What are PFAS?

The acronym, PFAS, stands for poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are a complex group of nearly 4,000 man-made fluorinated organic chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products. Some of the more common PFAS chemicals are PFOS, PFOA and PFNA. The chemicals were first synthesized in the 1930s and their first major use was in Teflon® cookware. PFAS are “forever” chemicals that will not breakdown in the environment. Due to extensive use and environmental stability, PFAS contamination is widespread. PFAS can be found in blood samples from virtually all humans and is frequently detected in groundwater, surface water systems, and drinking water supplies.

What products can PFAS be found in?

PFAS can be found in:

The effects of PFAS

In the body, PFAS primarily settle into the blood, kidney, and liver. With such widespread exposure to PFAS, it’s no surprise that PFAS chemicals are detected in the blood of up to 98% of the US population. Research continues to grow on the effects of PFAS. Adverse health effects of PFAS include:

What’s being done

One big way we can limit our exposure to PFAS is by taking control of our drinking water. In 2018, New Jersey became the first state to establish an enforceable drinking water regulatory limit for a specific PFAS chemical (PFNA). In addition, on June 1, 2020, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) officially published its adoption of enforceable

maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for two other specific PFAS chemicals (PFOA & PFOS). Quarterly monitoring of public water systems has begun for PFNA. Monitoring by all community and non-transient non-community water systems to start in the 1st quarter of 2021 for PFOA & PFOS. PFAS compounds will be added to the NJ Private Well Testing Act.

Read T&M Associates’ PFAS fact sheet to learn more >>

How Autonomous Vehicles are Impacting the Engineering Industry

As autonomous vehicles (AVs) grow in popularity and become more accessible to the public, how will the engineering industry be affected? Under state licensure laws and rules, professional engineers have a responsibility for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. AVs are still a fairly new concept, so there are still many unanswered questions and uncertainties. 

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) released a Public Regulatory Policy Guide to offer a starting point for adopting standards that protect public safety. NSPE’s stance on the matter of autonomous vehicles is that a professional engineer is the best person to have to carry out the testing and risk assessments that are necessary for public safety. They also seek to answer questions about how the technology can be developed to use existing roadways rather than dedicated AV lanes. In an ideal world, AVs and regular vehicles would be able to cohabitate the roads with ease, but it’s not that simple. Civil engineers will need to rethink infrastructure and road design to accommodate for the growing technology.

When it comes to roadway design, the current roads are designed wider than the average vehicle width to account for human error and distraction while driving. With autonomous vehicles, there is no room for human error, they will always stay the course even in a more narrow lane. If more narrow lanes are to be created, the extra space could be repurposed for a number of things, like a pedestrian lane or even a whole vehicle lane. Additionally, there would be less need for roadway safety measures like guard rails, wide shoulders, and rumble strips. 

Another aspect of infrastructure that would have to be reconsidered is intersections. In a completely AV world, the need for traffic signals would be obsolete. The vehicles would be able to successfully communicate with each other to calculate vehicle speed and different routes to pass through an intersection with ease, and of course, no accidents. The world of 100 percent autonomous vehicles is a long way off, so in the meantime, engineers are tasked with figuring out what must change to accommodate the mix of standard vehicles and AVs.

The market of autonomous vehicles is projected to grow by billions of dollars in just the next few years! Due to the surge in growth, this era is creating new concentrations for engineers to become specialized in and it’s creating thousands of new jobs. Positions like safety testers of autonomous vehicles, computer scientists, AI specialists, civil engineers for roadway design, and much more. 

Stay up-to-date on the topic of autonomous vehicle engineering at nspe.org.

Resources to Kickstart Your Engineering Career

If you’re still in college and want to get your foot in the door of the engineering industry, you’ve come to the right place! Taking advantage of the resources available to you now will really show initiative and might even score you your dream job. From resume writing to building your network, NJSPE is here to help you kickstart your engineering career. Here are a few resources you can use to put yourself out there and maximize your chances of getting hired.

Free NJSPE membership

While you’re in college, one of the most valuable things you can do for your future is to join a professional engineering society. NSPE and state chapter memberships are absolutely FREE for college students who are enrolled in an ABET-accredited engineering program. As an NJSPE member, you’ll have access to free on-demand courses that will help you navigate your career.

Write a killer resume

When you’re submitting your resume into a pool of hundreds of others, it’s important to stand out with a killer resume. As an engineer, it’s a good rule of thumb to emphasize your technical engineering skills and utilize keywords in your resume from the job posting (yes, this means that you should be tweaking your resume for every job you apply for). Check out these resume writing tips and examples to follow.

Follow NSPE Engineering Jobs on Twitter

If you’re ready to start your job search, a great place to start looking for brand new opportunities is on NSPE’s Engineering Jobs Twitter account. They typically post jobs multiple times a day throughout the week and on Twitter, you can easily turn on notifications so you’re the first to know about new updates. If you’re looking for jobs in New Jersey, you can also follow NJSPE’s job board. When you create an account, you’ll be able to turn on job notifications that match your preferences!

Join a student NSPE chapter

A great way to get your foot in the door of the engineering world is to join the student NSPE chapter at your school. If you’re not sure if your school offers it, check out this list of available chapters. If you don’t see your school on the list, you can learn how to establish a student chapter at your school! Student chapters are a good place to start creating connections and can give you the opportunity to get and share career advice with your peers.

Build your network

Engineers and networking might not seem like the most likely pair, but just like any other job industry, relationships are key! Putting yourself out there to meet engineers that are in all different stages of their career journey can really help to give you insight on how to navigate the profession. Additionally, a valuable connection could even help you get hired in the future. Check out this blog post on how to build your professional network as an engineer.

We hope you’ll be able to use some or all of these resources to kickstart your engineering career! Join NJSPE today to get started.

Connect With Us