Weekly Now: How Groups Are Pushing for Change After the Florida Building Collapse

A number of engineering associations are seeking regulatory solutions for building safety after the high-profile tragedy in South Florida. Also: Technology and aftermarket-focused groups score an advocacy win on the right to repair.

The partial collapse of a condo building in Surfside, Florida, has highlighted structural issues beyond just the building itself.

Among them: the funding of maintenance needs, as well as regulatory gaps that put Champlain Towers South in such a dire state that the building, located in an area that regularly sees hurricanes and tropical storms, became a major safety risk. Engineering associations are focused on the latter issue—and are speaking out to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

“This tragedy reminds us all of the absolute necessity for the expert design, construction, and maintenance of our building structures and bridges,” said Douglas S. Wood, president of the Florida Structural Engineers Association, in comments to The Center Square.

FSEA and three other state and national engineering groups—the Florida Engineering Society (FES), the American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida (ACEC-FL), and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)—have been pushing for a stronger advocacy voice in new regulations for inspections and licensing. The state does not have an official law licensing structural engineers, and a bill that would have required licensing was vetoed in 2015.

Allen Douglas, executive director of both FES and ACEC-FL, told the Miami Herald that the groups are considering their options and are meeting regularly to discuss potential advocacy solutions.

“What we have right now is more questions than any answers,” Douglas said. “We want to do something, so let’s take a look at the things that can be discussed at this point.”

Other recent headlines:

Associations score big with right-to-repair executive order. The grassroots right-to-repair movement, which has gained much attention in recent years as gadgets and vehicles have become more computerized, scored a major success last week as the Biden administration announced plans to require manufacturers to supply repair manuals and parts to aftermarket repairers—a particular problem for cellphones, other electronics, and heavy machinery such as tractors. Industry groups in both the consumer advocacy and automotive fields cheered the move; in comments to Fortune, Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of The Repair Association, called on manufacturers to build more durable devices. “We need products that are more durable and repairable as opposed to just shinier and prettier,” she said.

A career exploration playbook. A pair of education groups targeting middle school-age learners—the Association for Middle Level Education and American Student Assistance—have created a playbook for educators to help students explore career options. AMLE CEO Stephanie Simpson said the partnership brings together key resources from both groups. “This project marries AMLE’s expertise in middle grades best practice with ASA’s extensive work supporting and studying effective career exploration programming to create a roadmap that any school can follow to kick-start their own initiatives,” she said in a news release. “We truly believe that every student deserves the tools and opportunities to explore their future, and this playbook helps schools to accomplish that goal.”

The Lost Power of Collective Effervescence

Perhaps you’ve noticed something’s been missing from your interactions with others over the past year or so, beyond simply being able to be in the same room. We’ve been missing an emotion that well-known organizational psychologist Adam Grant calls “collective effervescence”—the joy of experiencing a moment as part of a group.

Grant, in a New York Times article, put it like this:

Collective effervescence happens when joie de vivre spreads through a group. Before Covid, research showed that more than three-quarters of people found collective effervescence at least once a week and almost a third experienced it at least once a day. They felt it when they sang in choruses and ran in races, and in quieter moments of connection at coffee shops and in yoga classes.

But as lockdowns and social distancing became the norm, there were fewer and fewer of these moments. I started watching stand-up comedy specials, hoping to get a taste of collective effervescence while laughing along with the people in the room. It was fine, but it wasn’t the same.

Instead, many of us found ourselves drawn into a dark cloud.


It’s hard to avoid hot-button topics, but with the right cultural footing, your association’s workplace can build trust when discussing them.

Speaking of discussion, leaders often face communication gaps when working with employees and stakeholders on important topics, such as DEI. Mark Athitakis breaks down some changes that can help narrow that gap.

Associations put on a lot of professional development events—but how do they know those events are having an impact? Jack Coursen, director of professional development at the American Speech-​Language-Hearing Association, breaks down his organization’s surveying and measurement strategies.

The Champlain Towers South, in the days after the partial collapse. (felixmizioznikov/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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