Earlier this month, Keith Robinson, FCSC, FCSI, RSW, LEED AP—former CSC president and a member of Construction Canada’s editorial advisory board—was elevated to CSI Fellow, becoming just the third person to hold Fellowship in both associations. He entered the U.S. association’s College of Fellows after the Honors & Awards Ceremony at CONSTRUCT 2016 & the CSI Annual Convention in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, September 8.
A specifier at DIALOG and a decorated member of CSC (his most recent accolade was Life Membership at the 2016 national conference), Robinson has been a CSI member since 2005. He has been active on several task teams for the U.S. group, including the MasterFormat Maintenance Task Team (MFMTT), where he contributed to the numbering and naming conventions for construction-related Work Results. He also proctored the recent revisions to Division 28, co-ordinating a consensus-based update to electronic safety and security components.
Robinson is currently a member of CSI’s Preliminary Project Description Format Task Team (PPDFTT) and served as CSC’s liaison on the CSI Technical Committee. He also acted as the working group lead of OmniClass Table 33 and 34 (Disciplines and Organizational Roles) from 2010 until 2012, and has contributed to the development of CSI/CSC SectionFormat/PageFormat and CSI/CSC Multiphase Project Delivery documents as a reviewer and commentator.
Construction Canada spoke with Robinson after the show.
CC: How was the show for you?
KR: Austin was a pretty amazing experience. CONSTRUCT offered some very informative sessions, and the trade floor offered a lot of ‘aha moments.’ This translated into a lot of takeaways that prove the worth of attending these types of trade shows. The conference allows attendees to catch up—in my case, I know people from all across the United States, so the event provides time for personal face-to-face meetings with people I typically know through correspondence. We compare stories of successes, and those occasions when things could have gone better.
My wife Heather was also at the show. She was blown away by the number of people I associate with—she thinks I just write ‘stuff’ and talk to people about ‘boring’ topics. At a show like this, she sees people actually seek me out. There’s this source of pride I see on her face when seeing the recognition that comes along with the efforts leading up to the Fellowship; I like that she knows what I do is making a difference in other peoples’ lives, and provides meaning to the time I spend outside of our home life.
CC: You were introduced by John Lape, FCSI, FCSC, AIA. Along with Wayne Watson, you are the only people to hold Fellowship in both CSI and CSC. What’s your friendship like?
KR: John was my Fellowship facilitator—he and I have been friends for many years, and have built a professional relationship since he joined our association during the 2002 CSC National Conference in Banff. He inspired me to join CSI in 2004 and, as with any endeavour I take on, chose to become engaged in various ShareGroups and Task Teams within the Institute.
John becoming a member of the CSC College of Fellows last year didn’t surprise me. He is one of the most recognized members of the CSI family and has attended all of our conferences since becoming a member. He is also a very vocal promoter of quality specifications and technical documentation on both sides of the border. Wayne Watson, of course, was one of the original contributors to MasterFormat at the time when the Building Construction Index and Unified Construction Index was being phased out—when the need for a North American standardized approach to construction information nomenclature was instituted between 1972 and 1976.
Both people have mentored me and inspired me to do the things that I do. Being counted as one of the few to have received Fellowship in both associations is truly humbling, and feels like the great honour it is meant to be.
CC: How does CSI Fellowship differ from CSC?
KR: When it comes to the feeling of pride and accomplishment that goes along with this award and the CSC Fellowship, they cannot be compared. It would be like stating who your favourite child is—we love our kids differently to the exclusion of a favourite, but there may be a better personal connection based on our experience with one child. The sense of pride and accomplishment here is similar, but being in the very small category of those that have been awarded dual Fellowship makes the CSI award feel much more personal when taken as a part of the larger group of Fellows on both sides of the border.
CC: How did the ceremonies differ for you?
KR: The CSI Fellowship Ceremony is very public, complete with rehearsals and instructions on how to cross the stage so we don’t trip on the stairs, remember to bow and turn at the correct time, and exit without causing delay. What I saw in the CSI presentation of awards was a very articulated and formal event. My sense is recognition of peoples’ accomplishments are viewed with a lot of respect and pride by the various chapters and regions within CSI.
I think the biggest difference between becoming a Fellow in CSC and CSI is public introduction of the members being inducted into the College. At CSI, the induction is performed on the public stage, and the more formal introduction is done at the business meeting. This is opposite to CSC, where the induction ceremony is performed in private, and the public introduction to the public is performed during the President’s Ball.
CC: So what’s next for your involvement with both associations?
KR: I am continuing on being active in both CSC and CSI communities—last year’s Executive Council appointed me as the CSC Registrar, basically providing historical continuity to the Board of Directors and sitting as ombudsman where any controversy arises.
I have been asked by CSI to take on a guidance role in providing updates to the PPDFormat Document Task Team. I will also remain as the CSC representative on the MasterFormat Maintenance Task Team for at least two more years, but am also looking to transition that role to someone else.
I am still very active with the CSI Pacific Northwest Region and have become a contributor to the #LetsFixConstruction Blog post about positive outcomes to common construction documentation and project management issues, that was started by fellow #CSIKraken/#CSCKraken members Cherise Lakeside and Eric Lussier, along with others who have a desire to make a difference in the art and science of preparing construction specifications.