As a voice for the public and for engineering students, Linda Thurman of the Lee College of Engineering has been a valuable member of the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Land Surveyors (NCBELS) since 2010. The energy and professionalism Thurman brings to the board will have an even greater impact in 2018, as she serves as the first-ever public member to chair NCBELS.
The Director for Employer Relations and Student Professional Development in UNC Charlotte’s college of engineering, Thurman first began working with NCBELS when she brought board representatives to campus to talk to students about the important role NCBELS plays for engineers in the state. That involvement led to her being nominated and then appointed by Governor Bev Perdue as a public member of the board in 2010. She was reappointed to a second five-year term in 2015 by Governor Pat McCrory.
The NC Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors is responsible for the administration and regulation of the professions of engineering and land surveying in North Carolina, which includes investigating alleged violations of provisions of the licensure law. It also oversees and administers the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE exam), the Principals and Practice of Engineering Exam (PE exam), the Fundamentals of Land Surveying Exam (FS exam) and the Principals and Practice of Land Surveying Exam (PS exam).
“We are the licensure for engineering and surveying in the state,” Thurman said. “We oversee all the rules and laws related to the professions to make sure we are compliant.”
The Executive Director of the board is Andrew Ritter. “The reason we exist is that by the practice of our professions there is the potential to harm the public,” Ritter said. “The board is required to safeguard the public. There are four professional engineers, three professional surveyors and two public members on the board. The engineers and surveyors look at the technical side of the issues. The public members provide a more common sense view of the issues.”
Ritter has worked with Thurman since the early 2000’s when he would come to UNC Charlotte as a speaker. “I talk to students throughout the state about the importance of taking the professional tests and licensure,” he said. “Linda would invite me to speak to the seniors at UNC Charlotte, which is when I first got to know her. She has always been a big proponent of getting the UNC Charlotte students into the licensure process. I was super excited when she was appointed to the board. Linda is as professional as you can get and is great to work with.”
As a public board member, Thurman has brought valuable insights to NCBELS, Ritter said. “Linda has a great perspective when looking at the common-sense side of the issues,” he said. “She is willing to stand up when things seem wrong. And conversely, if she sees that an issue is not really a problem or threat, she will say so. She does what is right. She has been great at protecting the public for the past 10 years.”
As the new chair of the board for 2018, Thurman’s experience and leadership will be extremely valuable, Ritter said. “We are an active board and do a tremendous amount of work. Over the years Linda has provided great participation and energy, which is why the board thought she would be an excellent chair. I’m looking forward to 2018. Linda is great for the public, great for the board and great for UNC Charlotte.”
Thurman said she is looking forward to her further involvement with the board and serving as chair. “When I was first appointed I found it very rewarding,” she said. “I was able to be a voice for the students and bring to light issues that impacted them. Serving on the board has also given me the opportunity to build recognition and awareness of UNC Charlotte and the Lee College of Engineering with professional engineers throughout the state.”
Thurman has been a strong voice for the community in her role as a public member. “I’ve always said my role as a public member is that I’m the person the board is supposed to protect. I am the public. A lot of the issues can get very technical, and I look at them from the view of a homeowner, consumer and educator. I offer insights into what the public feels and sees. As a member of the public, I want to know that I am being protected.
“I love serving on the board. These are very smart people and they are all on the board because they want to make a contribution to their profession and to help others. I’m honored I can be a part of that in some way.”
Lee College of Engineering Dean Bob Johnson said having Thurman serving as the first-ever public member to be chair of NCBELS is a tremendous benefit to college. “Ms. Thurman does an extraordinary job as the college's Director of Employee Relations and Student Professional Development, and there is no doubt she will be an outstanding chair of NC Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors,” Johnson said. “Ms. Thurman is extremely familiar with the profession of engineering, and she will be a tremendous asset promoting the important role of licensure to our engineering students.”