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A Younger Member's Perspective: LA YMF is a Hub of Leadership, Growth and Fun

By Omar A. Sanchez, E.I.T., A.M. ASCE, LA YMF Newsletter Editor/Scholarship Chair

Photos by Paul Choy, P.E., M. ASCE, LA YMF Historian

LA YMF K-12 VisitIt hit me.  It hit me again just like it did at Cal Poly Pomona when I was driven to participate in the ASCE Student Steel Bridge Competition.  After working with a firm that jump-started my career in roadway design during some time in college and after graduation, I ended up moving to the Los Angeles area for work with a general contractor.  The economy struck and it created an opportunity for me to try a change.  With hopes of one day becoming a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of California, and continuing with my career in design, it became evident that getting back to a local ASCE Younger Member Forum (YMF) would help me in this quest to be my best at becoming a professional and remain young at heart.  Being an ASCE Los Angeles (LA) YMF member for over 3 years has taught me that this active group has all the characteristics any young civil engineer can look into for leadership opportunities. 

LA YMF Habitat for HumanityIt is an art to blend leadership and followership to accomplish a mission and LA YMF does that through professional development, social activities, community service, government affair activities, K-12 and university outreach.  There are various seminars, technical tours, and the P.E. Review Course which assists members with professional development.  Whether it is the monthly Happy Hours or annual soccer tournaments, members have many choices to fill up their social calendars.  Keeping our beaches clean or helping other organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, are a few examples of our community service activities.  LA YMF Beach CleanupThe Government Affairs Committee (Branch level) is a trailblazer when it comes to politics and they work closely with LA YMF teaching us to speak up to elected officials regarding infrastructure (See 2013 Winter YMF Newsletter on Page 33 to review an insightful interview).  Students ranging from K-12 and the university level are the future leaders and LA YMF members reach out through a myriad of events such as building bridges out of toothpicks and gumdrop candy, providing scholarship opportunities, and hosting resume workshops.  LA YMF followers and leaders chisel their skill set in a platform that practices and promotes excellence.  It is contagious as there are many enthusiastic professionals.

LA YMF SoccerLA YMF is a grassroots movement and everyone thrives on learning, taking on challenges, and having fun.  It is appealing because of the large range and diverse networking opportunities.  One LA YMF mentor I have, Liz Calderon, showed me about newsletter editing to practice my writing skills for proposal preparation.  A Japanese proverb I learned from Liz is, “The Bamboo that Bends Is Stronger Than the Oak that Resists.”  Everyone is strong so why not practice your skill set with ASCE. 

As you may be aware, LA YMF has been actively working with Orange County, San Bernardino/Riverside, Santa Barbara/Ventura, and Southern San Joaquin YMF groups for the 2013 Centennial Year to celebrate the 100 years of leadership that ASCE Los Angeles Section has provided to our profession and community.  View some of LA YMF’s events; feel free to check out any of our events in the near future.