A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with a group of editors at a press event in Switzerland. We had just finished a tour of the Hilti plant in which they manufacture concrete diamond core bits. They had showed us an innovative flux welding process that binds the industrial diamonds to the steel core shank.

An editor of a publication that covers drywall was very impressed. "I wish there were American engineers who could develop technology like what we just witnessed," he said.

His statement rankled me. I'm not sure if he was trying to impress our host, or if he just didn't know any better.

Our host was noticeably unsettled and responded, "Many of our best engineers are American. In fact, most come from the automotive industry, and they're excellent."

There was support for American engineering from the other editors. After listening to a few more comments from the rest of the table, our host added, "Our greatest challenge with pushing technology forward is not a matter of the engineers' nationality. It's a matter of numbers."

The shortage of engineers is an international problem. Ever the supporter of concrete and masonry, I told the table about how our industry has addressed our labor shortage by its support of the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program. Our host and the editors from other industry magazines were impressed by your efforts.

The next few weeks, you'll have an opportunity to show your support for this unique and much needed program. The CIM National Steering Committee still needs donations for its auction that will be held at World of Concrete on Jan. 24.

During the auction, you can bid in person and online. I urge you to find a way to help in this industrywide initiative. You can learn how to donate and view a list of auction items at www.concretedegree.com.

I can't wait to meet my colleagues from other industries and brag about our industry's successful secession plan.