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SEI Colorado Chapter Survey, Goal-Setting, and Long-Term Planning

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Colorado SEI Chapter is still rather young, so things only kicked off approximately 5 years ago. After things were up and running, the next objective was to determine a) what do the members want to get out of being an SEI Colorado member, b) what is leadership doing now that should change, and c) what things can be implemented to address the needs of the members and expand the Chapter's presence/service to the engineering community. To avoid doing too much too quickly (and causing burnout), the leadership team decided to form a 5-year strategic plan for SEI Colorado to have concrete goals to meet.

Aimee Corn took charge of this by creating a comprehensive survey (approximately 20-30 minutes to complete) to figure out exactly what the members think, need, and want. These questions aimed to have a better understanding in the following areas:

  • Demographic Information (i.e., age, PE status, types of projects they work on, years in the industry)
  • Technical Presentations and Newsletter (i.e., do they attend the technical presentations, why or why not, what would they be willing to pay for meetings, how would they rate the newsletter, do they share it with coworkers)
  • Conferences and Committees (i.e., have they been to Structures Congress, what other conferences do they attend)
  • Fellows and Outreach (i.e., are they interested in becoming an SEI Fellow, do they know the process involved to become an SEI Fellow, what type of outreach activities would interest them)
  • Tours (i.e., tour recommendations, how long of a tour are they interested in)
  • Benefits (i.e., perceived benefits of being an SEI Colorado member, what benefits do they want)
  • Miscellaneous (i.e., ask if people would be interested in presenting and on what, any additional comments they would like the share with the leadership team)

One of the most difficult and daunting tasks in this process is often finding a way the pour through the data without overwhelming everyone involved. When the survey was completed, Aimee broke the data down and created easy-to-digest charts for the leadership team to discuss. The team dedicated a Friday for a strategic planning meeting to go over all the data, discuss where leadership and members wanted SEI to go, and create a 5-year list of goals. After sifting through the feedback, a few trends began to surface which resulted in the following goals for 2022:

  • Focus presentations on infrastructure to provide a different niche than SEAC and ASCE.
  • Increase the number of SEI Fellows in Colorado.
  • Reach out to other areas of the state to get them involved.
  • Create an effective presentations seminar/workshop.
  • Create a teacher mini-grant program to engage non-STEM students in engineering early.
  • Win the Chapter of the Year Award.

The long-term planning and goal-setting was extremely beneficial. By going through this process as a group, everyone was on the same page moving forward. It allowed the leadership team to see what things needed to change, exposed areas of interested to start new initiatives, and identified items that were less effective and could be stopped. The long-term plan gave the leadership team a direction and helped push the Chapter to the next level. All the goals that were set have proven to take quite a bit of work, and things haven't all gone according to plan, but who doesn't like a good challenge? 

By Eric Herbert, P.E., M.ASCE, SEI Colorado Chapter Chair

Connect with local SEI Chapters and Grad Student Chapters at www.asce.org/SEILocal