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A Younger Member's Perspective: A Story of ASCE Transitions

By John Frauenhoffer, Region 3 Director  

First Transition:
Frauenhoffer_JohnI began my ASCE career in 1975 immediately after graduation and found a welcoming group of civil engineers in the East Branch of the Central Illinois Section.  Some were University of Illinois professors.  These branch members made my transition very smooth and simple.  It was heartwarming to be welcome, and I felt at home.  My interest was threefold:
1.    I wanted to meet successful ASCE members and learn from their experiences.
2.    I wanted to read ASCE publications to grow technically.
3.    I wanted to make friends.
I have continuously benefitted from local branch participation with my role morphing as my career progressed.  Some of the East Branch members became good friends, and some became clients.  I will always treasure my branch home.

In 1980, I opened a one-person engineering firm, specializing in structural and forensic engineering.  I endeavored to provide structural engineering services to civil engineering firms without the structural discipline in-house.

Second Transition:
I wanted to increase my services in forensic engineering.  I was interested in using my Masters Degree education in structural behavior to study failures, deterioration, and performance problems.  In the mid-1980’s, Civil Engineering magazine featured an article regarding the potential formation of a Technical Council on Forensic Engineering, and the founders were meeting during the Annual Conference in Houston.  I attended my first Annual Conference and joined the founders meeting.  Through ASCE, I knew some of the participants and simply diligently participated and offered to help.  Just as my experience in the East Branch was welcoming, my introduction to the Technical Council was equally welcoming.
In 1985, I became a member of the Council’s Committee on the Dissemination of Failure Information, where we organized multiple Annual Conference sessions on constructed facility performance.  In 1987, I became committee chair.  In 1990, I chaired the Technical Council on Forensic Engineering.  It was a fulfilling experience and a resume builder.

From 1995 through 2009, my engineering practice exploded, and my travel schedule eclipsed the possibility of leadership roles in ASCE.  I continued to participate in my branch and section, I attended some of the Annual Conferences, and I continued reading ASCE publications.

Third Transition:
John at Play

I planned to sell my firm in 2009 and was researching new opportunities for my energies inside and outside of ASCE.  Through ASCE News, I learned that a governor position was open in Region 3.  I decided that it was time to give back to the profession that I loved and ran for Region 3 Governor.  I was elected to the 3-year term and wanted to help the Region’s Section and Branches develop strong programs for its members.  These efforts were rewarding and led to my re-election to a second term.  During that term, I ran for the open ASCE Board of Direction seat representing ASCE and was fortunate to have the support of the majority of the ASCE voters.

My Advice

1. Get started, keep working, and be loyal.
2. ASCE has many opportunities, technically and organizationally. Pick what you would find rewarding and go participate!
3. ASCE participation will yield personal and professional relationships.  Savor these relationships and reap the rewards!
4. Civil Engineering is a large part of your life.  Be a part of ASCE and help make this profession relevant, prosperous, and progressive!