ASQ’s president, Greg Watson, speaks eloquently of the duel nature of the American Society for Quality. On the one hand, the society is a community of practice, where quality professionals in a region or a particular industry share their experiences and perspectives, either in a local section or an industry-specific division. On the other hand, ASQ provides many centers of excellence for building and sharing the body of knowledge in specific areas, such as auditing, quality management, and statistics.
The Energy and Environmental Division is a unique division in that it offers both features to its members. On the one hand, we are a community of quality, environmental, and health and safety practitioners in the energy industries. Our historical roots are in power production and in operation of the vast Department of Energy facilities. However, the energy industry, in both the private and government sectors, was way ahead of other industries in focusing on environmental issues, and our members blazed the trail in developing the concepts and body of knowledge in integrating quality and environmental management systems. As a result, we are a center of excellence in ISO 14000, environmental management systems, and integration of 9000 series standards with ISO 14000. We continue to exist as a community of practice for those who work in the energy industry (including DOE) and have created a community of practice for those who work on major environmental projects, such as site remediation and restoration, chemical de-militarization, and the special issues related to analytical laboratories.
One challenge for the division is that we are small in size and spread out all around the world. The energy sector has downsized in both the private and government areas. EED continues to work to find new and better ways to add value to the evolving membership. The first big change was in building a Web site and migrating to an electronic magazine, which has provided better access to more information for our members.
We have expanded the Web site to provide you, our members, with the ability to post information about yourselves and to post employment information that would be of interest to our members. As revenues allow, we will continue to expand the Web site, adding technical papers and putting the division’s procedures on the site to make it easier for people to step into leadership roles.
We are now exploring the options for establishing asynchronous threaded discussion groups on technical topics for our members. This will enable members in specific sectors, such as power generation or analytical labs, to have a site for asking questions, discussing issues, sharing information, and exchanging viewpoints.
In the future, EED, like many professional societies, will sponsor virtual conferences. Members will be able to log onto a conference site from their office or home and listen to presentations on streaming video, download technical papers, and engage in synchronous technical discussions. They will be able to visit Web site links provided by vendors and walk around the conference site as an avatar (an image that appears on the computer screen to represent a person) and bump into the avatars of colleagues from around the world and chat with them. You can visit http://www.digitalspace.com to get a feel for the emerging virtual conference technology.
Our goal is to continue to add value to our members as both a community of practice and a center of excellence.