From The Editor: Professional Consciousness

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As we enter 2015 it looks like the world economy is going to be experiencing much lower oil prices. It would seem that this should be a net benefit, but there are certainly those in the energy business that would firmly disagree. One idea that seems to even have some Republican support is raising the gas tax. This is badly needed and the perfect time to increase it for a number of reasons, including environmental, assuming the funds go to repair infrastructure, but I would not hold my breath–it’s too logical.

Everyone that I speak with tells me they are very busy. No doubt this is the result of a better economy here in the U.S., but I believe the increase in demand for 3D goods and services is happening worldwide. We are starting to see the interest in 3D move from the early adopters to the mass market where there is a much larger pool of potential customers. It’s a great place to be for those firms who have been paying their dues the past five to ten plus years and no, I don’t think it’s too late to get in, but you will need to hire some experienced talent in order to compete.

Speaking of large groups, the use of LiDAR was front and center in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January with all of the leading car manufacturers showing off their driverless vehicles and collision avoidance systems. Before you know it the soccer moms will be using the term LiDAR like they do GPS. They don’t know how it works, but that’s what it takes to be successful in the consumer space. I would not look for any of the current scanner manufacturers to become a player in this huge market with the possible exception of Velodyne.

David Hall, this month’s Industry Pioneer and founder of Velodyne has been focused on this market for the past 10 years. When I asked Olla Rollen, Hexagon CEO about going after the consumer market he responded by asking me if I was aware of the margins in the automobile industry. Having sold millions of acoustic speakers to consumers Hall certainly knows what it will take to succeed. I wouldn’t bet against him.

As we enter the New Year I thought it might be an appropriate time to mention that adoption of the ASTM E57 data exchange standard has been continuing its steady pace. The open source website now has over 35 companies listed, including all of the major vendors that have notified us that they are supporting the standard and we believe there are many more that are using it. I see an increasing number of references to the standard in many technical articles and presentations.

Now that the market has spoken the subcommittee believes it is time to focus attention on taking advantage of the ability to create extensions to E57 that can be used to customize and improve specific 3D applications such as mobile LiDAR and historic preservation. Stan Coleby, a long time member of the subcommittee has recently been working on a number of extensions to support specific mobile LiDAR workflows and Ken Van Bree has formed a working group that is focused on long term data archiving and compression. If you have an interest in extending the standard to better meet your needs please contact us via the website.

John Russo at the USIBD tells me they have been getting great press coverage and downloads of their recently announced Building Documentation Standards/Specifications documents including an article in the AEC bible ENR (Engineering News Record). This organization is making steady progress and as mentioned previously they deserve much greater support from the industry.

This leads me to my final topic–professional consciousness. I thought I might have been the first to use this term, but as per usual a quick search reveals that’s not true. In fact you can get a certificate in "Professional Consciousness Coaching," but in this case the "professional" term is being used to denote someone who has been trained in the field of coaching individuals to be more self-aware, or conscious of their actions–a professional vs. an amateur.

My use of the term is to focus attention on becoming conscious of one’s profession and more importantly, becoming proactive about supporting that profession. Actually, the two are somewhat similar when you think about it as the goal is to raise and recognize the status of the individual.

The reason I bring this up is because I don’t think most of us are doing enough to support professional organizations, such as the USIBD and the ASPRS. Professional organizations seem to have lost their appeal. In particular, I am very concerned that young people do not seem to be finding the benefits of joining professional societies. Having three children in this generation I have been asking them questions about what it would take for them to be willing to pay the dues and join a professional organization. It’s a tough sell.

Are the Millennials, as they are sometimes called really that different? Is it because of online, social networks that offer much more personal contact and interaction with peers that previously was found by joining a professional organization? Or are the professional organizations not doing enough to attract young members?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that attracting the younger generation to professional organizations is the key to their future. With the baby boomers retiring in large numbers and in some cases not having to pay dues any longer to still have access to member benefits without new members signing up these organizations are going to find themselves in trouble.

I believe we all have a moral obligation to encourage young people to join a professional society and further to mentor that person in how to take advantage of being a member. I would like to make that a challenge. I would like everyone to consider joining a USIBD, ASPRS, ASTM, NSPS or ASCE if you are not a member and to also identify one young person in your organization that you encourage to join and then mentor.

Have your organization take the position that active membership (1 to 2 hours per week) is important to their career and the success of the group they work for. We all need to give back, not just take.

Gene Roe, LS, PE, PhD Managing Editor & Co-Founder LiDAR News Magazine.

A 595Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE