Ideas and Challenges

In last month's column we looked at a few highlights of the history of technical activities, from the grass roots proposals that eventually became important technical standards, to the termination of the SpecGUIDE program that resulted in the present lack of technical spirit. Many of the common complaints in the past few years have to do with the apparent death of the chapter technical committee, and what appears to be a lack of technical focus throughout the organization. As a result, one of TechCom's charges is to help revitalize the technical activity that has been such an important part of CSI. To meet this charge, TechCom set a few basic goals:

  • To help chapters and regions engage in worthwhile technical activities on their own initiative, rather than rely on direction from Institute.

  • To actively involve chapters and regions in the development and review of updates to CSI documents.

  • To expand the definition of "technical" from its traditional meaning of constructing and organizing text documents, to include the organizing and processing of electronic information, thereby opening a wide range of new possible technical activities.

The outcome was a list of "Ideas and Challenges" for region and chapter technical committees. It is important to note that these are not make-work pastimes; they are serious proposals that can have an impact beyond the chapter. In this and following columns we'll look at some of the items from that list.

Ideas and Challenges

The first group of suggestions comes from the expanded definition of "technical". By including the organization and use of electronic data, we remove the barrier that seemed to limit previous work to text-based documents.

  1. Encourage regions and chapters to investigate needs related to processing electronic information, to develop solutions for those problems, and to share their results with other chapters and regions.

  2. Ask members how they have solved computer and data processing problems. Examples include styles and templates for word processing, sophisticated macros or utilities for word processing or CAD, and electronic forms.

  3. Anticipate the consequences of the growing power of CAD programs. How will the construction industry change if drawings can automatically produce material quantities, cost estimates, and specifications? What will the role of the specifier be?

Has anyone in your chapter come up with ways to make it easier to process or use information, in either text or electronic format? Have you created a form that works? Do you have ways to improve coordination of documents? Have you found a way to increase productivity or reduce errors? If it's useful to you, it will probably be useful to other members, as well, so don't keep it a secret - tell your chapter and region technical chairs what you have done.

2003 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA

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Material from CSI Chapter newsletters used with permission.