The Electrical Worker online
April 2015

From the Officers
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Tomorrow is Here

Sit in on a lecture at your local community college, and some students will be taking handwritten notes, just as their parents did 30 years ago. Other students, however, will be tapping styluses or keyboards on their electronic notebooks. Modern technologies enable them to more easily organize their notes when they get home, deleting duplications and inserting headings.

Successful learning can take place using both methods. But pen and paper is yesterday's technology. The iPad is where things are headed.

Electrical construction inhabits a similar technological mix from yesterday, today and tomorrow, moving beyond the world of hard copy blueprints and extensive assembly on the job site.

Prefabrication in climate-controlled facilities and the spread of building information modeling where drawings can be manipulated on an electronic tablet right on the job site are where the industry is going.

Competition is ratcheting up as more electrical contractors, union and nonunion, invest in these technologies and methods to lower project completion times and save money. To stay in the game, every contractor and every local union will need to devise their own strategies to adapt to these quickly developing changes.

One of the unique aspects of our union's cornerstone industry is the close relationship between signatory employers and our members. In so many other industries, employers view new technologies as a means to weaken a union's influence, a way to replace dues-paying members with others from outside our ranks and culture.

Yet here, in electrical construction, some of our leading contractors are making an investment in training members for new positions that merge their on-the-job savvy and experience with the latest generation of computer-aided design.

Listen to their voices in this issue of the Electrical Worker. These contractors say not only is their investment paying off, they want more members to step up and train to design tomorrow's buildings.

I am heartened by the NECA-IBEW collaboration with Autodesk to more affordably supply software to train members in BIM. This program truly demonstrates the Electrical Training Alliance, formerly the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, is more than a new name. It's a new partnership that is aggressively training our members in the latest technologies they need to succeed.

But tools are only as good as those who use them. Forward-looking local unions will jump on BIM training, help harness prefabrication techniques and work with our signatory contractors to move our industry into tomorrow.


Also: Chilia: A Shrunken Dream Read Chilia's Column

Edwin D. Hill

Edwin D. Hill
International President