Randall (Randy) S. Over, P.E., F.ASCE
Q&A with Committee on Younger Members
Responses to Interview Questions:
1. What best qualifies you to serve as ASCE’s president?
The depth and breadth of my ASCE leadership experience from being Cleveland Section President to Zone II Vice President and varied Board Committee service including Educational Activities Committee Chair, Strategic Planning Chair, Engineers Without Borders Task Committee Chair, Committee on Geographic Units Chair, Task Committee on Committee Restructuring Chair, and member of Government Relations, Board Policy Team, Report Card Advisory Council, and Executive Director Search Committee. This in place-place leadership service has provided me the opportunity to gain an overall view of the organization over a period of years where there has been considerable change in the profession and ASCE.
2. What are the three greatest challenges facing civil engineers of the 21st century and how do you think ASCE can help them address those challenges?
1) Aging, deteriorating and obsolete infrastructure coupled with constrained traditional funding sources (ASCE's Infrastructure Strategic Initiative).
ASCE’s releasing of the Failure to Act infrastructure investment studies for Surface Transportation and Water Resources, with more planned is addressing this challenge head on by making clear the interconnection of economic competitiveness and the quality of infrastructure.
2) Ever increasing demands by society for sustainable infrastructure solutions (ASCE’s Sustainability Strategic Initiative).
ASCE, as part of our Sustainability Strategic Initiative is taking the lead for our profession by pursuing a change in the planning, designing, constructing, operating and maintenance of infrastructure facilities on a policy and professional practice level.
3) The need to grow and retain technical and professional leadership and knowledge as the workforce matures.
ASCE, through its many sections, branches, student chapters and technical groups has the responsibility to attract and retain Civil Engineers as members and to provide those members opportunities to grow both technically and professionally, especially as the workforce matures.
3. What are the three greatest challenges facing ASCE during the 21st century and how should ASCE address them?
1) The need to remain relevant and dominant in a rapidly changing, highly competitive profession and personal environment.
There are ever increasing opportunities for our members to gain professional and personal experience and growth. As an organization we need to continue adapting to technology, including leveraging social media.
2) Maturing membership – the balance or lack of balance between those retiring from the profession when measure against those that are entering
We need to fully utilize our Life Members in roles of continued ASCE leadership service and to mentor incoming members and leadership.
3) Delivering on the challenge as the dominant professional organization for Civil Engineers.
ASCE needs to continue to expand its reach by providing an ever-increasing array or products, services and opportunities to gain professional and technical skills. The status quo as an organization is not an option.
4. What do you see as ASCE’s greatest strength(s)?
Our greatest strength is the depth and breadth of our organization; our members, sections, branches, committees, and technical groups. They are without equal in our profession. This continually places the organization in a position to lead our profession.
5. How can this strength or strengths be optimized?
We can optimize our strength as a large and diverse organization by focusing on effective leadership succession. It is essential that we assure there is organizational leadership training that members can rely upon as we continually renew the ranks of leadership.
6. What do you believe should be ASCE’s primary focus in the year ahead?
We need to support incoming President Gregory E. DiLoreto, P.E., P.LS., F.ASCE as he furthers ASCE's three long term strategic initiatives of Infrastructure, Raise the Bar and Sustainability. In particular, the publishing of additional infrastructure investment "Failure to Act" studies to supplement those already released regarding Surface Transportation and Water Resources is essential.
7. What do you see as ASCE’s primary challenges in the year ahead?
In addition to further implementation of the three Strategic Initiatives, a challenge in the year ahead and beyond is to increase the percent of student members transitioning into associate members upon graduation. These new associate members form the basis for future leadership needed as baby-boomers lessen their roles in our organization. As a member driven organization, effectively transitioning student members is essential to the future health of the organization.
8. What do you hope to accomplish in the year ahead?
For the year as President-Elect, I plan to focus on meeting and understanding the needs of section, branch and technical group leadership; especially to understand their needs for sustaining their leadership. As President, I plan to use that understanding to expand ASCE's organizational leadership training into a full catalog of opportunities for the benefit of our organization and as a direct member benefit of providing professional and personal leadership skills.
9. How can ASCE strengthen its ties to members?
We need to continually work to assure there are programs and opportunities for service for members as they transition through their professional career. ASCE is a large and diverse organization, so programs and opportunities for service need to be equally diverse, practice centric and appropriate for the member's point in their career. We currently offer our incoming and existing leadership training as part of the Multi-Regional Leadership Conferences, followed by the President’s and Governor’s Forum (ASCE Leadership 101 & 201). These programs need to be expanded to fully engage our membership in ASCE as they pass through their professional career.
10. What can ASCE do to draw more people into the profession, especially more women and more members of minority groups?
The message that a career in Civil Engineering is rewarding due to its positive impact on society at large, our communities and directly to individuals is a universal message. The process of engaging with students to communicate the message of a rewarding professional career is best accomplished in a small group or one on one setting and therefore, is best accomplished by our sections, branches and technical groups in communities where they live and work. The effectiveness of reaching out to women and minority groups is enhanced if accomplished by role models that relate best to the students.
11. What do you think is the single most important objective the civil engineering profession must achieve within the next five years?
Achieving the message of infrastructure's impact on economic competitiveness in addition to the quality of life it brings. Competing for message space among topics such as healthcare, energy, or world conflicts, all of which require expenditures of personal and/or public funds is challenging. Raising the alarm of the current state of infrastructure in the absence very public failures is also challenging.
12. What do you believe is the single most important objective ASCE must achieve within the next five years?
ASCE, as the acknowledged organization for Civil Engineers and Civil Engineering has the responsibility to carry the message of infrastructure's impact on the economy. Breaking through on that message is the most important objective to achieve. With the publishing of the first two Failure to Act Studies, with more scheduled, ASCE has clearly begun to make that case.
13. What should ASCE’s role be in influencing public policy?
ASCE has the responsibility to influence public policy on behalf of our members and for the benefit of our profession. ASCE helps our members influence public policy through the annual Legislative Fly-In, government relations training and publishing of the infrastructure "Report Cards". Annually, the placement of a member working for Congressional staff through the Congressional Fellows Programs is yet another opportunity ASCE provides to influence public policy. ASCE also has a role in promoting the Civil Engineer as a public policy maker.
14. In specific actions, how can ASCE build on our 3 strategic initiatives a) Raise the Bar, b) Infrastructure and c) Sustainability?
Raise the Bar - It is essential to continue to pursue state engineering licensing boards most supportive of increased educational requirements for licensure. This effort would be particularly effective with ASCE members in place as voting members of those boards. Just as necessary are ASCE members able to influence state legislators to draft and vote on the necessary legislation.
Infrastructure - Breaking through on the message of the interconnectivity of quality infrastructure and economic competitiveness. The publishing of the first two Failure to Act infrastructure investment studies for Surface Transportation and Water Resources is the beginning of a series planned to focus on all major infrastructure areas. The completion of these studies is imperative.
Sustainability - Encourage our members to take stock of how their practice is engaging in sustainable planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance of infrastructure and to turn those examples into opportunities for section, branch and technical group programs.
15. What can ASCE do to strengthen participation from younger members and ensure that they remain engaged with ASCE throughout their careers?
Strengthening the participation of younger members in ASCE throughout their career will depend on ASCE's continuing ability to provide meaningful and relevant opportunities for service, training and recognition. This starts with engagement in ASCE leadership positions as early in one's career as possible. Mentoring by ASCE members is essential as is providing opportunities for younger members to interact with their peers.
Q&A with Committee on Younger Members