Charles J. Hookham, P.E., M.ASCE
If elected to serve ASCE as an At-Large Director, I will bring a wealth of experience gained in a variety of settings including consulting, research, and project management, municipal government, and private industry. Further detail is contained in a separate Biographical Sketch. In terms of my vision for the Society and plans for during my term as At-Large Director, I offer the following thoughts.
My first exposure to ASCE was as a student at the University of Illinois. I was intrigued by what the Student Chapter offered me and gradually increased my participation into as many activities as possible. Looking back, it is clear that ASCE membership was invaluable to my growth as a person and engineer and I have greatly benefitted from all the resources offered. In my perspective, ASCE has unlimited opportunities to expand its influence and contribution to public welfare but must continue to sharpen its focus on what is most important and where can it add the most value. I hope to add perspective and vision, given my global exposure and participation from many viewpoints. Some expected focal points include:
- Expanding outreach to students at the earliest possible time, to explain what a civil engineer does and how gratifying a career such can offer;
- Providing leadership to address pressing societal issues, from fresh water shortages and climate change impacts through retrofitting infrastructure, increasing workplace productivity/efficiency, and reducing energy demand and other resources; sustainability must be come part of the equation instead of being a misunderstood term;
- Developing and implementing risk management and technical tools to better guide the use of limited financial resources;
- Enabling the transition of engineering leadership, from the Baby Boomers to the Generation Y engineers, who operate differently and view the profession from a different perspective;
- Greater collaboration amongst the various engineering professions/societies, through UEF and Founders Society, given that many of future technical challenges are multi-disciplined and require a critical mass.
I do believe we need to better answer the questions “why be a civil engineer” and “what does a civil engineer do”, to further educate the public, elicit their confidence and to enhance our image and continued growth. As the world changes and both natural and anthropogenic impacts intensify, ASCE can offer the resources and technology to lessen impacts, add resilience, and mitigate consequences of all kinds. I am also aware of many other initiatives that ASCE is currently pursuing including those well stated in the Guiding Principles and am certainly willing to support their refinement into actionable steps.
In terms of my plans during tenure as Director, I expect to spend the necessary time and energy to maximize my contributions to the Board of Direction particularly as they relate to the previous bullet list and any other tasks assigned. I also intend to support my existing commitments to other committees and volunteer activities, although without as many new short-term actions. My role as an officer and project director at HDR Engineering will likely continue in its current path although I will strive to delegate more day to day management activities to my existing staff. This will free up more time for ASCE and other pursuits. It appears that the power and energy market will continue to grow at a relatively slow, niche-based pace and this should result in a reduced workload for me at HDR. I do intend to support the Energy Division Executive Committee and its continued resurgence.
I also understand ASCE’s interests in expanding its participation in the power and energy field as a whole, and have had many discussions with current staff on how this could be best accomplished. Important first steps were the Failure to Act Report in 2012 and expanded coverage of said power and energy systems in the 2013 Infrastructure Report Card. As power systems tend to follow the mechanical and electrical engineering disciplines, developing collaboration with ASME and IEEE to define sustainable power and energy systems and a national energy policy appear to be plausible short-term goals with value to all three societies. This can potentially be accomplished through the UEF and Founders Society. Other peripheral areas where an expanded ASCE role is possible include developing hydraulic fracturing and carbon sequestration consensus standards; I am interested to increase ASCE’s involvement in these areas and others pending direction.
The recent White House Executive Order (EO) for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity and Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (CISR) clearly demonstrate the importance of energy system resilience. While ASCE’s role in these initiatives may not be large, there are certainly topical areas within each that ASCE could provide leadership in addressing. However, like the Department of Homeland Security and National Infrastructure Protection Plan, these programs could be deemed sensitive to national security and addressed only by entities with security clearances. If of interest to ASCE, I can pursue opportunities in this area as well.
In summary, I believe that I am at a well-balanced time in my career where I can couple over thirty-two years of infrastructure experience and learned skills with high enthusiasm and “energy” to make a difference as an At-Large Director within ASCE. The future offers many interesting challenges to the civil engineering profession and having an opportunity to provide leadership and direction is certainly exciting and motivating.