecting the interests of our profession and not succumb to the pressure of looking only at the profit margin.