by Strauder Patton, P.E.
NSBE graduates about 2,500 students nationally on a yearly basis yet only a small percentage of these first year graduates are active and identify themselves with a local NSBE AE chapter. In addition, the largest drop-off of members we fail to retain is the zero to five year segment. There are some reasons why many of our young professional members are not continuing with their membership: after college they lose interest in NSBE, they are burnt out from their collegiate duties, there is no apparent value to be an Alumni member or they are not encouraged nor informed about joining after graduation. As our Society’s programs grow and our initiatives become greater, we need more national and local professional members to support our mission. These young professional members will one day be the core of Society, as a result; we need to ensure they receive attention and provide them with the essentials to improve their engagement level.
To get a better perspective on this area, in July I went to visit the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) World Headquarters in Reston, VA and met with the ASCE Executive Director, Pat Natale, P.E.
National AE Chairperson, Strauder Patton shares an industry discussion with
ASCE Executive Director, Pat Natale, P.E.
ASCE is one the largest, premier professional engineering societies with over 150,000 members across the world. We discussed the state of our professional societies and sharing best practices between ASCE and NSBE. Pat expressed that ASCE also has experienced challenges in retaining their young professional members. It is a common theme across the boards among national and local chapters for engineering societies. According to Pat, there needs to be a specific focus and attention on your programming when engaging the young professionals.
This year NSBE is offering more content directed specifically to our Young Technical Professionals focused where these members can get the value of being a new Alumni member. These members will get an opportunity to get mentoring, get career advice, and network with fellow young professionals at NSBE events. Ask a Technical Professional (A2TP) is a new NSBE forum where members can submit a question to more experienced members. In addition, at our NSBE Annual Convention in Pittsburgh in March 2012 there will be specific events and workshops focused on the young professional track. Visit www.nsbe-ae.org for more information on NSBE Young Technical Professionals. Keeping the young professional members engaged is just as important from a local Alumni chapter standpoint. Make sure that you get your new members connected immediately as volunteers. Give them meaningful, interesting assignments that will encourage their participation level. Increase your chapter’s visibility with the local NSBE student chapters. For more information about NSBE offerings for our young professionals contact our National AE Membership Chair, Dr. Shannon Grady at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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