Education Sessions


More education sessions will be added as they are confirmed - please check back for updates to the schedule!


Monday, April 26


1:15 pm-2:00 pm

Transitioning to a Remote Hybrid Firm

Jim Jacobi, Walter P Moore

As the world prepares to emerge from the impacts of the COVID 19, some firms are rethinking the way they will work post pandemic, including having a much larger contingent of employees working from home on a more regular basis. This session will explore issues that should be addressed in order to ensure a successful transition to the new working environment. Considerations for changes to employee policies, office configurations, work from home technology, innovative internal and external collaboration strategies and others will be discussed.


Risk Management Essentials of the New Normal

Andrew Mendelson & Diane Mika, Berkley Design Professional

Design firms face risk every day that should be proactively managed. The shifting environment in the AEC industry due to the pandemic has caused the need for engineers to implement risk management fundamentals even more diligently in order to demonstrate and fulfill its duties in accordance with the professional standard of care. This workshop reemphasizes key risk management basics and promotes new tactics in contracts, communication/documentation, post-COVID design issues, remote team management, and project delivery.


“Is Your Water Cyber Safe?”  Lessons from the Oldsmar Water Utility Hack; and a tool for control system Verification and Validation Assuring Reliability and Security

Chris Walcutt, DirectDefence; Jessica Smith, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Control systems for energy and water utilities are growing targets of cybersecurity attacks.  In this session, Chris Walcutt of DirectDefense will present the anatomy of the Oldsmar Florida water utility hack, and review others to identify lessons learned.  This review will be followed by a presentation by Jessica Smith, Pacific Northwest National laboratory of a publicly available tool for system cybersecurity and reliability verification and validation for use by utility owners, operators and vendors.       
As the complexity and connectivity of energy delivery systems increase, the associated cybersecurity requirements to ensure their safe and reliable operation also increase. Challenges with the security of these critical systems can lead to the problems that were recently reported at the Oldsmar, FL, water treatment plant.  It is critical both fully understand these attacks to find the lessons-learned to enable improvements, including actions like performing a thorough verification and validation (V&V) of the operational technology and associated information technology products that help monitor, operate, and control critical infrastructure. Securely developed and appropriately tested products can enhance the security, reliability, and resilience of the overall system and ensure its ability to withstand and survive sophisticated cyber threats.  The VARS (Verification and Validation Assuring Reliability and Security) project at PNNL is developing a publicly available framework and web-based tool called RIVVR that utilities or operators (primary users) and vendors (secondary users) can conveniently use to determine risk-informed approaches for V&V of cybersecurity of different water and energy delivery system products. RIVVR will drive secure design and development of control system products, as well as making the approach for verifying and validating their cybersecurity formal, more consistent, risk informed, and tailored to the domains and lifecycle phases.  Adoption of the solutions developed as part of this project will lead to reduction of potential vulnerabilities and risk exposures of the control system products, and therefore enhance the security and reliability of the product as well as the overall system.


3:45 pm - 4:15 pm - Solution Center: Vendor Partner Presentations

Stretched Too Thin - Managing Stress in the Engineering Industry

Lindsay Simone, ACEC Life/Health Trust

Everyone experiences stress from time to time, and the engineering industry can be particularly stressful. While the engineering lifestyle can often be characterized by heightened stress and demanding work and deadlines, there are steps engineers can take to improve their well-being and maintain work-life balance. In this presentation, participants will learn types of stress (physical, cognitive, emotional), discuss the stress cycle, and learn strategies to develop and build resilience when experiencing stress. 


How to Take Full Advantage of Emerging Technologies

Ayman Ayoub, IronOrbit

Explore ways to entrench high-tech capabilities into the DNA of your firm. You’ll walk away with actionable strategies to leverage emerging digital technologies to do 2 things: equip you for enduring success in a digital world and enable you to assess the interconnectedness of tools and guarantee a smooth transition of data across departments and stakeholders—a comprehensive approach to creating an innovation strategy.


How VR is Rewriting the Rules of the Engineering Industry

Mark Goodale & Brendon Cussio, Morrissey Goodale

Mark Goodale and Brendon Cussio discuss Morrissey Goodale’s use of virtual reality, how it has evolved and being used by clients today and what to expect for the longer range use of the technology.



4:30 pm - 5:15 pm

Strategic Investments: How to Identify, Choose and Ensure Success!

William Siegel and Kevin McMahon, McMahon Siegel Group

Now is a great time to make a move to grow and/or strengthen your firm. Join this fast paced session on identifying, choosing and improving the outcome of moves ranging from "routine investments and competitive bets" to "bold strategic actions". Learn how important it is to position, plan and then use senior leadership engagement to achieve successful outcomes.


10 Metrics that Drive AEC Business Growth and Profitability

Megan Miller, Deltek

Benchmarking is an objective way to measure how your AEC firm is performing compared to similar firms in the industry — including high performing firms. Benchmarking gives your firm the tools and resources to easily identify if your firm is on track, as well as identify areas for improvement. This session will cover 10 key metrics fast-growing AEC firms are tracking to improve performance and results.


Cybersecurity Certification: "CMMC is Here. Is your Firm Ready?"

Jonathan Hard, H2L Solutions; Ted Foster, Smith Seckman Reid, Inc.

Federal contractors interested in doing business with the Dept. of Defense will soon be required to have Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). A process that will cost your firm time and money, but one which you cannot afford to ignore. Firms must be assessed by third-party members of the CMMC Accreditation Body to determine their level of compliance. Learn the latest on CMMC and what your firm must achieve to win business with the DoD, and the prospects for CMMC to be extended to other federal clients such as GSA and DHS.


Tuesday, April 27


1:15 pm-2:00 pm

Ideas are Easy.  Execution is Tough.  Accountability Tactics to Implement and Execute your Strategy.

Jennifer Newman, Elevate Marketing Advisors

Studies show 60% of people make annual New Year's resolutions with only 8% realizing success. Sound familiar? More importantly, does this ring a bell when it comes to executing on your business development and marketing goals? Goals, plans, strategies and all the good intentions in the world are great - but without execution accountability, historically, they’ll fall flat. Learn proven, successful accountability tactics you can immediately put in place to achieve your business development goals.


Preparing for Ownership Transition in an Uncertain Economy

David Cohen, Matheson Financial Advisors

Regardless if you are newly appointed to leadership or exiting your business soon, this session is designed to uncover real-world issues our clients have encountered and strategies to mitigate those issues.  We will examine the basics of ownership transition, the importance of valuation, and explore the best practices to ensure the future success and sustainability of your firm. An awareness of the issues and challenges is key to the ongoing success and continued vitality of your company.


Prioritizing Equity in Private/Vertical Design

Moderator: Erin McLaughlin, ACEC

Designing the built environment has a great impact on society. Engineers are examining how we can make this a positive impact; how we can design equitable environments.  Join this panel for a lively discussion on what it means to prioritize equity in Private/Vertical design.


3:45 pm - 4:15 pm - Solution Center: Vendor Partner Presentations

21 Predictions for 2021

Gregg Bundschuh & Lee Ann Wheeler, ACEC Business Insurance Trust/Greyling

2021 will mark a turning point.  The business landscape has fundamentally shifted and so has the playing field for developers, architects, engineers and contractors.  Success will depend on design firms’ ability and willingness to adapt to the disruption and to effectively manage the risks that come with that opportunity.  


Does Your 401(K) Plan Suffer from Faulty Construction?

Lydia Zabrycki, ACEC Retirement Trust

Many engineering firms are not aware that their 401(k) plans rest on weak foundations, exposing them to potentially significant fiduciary liability. Do you know if your 401(k) plan is structurally sound? Even if you have an ERISA Section 3(21) or 3(38) adviser, did you know that you are ultimately liable for compliance? Are you in full compliance with ERISA’s requirements? Are you shouldering unnecessary risk by taking responsibility for monitoring investment options? Beyond liability reduction, this session will address how a well-designed retirement plan can be a recruiting and retention tool that helps your employees retire on their own terms.


4:30 pm-5:15 pm

Technology as Key to Differentiation and Growth

Karl Feldman, Hinge

How do you position your firm to find, engage, and win new business with the right technology partners?   Hinge partner Karl Feldman and Adam Long, CTO of SAM, the nation’s largest combined geospatial solutions and construction services provider, will walk session participants through proven ways AEC firms can identify and work with technology partners on delivering technology-enhanced solutions to a client’s unique, often complex, problems. Moreover, they will share how to avoid common obstacles and make the most of the opportunities partnering can present.


The Key to Project Success: Project Initiation and Project Close-out Best Practices

June Jewell, AEC Business Solutions

Just like a pilot does a safety inspection before a flight, the success of a project often depends on the activities conducted before the project starts. Also as important is closing a project helps prepare your teams to avoid blind-spots, pitfalls and mistakes on future projects. Explore best practices for preparing for a successful project and incorporating lessons learned from completed projects into your proposals, contracts and project management processes.


Infrastructure Delivery in the Changing Climate of Environmental Regulations

Kevin Ramberg, aci consulting

The presentation will focus on the implications and risks associated with anticipated changes to federal environmental regulations under the Biden administration. Learn how these changes may affect project delivery for the massive infrastructure push that the Biden administration is pursuing including schedule implications, mitigation efforts, and revising regulatory approvals. The regulations that will be addressed include: NEPA, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and Clean Air Act. Explore what is changing, the anticipated timelines for these changes, and where you can stay abreast of and engage in the process.


Wednesday, April 28


1:15 pm-2:00 pm

Surviving and Thriving During the Pandemic - What Worked/What Didn't

Keith London, Kennedy Jenks Consultants

How do you not only ‘survive and thrive’ during challenging times, but also acquire long-term coping and resiliency traits within your organization in the face of adversity? Explore efforts related to employee engagement and ‘what worked/what didn’t work’ observations. Also discuss which initiatives will outlast the pandemic and position you for future success, while mastering whatever the future brings.


Guidelines for Handling a Cyber Security Breach

Jim Jacobi & Mason Pokladnik, Walter P Moore; Markus Weidner, Pennoni; Eric Quinn, C&S Companies; Creighton Barnes, Clark Nexsen, Andy Knauf, Mead & Hunt

Cybersecurity is key to keeping your IT systems up and running just as IT is key to keeping your business running. This session will highlight areas you should be addressing before, during, and after an incident occurs.  It’ll also address how having an incident response plan can increase the speed of recovery and maybe even aid with your next insurance renewal cycle. Join us as we discuss ways to improve all phases of incident response cycle: Prevention, Detection/Response, Recover/Improve to help prevent what you can and respond faster when an incident does happen.


Flood Protection: “Development of the National Levee Safety Program.” 

Phoebe Percell & Jamie McVicker, US Army Corps of Engineers; Moderator: Elena Sossenkina, HDR

This session will present the vision for a National Levee Safety Program  and the role of the engineering community.  Levees play a critical role in managing flood risk for the nation. Approximately 29,000 miles of levees throughout the nation reduce risk to over 17 million people that live and work behind them. They also reduce risk to $2.3 trillion in property value and much of our nation’s critical infrastructure.  However, floods occur every year, testing levee performance.  In close collaboration with stakeholders, tribes, and agencies, the US Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency kicked off an initiative in 2020 to develop a program intended to provide the framework, tools, and assistance in managing reliable levees and understanding their role in a broader flood risk management context.  The main objectives are to provide access to best available information; develop and maintain a set of national guidelines covering key activities related to new and existing levees; promote creation of consistent levee safety programs; and align existing USACE and FEMA programs to support these objectives.    Speakers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency will outline the major elements of the national program.  The speakers will look for the engineering audience to engage on the effects of program development and implementation on a wide range of stakeholders such as  flood plain managers, state and local planning officials, and dam and levee owners and operators.


3:45 pm - 4:15 pm - Solution Center: Vendor Partner Presentations

Negotiating the Duty to Defend

Brett Stewart, AXA XL

This 30-minute program provides a brief primer on the duty to defend obligation in an indemnity clause and explains how the contractual liability exclusion in a professional liability insurance policy can create an uninsured exposure for design firms. This session will then assist firms in understanding how to negotiate the duty to defend. The program will examine different methods to address the upfront defense obligation and how these are impacted by other aspects in the contractual indemnity, other provisions in the contract, and project evaluation concerns.


Get Paid Faster: Strategies for Improving Invoicing and Accounts Receivable Processes

Lucas Hayden, Unanet

Billing your clients accurately and efficiently and collecting payments promptly are essential aspects of operating a project-based business. Join Unanet’s Lucas Hayden to discuss key strategies that A/E firms can use to reduce Work-In-Process (WIP) and Accounts Receivable (AR) aging, improving their cashflow.


4:30 pm-5:15 pm

Advance!  What Your Firm's Next Generation of Leaders Needs for the Post-Covid World of Work

Joanne Linowes, LXDi, LLC

As we move our firms forward in what will be the post-covid world of work, the next generation of  leaders will require a new take on traditional leadership skills.  From decision-making to team communications to business development, we will need to tweak what has always worked to get even better results.  This interactive session provides specific skills and techniques for clear messaging, client-relationship management, business-building, short-list interview effectiveness, and other "soft skills".


Presentation Skills:  How to Keep Your Virtual Audience Engaged and Awake!

Karen Susman, Karen Susman and Associates

Virtual meetings are here to stay. Explore nine ways to keep your audience engaged and awake for virtual pitches, panels and presentations. Boost your content, delivery and digital skills to build your business.


Storytelling:  How Philanthropy Can Help Tell Your Firm's Story

Laura Nick & Michael Graves, Garver

Celebrating its 100th year in 2019, Garver leveraged strategic storytelling to execute a successful philanthropic campaign that engaged employees, clients, and communities served by the firm. Look behind the curtain at how the firm’s corporate-wide STEM initiative positively impacted thousands of students, strengthened client relationships, and garnered more than 200 television, online, and print media reports – reaching an audience exceeding four million.


More education sessions will be added as they are confirmed - please check back for updates to the schedule!