ASCE provides a rich combination of local, national, and technical resources that fulfill our member needs in the profession of civil engineering. Our 140,000 members, representing student organizations, Younger Member Groups, Sections, Branches, Divisions and Councils of the Technical Activities Committee, Geographical Regions, Technical Institutes, and our Technical Region provide educational and professional civil engineering involvement for professionals in all stages of their careers. We have made great strides in branding our Society and providing consistent quality in all of our products. We must move towards allowing every member equal access to the resources and benefits ASCE provides. We must enhance the links between local and national components of ASCE to allow interaction and communication for the benefit of all members. Communication will be a major theme of my presidential year, especially in the areas I would like to emphasize – membership value, infrastructure advocacy, sustainability, and raising the bar. Effective communication must be two-way. Not only do we need to communicate what ASCE does and can do, we must listen to our members and the outside world to find ways to improve ASCE.
Membership Value ASCE’s strength has always been its members. Local units, both geographic and technical, have individually developed great programs and opportunities for member service and growth. On the other hand, a number of our groups struggle to provide basic services to their members. I would like to set a priority to work with the Sections, Branches and Committees through their Regions to help increase the activity and benefits to members who operate in these areas.
ASCE membership provides value to its members on both personal and professional levels, but not every member realizes the benefits available, especially in these troubling times. We must communicate that ASCE provides current civil engineering news, technical journals, and publications in both print and electronic format and that members can maintain their professional competency through ASCE seminars, webinars, continuing education, and conferences. We must emphasize that technical opportunities for member specialties and networking are not only available locally but are also available through ASCE’s Institutes and its Technical Activities Committees where members can contribute, discuss, and absorb new technical material. In these tight financial times, ASCE also provides assistance with career advice, direction, and job listings. ASCE administers the Brace Fund which can assist unemployed and needy members with dues payments. Also, fellowships and scholarships are available for students in civil engineering.
These membership benefits must be communicated, maintained, and expanded by providing more educational opportunities, simplified access to technical information, more networking possibilities, and coordinating job opportunities with the Sections and Branches. In addition, we must be open to ideas from members to help with their current and future career needs.
Infrastructure Advocacy While civil engineers have done amazing work to design, construct, and maintain infrastructure for our nation’s future with diminishing budgets, we must improve communication on behalf of our profession. ASCE is recognized as the honest broker on the issue of infrastructure, and our Report Card for America’s Infrastructure and the Failure to Act study uses this recognized expertise to not only communicate the poor condition of our infrastructure, but also to propose key solutions to improve the grades. We must expand and communicate those key solutions through our members and work with government leaders to actually raise the grades. Civil engineers must be advocates both locally and nationally to educate the public and provide sound information for government leaders to make informed decisions.
Sustainability This is more than a buzz-word. If our society wants to maintain its standard of living into future generations we need to use our resources in the most efficient manner possible. To successfully compete in the global economy, our country needs world-class infrastructure, but there are limited resources available to improve, let alone maintain, our failing infrastructure. Civil engineers must be at the forefront of sustainable design to maintain existing infrastructure, provide life-cycle-driven solutions for new infrastructure, and investigate non-structural solutions to provide capacity without additional construction. ASCE’s Board of Direction has recognized the importance of sustainable design for the Society by joining with others to establish the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. We must continue to support this effort and its rating tool to raise the awareness and skills of engineers in this area.
Raise the Bar To allow future Civil Engineers to effectively lead multi-disciplinary teams and advocate for infrastructure issues, we must adequately prepare new graduates to enter the profession. We need to ensure that they have both the technical expertise and the communication skills to persuasively present civil engineering issues to both technical and non-technical audiences. ASCE’s Raise the Bar initiative provides the basis for improving the educational and communication skills of engineers to practice as professionals. We must work with our sister societies to advance the Raise the Bar requirements to the various professional engineering jurisdictions.
As President, two-way communication, to advance ASCE’s agenda and to incorporate member and non-member input, will drive the vision for my presidential year which will emphasize the following:
• stimulating interaction between local and national levels of ASCE to allow synergy to benefit both;
• increasing and communicating the value of ASCE membership benefits by providing more training, simplified access to technical information, and coordinating job opportunities with the Sections and Branches;
• continuing to provide our civil engineering expertise as advocates to the public and to state and local governments for maintaining and improving our infrastructure;
• advancing and communicating ASCE’s Sustainable Design Action Plan; and
• promoting raising the educational bar for engineers to develop the necessary technical and communication skills to practice professionally in the 21st century.