Each month in this column, I get to pick a topic and share my thoughts with you. Many times, I choose to share my views on the theme of that month’s issue or a topic discussed in the cover story or special report. Sometimes, the focus of a particular feature article serves as the springboard for my viewpoint as well. Whatever the inspiration may be, my goal each month is not only to try and educate you about a particular issue, but also to prompt thought-provoking dialog between us.

During one of our recent editorial strategy meetings, the staff and I agreed that I shouldn’t be the only one afforded this unique opportunity. We decided it would enhance the quality of the magazine if some of you joined in. So starting with this issue, we’re introducing a new department called “Speaking Out.”

Featured on the last editorial page of each issue, this one-page column will showcase the opinion of industry experts (like you) on hot topics in the industry. However, this department is not meant to serve as a pulpit for furthering one’s own agenda. Instead, it’s designed to serve as a forum to offer opinions, predictions, and potential solutions to the most pressing issues facing our industry today. Much like some of my own viewpoints, we’re sure “Speaking Out” columns may strike an emotional chord with many of you. Whether you wholeheartedly agree with the commentary and want to add your own two cents on the subject or fire off a rebuttal, our goal is to generate a healthy and constructive dialog on each column via the commenting tool at the bottom of each article page on the EC&M website.

So what kind of topics are we going to cover? Well, that’s really up to you. But here are a few ideas to help spark your imagination. What effect are counterfeit electrical products having on your business and the industry as a whole? Is the manufacturing sector in this country dying a slow death or making a comeback? Have wind and solar technology advancements finally reached a tipping point, or will these markets wither away like they have in the past? You might also have passionate thoughts on the technology front and want to focus on lighting technology, arc flash, grounding and bonding, or electrical safety requirements. I’m confident many of you would also like to “speak out” on topics related to NEC requirements as well.

Are you a thought leader representing an electrical trade organization, electrical contractor, engineering firm, training group, research or testing organization, or do you work in a plant/facility? If so, and you’re interested in submitting an opinion piece for this new department — or would simply like to suggest a topic — then send a note to Managing Editor Ellen Parson at ellen.parson@penton.com to get more information.

This month, Ron Gilcrease of Atlanta-based Rogers Electric helps us kick off this new column right with his call to action on the lighting front. He urges each and every one of you to help him reduce our dependence on rare earth metals and foreign markets, which will mitigate significant lamp cost increases going forward.

Let’s see what other hard-hitting topics we can come up with in the months ahead. I’m excited to see what this new year and new department bring for all of us.