In 2020, we saw an unbelievable series of dreadful events. A worldwide pandemic has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the US, and over two million worldwide. Sadly, the pandemic has touched some of our colleague’s families directly, and the death toll continues to climb. The pandemic also crushed our high-flying economy, putting millions out of work. Hopes of a quick recovery have dwindled. We’ve also had widespread protests and riots sparked by police killings, a variety of natural catastrophes and massive wildfires, and a widening of our political divisions to the extent that most of us would never have imagined. On top of these difficulties, over the remainder of the year we will experience perhaps the most contested presidential election of our lifetimes.
On the bright side, I’m proud to say that our profession has clearly been a positive force throughout all this. Our essential businesses have helped keep our transportation systems, buildings, power, water, sewer, communications, and other infrastructure functional and safe. Our firms reacted quickly and decisively at the outbreak of the pandemic to implement safety protocols so our staff could continue to support our client’s needs and keep high priority projects going. We shifted most of our staff to working remotely with little to no interruption in our services or productivity. In many instances, we also helped our clients take advantage of the light road and rail traffic to accelerate important repairs and upgrades. We helped cities and towns implement “COVID lanes” to allow social distancing and support the increased use of the pedestrian and bike ways. Our firms are also improving HVAC systems and helping implement touchless technology and many other solutions aimed at stopping the spread.
As we look towards the recovery, it’s clear that the engineering profession will play an important role. Even though our industry is facing unprecedented uncertainty as many of our clients deal with massive revenue losses, there is good reason to expect that federal stimulus money will be poured into much-needed infrastructure improvements to spur economic recovery.
ACEC has been supporting us all along, both nationally and locally, with briefings on topics ranging from safety practices to human resource issues, and how to deal with the legal and tax implications of remote work. ACEC will also be a strong voice advocating for infrastructure investments.
ACEC/MA established goals for 2020-2021, and as usual, we’ve done this with ACEC’s core mission in mind, and with due regard to the ACEC National goals. However, current events have certainly shaped our thinking, as well. Our ACEC/MA goals are:
The pandemic has changed how we do things, but it’s not stopping us. ACEC/MA is moving full speed ahead to organize events and learning opportunities through our various business and client sector committees. We’re are also fully engaged in legislative advocacy to protect the interests of our member firms. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of our programs or join one of our committees if you haven’t already.
Finally, the leadership of ACEC/MA is constantly asking the question: what can we do to help our members? If you’ve got a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you.
Dennis Baker, PE, is the 2020-20201 ACEC/MA President and Vice President, New England Area Manager at WSP.
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