Anthony M. Puntin, P.E., F.ASCE
Simply put, there has been no greater influence on my professional career than ASCE. Throughout my involvement with ASCE, I have been afforded the opportunity to participate at the local, regional, and national level. My ASCE journey has taken me from local committees to the National Board of Direction. These travels have provided exposure to all that ASCE has to offer. From technical education to government relations and leadership development, every civil engineer has a place in ASCE.
As the recognized leader in our profession, ASCE has the ability and responsibility to help advance our industry. ASCE's current strategic initiatives (Infrastructure Advocacy, Sustainability, and “Raise the Bar”) serve as the foundation upon which we will continue to build. I fully support these priorities and have advocated for them in various manners.
1. Through my participation in the New Hampshire and National Report Card committees, I have gained an appreciation of the condition of our infrastructure and the need to provide sustainable funding resources for continual investment. My attendance at ASCE's Fly-In program since 2001 has provided experience as to the mechanisms behind the development and advocacy of legislation.
2. While on the National Board, I supported the development of the Committee on Sustainability and ASCE's participation in the formation of the Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). I have continued to promote and advocate for ISI and the Envision rating system through presentations to ASCE sections, private companies, and public agencies.
3. The initiative to revise the educational requirement for professional licensure is undoubtedly ASCE's most controversial issue. I believe that the continued decrease in the engineering credits needed for an undergraduate degree coupled with the increased demand on today's professional engineer require a higher level of education than is currently required for licensure.
I regularly participate in Career Day at my wife's middle school. The presentation I make requires a discussion on "What is the future of your profession?" On a basic level, I believe our future is like our past. Civil engineers will continue to serve society by protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. We will always be the stewards of the environment and developers of the built world. On a much deeper level, our profession is ever evolving with the advancement of technologies and greater demands by the public. I would like to explore the question: What is the future of ASCE? And just as important: How do we get there? Here is my vision for ASCE.
- I believe one of the most pressing concerns for ASCE is membership numbers. Many baby boomers will be reaching ASCE life-membership status over the next decade and there is not enough of the next generation (Gen X) to replace them. ASCE must do even more to engage and recruit young members and students. We need to make a concerted effort to reach out to the student chapters and demonstrate real and tangible benefits of membership. I suggest the best way to accomplish this is through a recruitment program at the regional leadership conferences and the student conferences. These events provide a "captive audience" and are an ideal venue for the promotion of ASCE benefits. All of these meetings should include a presentation by Regional (governors) or National (society director and presidential) officers.
- The globalization of the world economy has had a dramatic impact on our industry. Large and small firms alike are managing, designing, and building projects all over the world. ASCE has also experienced this globalization. With approximately 10% of our membership outside of the United States, ASCE has long been recognized as a leader of technical publications, realizing 15-20% of annual revenues for overseas sale of publications. ASCE should look to expand upon this market through increased membership recruitment. The international engineering community should also be able to enjoy the benefits of ASCE membership. A task committee is currently evaluating our international strategic plan; the results of which will provide further guidance and will help set our path going forward.
- It is estimated that there are approximately 250,000 civil engineers in the United States with less than 40% of them members of ASCE. Many non-members may have been student chapter members who chose not to renew after graduation. We need to demonstrate to them that ASCE provides a wide variety of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Through our Technical Institutes, ASCE offers membership in eight discipline specific areas of concentration. ASCE's local sections and branches provide an ideal avenue for the development of leadership and management skills in a low risk, high reward environment. We know that in our industry "word of mouth" is one of the best marketing tools. ASCE must continue to ensure that our current members see real and meaningful benefits to membership. Their experience in ASCE will serve as an example to their co-workers and contemporaries in the industry.
At over 160 years old, ASCE has endured by holding to a core mission and values while being dynamic enough to evolve with the industry. We are at a time where the rate of change is ever increasing. ASCE must rely on its ability to react to changing times to provide our membership and industry with leadership for the continued advancement of our profession.
Involvement in ASCE has made a dramatic impact on my career and personal life. I have gained technical and leadership skills and have made lifelong friends. As ASCE President, I will share my experiences with others and show them there is a place in ASCE for every civil engineer. Together, we will work to continue the advancement of our profession and to celebrate the many accomplishments of civil engineers.