First off, I want to convey my appreciation to the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) Board of Directors for electing me to the position of Chairman of the Board. It is truly an honor, and I look forward to serving this great Association and its members during my term as Chairman.
In past articles, we have discussed making changes to the Association to continue our relevance into the 21st century. However, have we considered what is also needed to continue to make the electrical inspector relevant into the 21st century? We will likely always continue to have electrical power grids, distribution systems, communications systems, branch circuits, connections to electrical equipment, and wiring devices. With the rapid advancement of innovation in the electrical field, new areas of technology will need to be considered to ensure the electrical safety of the consumers and workforce.
With new areas such as functional safety, cybersecurity, interoperability, robotics, and artificial intelligence—either already here or making their way into our everyday lives—the electrical inspector will need to be prepared to address these innovations as they relate to electrical safety on both the consumer and the industry sides. As they eventually become regulated, it will be critical for a close and active collaboration with industry; codes and standards developers; and testing, inspection, and certification organizations to keep up with the advancing technology.
Another area I want to mention that is critical to our Association is mentoring. When I speak to many of our Board members or IAEI members, there is a common theme of advancement through mentoring. Relating to my own experiences, when I started as an apprentice electrician, I was fortunate to be able to work for individuals who were strong mentors. Although they may not have referred to themselves as mentors at the time, mentoring is exactly what they were doing. This continued on even after I became a journeyman as our field is ever evolving. Following my short career as an electrician, I decided to go back to school to become an electrical engineer. As I entered this area, again I was fortunate to work for individuals who would be considered strong mentors. Even when I entered into subsequent careers as a Chief Electrical Inspector and now working for CSA Group, I have always been surrounded by mentors who have helped me enormously in my career advancement. They aided in my success, encouraging me to be involved in IAEI at chapter, section, and international levels, on codes and standards committees, and in other national and international organizations. I just hope I can continue the tradition and pay it forward.
Mentoring typically is not something that people are told to do. True mentors are individuals who do this naturally, and they want to do it. You never know, sometimes the mentee can bring new thoughts and ideas to the table and mentor the mentor, so to speak. Mentoring can build strong and lasting relationships and, from my experiences, many of my mentors have become my closest friends, even after we’d gone off in different directions. So, I encourage all of our members to take up the challenge of mentoring if given the opportunity. It can be a rewarding experience for both the mentor and the mentee and will make our Association even stronger.
Shawn Paulsen, P.Eng, is the International Association of Electrical Inspectors 2019 Chairman of the International Board.