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Oklahoma's engineers help ensure public safety where they work and live

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The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the role essential workers, including medical professionals, public servants and even grocery employees, play in our everyday lives. Less noticed might be the importance of licensed professional engineers in making sure the vital systems in our communities continue operating even during crises.

Engineers help ensure that we have the essential services we all rely on: Clean water to drink and wash our hands. Safe roads to travel on when we’re able to get out. Wastewater treatment after we flush. Parks, trails and green spaces so we can enjoy the outdoors. Reliable power sources, whether we’re at home, work, school or public places. Well-functioning hospitals, especially in a pandemic.


This month, I was honored to be sworn in as president of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), engineering’s largest professional group with more than 26,000 members. Through many years of involvement in NSPE, I’ve seen how engineers across the United States contribute to their communities. 


Professional Engineers meet rigorous qualifications to become licensed and uphold the public trust. And the engineers I work with, locally and nationally, take their responsibility for the public’s health, safety and welfare seriously.


I’m especially proud of the commitment our 35 employees in Freese and Nichols’ Oklahoma City and Tulsa offices show to their communities, both in their work and their volunteer activities. 


When Freese and Nichols asked me to lead our growth in my home state, I was thrilled with the opportunity to continue helping improve the lives of all Oklahomans. Our team has put down local roots: our families live, worship and volunteer in the communities where we work. Keeping these jobs in our state ensures continuity of services for all Oklahomans.


We also regularly hire Oklahoma-based firms as subconsultants, and our employees partner with Oklahoma universities to help prepare future engineers. 


Ours is a national firm, but we’re deeply invested in Oklahoma.


Our firm joined with others similarly committed to our state to form Open for Business Oklahoma (OFBO), a professional association that highlights the importance of quality engineering and quality jobs in Oklahoma. The companies of OFBO are headquartered out of state, but they employ about 1,000 Oklahomans. 


Licensed professional engineers will continue working for their communities long past the current crisis, even if their contributions remain out of the spotlight because water, energy and other systems function the way they should. We are here for Oklahoma. 



Tricia Hatley, an Edmond native, holds a BS in civil engineering from Oklahoma State University. She has been an NSPE member since 1993.

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