Editor's viewpoint

Have you noticed the expanding sphere of influence wielded by today's consulting engineers? Actually, many firms report that they are in a period of great change, as they watch their firms and their professional peers evolve.

11/01/2000


Have you noticed the expanding sphere of influence wielded by today's consulting engineers? Actually, many firms report that they are in a period of great change, as they watch their firms and their professional peers evolve.

What many engineering companies are finding today is that their traditional role as a subcontracted design consultant is increasingly competitive and less profitable than ever. So, many leading engineering and architecture/engineering firms are moving into supplemental services, consulting in areas that are needed by their clients but that were not associated with the M/E engineering firm as recently as a few years ago. Here's a sampling of these new offerings:

  • clients in areas and states that are deregulating utility service or that are experiencing seasonal shortages of power and fuel supplies.

Strategic real estate decisions are often based on complex analyses of numerous variables, such as transportation, site costs, utility rates and operational costs. Many engineering firms are finding that they are better at doing this than many of their commercial and industrial clients, because it's the engineer's business. The client may be expert at its specialties, but P.E.s spend their days (and the occasional night) thinking about nothing but buildings and building systems.

 

  • analyses, indoor-air-quality assessments and even outsourced facility management.

Where this new menu of offering may end-or should end-is anyone's guess. But in the meantime, this diversification demonstrates how the role of consultants is defined more by clients' needs and their providers' creativity than it is by the traditional spheres inhabited by owners, designers and builders.





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