By Marilyn Williams, Senior Assistant, Technical Services Department, NEMA
The most drastic change I have experienced during my years at NEMA is the progress from paper use to electronic ease.
I was hired in March 1986 for the engineering department. My major tasks were working with the Codes and Standards (C&S) Committee and NEMA field representatives. These tasks were equally consuming. I didn’t know at the time how much work would be involved in just getting the C&S agenda out to the members.
Although the computer age was up and running, most of my work was still done by paper distribution. Luckily for me, I had a copier right in front of my office for all the documents that were copied and distributed to the members and NEMA staff. Related to the standards work was copying task ANSI Z535 documents; I received checks from customers to purchase copies of these documents weekly, and I sent them out as requested. That copier in front of my office got a workout. I believe we replaced it twice because of my regular usage.
As for codes and standards (C&S) work, all documents had to be sent to the print shop, which NEMA had in the back of the office, before they could be sent out to the C&S Committee. The print shop employed about 10 young men to process jobs for either outside mailings or in-house distributions. As with all copying centers, you had to give the print shop at least three to five days for work to be finished. For the C&S committee, I needed all five of those days. During the National Electrical Code® cycle, I would have five or six boxes of documents to be printed for distribution, so timing was very important if I wanted to get the agenda out to the members before they started traveling to the meeting.
The C&S committee of 25 members would require 50 to 100 or more attachments per agenda. I would set up shop in an empty meeting room, spread the documents out on the table, and stamp each one as an exhibit with a combination of numbers and letters, as needed. Some attachments required three-digit numbers with three letters (e.g., 102aaa). Don’t ask me how, but it always came out right. Because of the multiple attachments, all agendas were sent out in boxes—and yes, those boxes came back to the meeting. Most would end up on the tables and under the tables. At the end of the meeting, believe me, I had my own trash can, filled with empty boxes, agendas, and attachments.
I say “thank you” to computers. Everything is now done electronically. No more boxes! The length of the agenda and its multiple attachments has stayed the same, but without papers under the table to clean up after the meetings.
I love my computer.
This is the second of three installments in the 30+30+30=90 Years at NEMA series. Originally published in the January 2016 issue of ei, the magazine of the electroindustry.