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President Elect Candidates Respond to Younger Members

The Committee on Younger Members reached out to ASCE Younger Members and submitted a list of questions to the President-Elect candidates that will help Younger Members get to know the candidates and their positions better. CYM would like to thank Robert D. Stevens and Mark Woodson for taking time to respond to these questions. Here are their responses:

1) CYM serves Younger Members across the country and we would like a statement that summarizes your support for them. Please complete this statement:

Stevens, Robert D.Robert D. Stevens 

"I am the best President-Elect candidate to represent ASCE's Younger Members because..."

I was a Younger Member once and still think of myself as young. It’s only when I look in the mirror that I realize I no longer look like a Younger Member! I joined ASCE as a Student Member and have been actively involved for some 50 years. As a Younger Member I recall the frustrations of being “the young ambitious guy” who wanted to move faster than “the old guys”. I enjoy interacting with Younger Members and value their participation in ASCE both today and in the future when they progress to being “the old guys”. I value the fact that we are all members of the same Society. We need interaction among our diverse membership. All 140,000 members are important and should feel a part of the overall ASCE wherever they are or whatever stage of life they’re in.

Woodson, Mark W.Mark Woodson

"I am the best President-Elect candidate to represent ASCE's Younger Members because..."

I believe that this is one of the most important ways to develop the future leaders of ASCE. Our Younger Member programs provide networking and leadership opportunities to civil engineers early in their
professional careers that will benefit them and ASCE for years to come. We need to continue to improve on this support and the programs and opportunities that we provide. 

2) Please list examples of how you have supported Younger Member activities and the health of Younger Member Groups nationally, regionally and/or locally. Do you see an opportunity to enhance your support of these activities as President, and if so, how would you seize that opportunity?

Stevens, Robert D.

Robert D. Stevens

I supported the T&DI BOG decision to hold several roundtables with Younger Members belonging to T&DI. These roundtables helped T&DI better serve and attract Younger Members. I was there when T&DI took action to add a Younger Member Governor position to the BOG. I believe that the T&DI BOG has benefited from and serves its members better with a Younger Member as one of the Governors. I was on the Technical Region BOG when we discussed what, if anything, each of the eight Institutes was doing relative to Younger Members. As a result of those discussions other Institutes have considered adding a Younger Member to their BOG.

I attended portions of the CYM sessions at the three MRLCs this year and last year. This gave me the opportunity to meet and talk with a number of Younger Members. I welcome opportunities to serve as a mentor that the MLRC gave me. I’ve had other opportunities to talk with student groups and am encouraged that a large percentage of them are planning to go on for a master’s degree.

As President I will continue talking with Younger Members at the MRLC and whenever given the opportunity. In those talks I’ll emphasize that while social opportunities are a important part of being an ASCE member, there is much more that ASCE offers. I’ll continue to encourage Younger Members to look at opportunities to get more involved with ASCE’s professional and technical activities. Technical activitiesre found in the Sections and Branches and in the Institutes and the Committee on Technical Advancement. It’s also important for Younger Members to nominate potential award winners, serve as mentors to new Younger Members and students, and help more students to transition their ASCE membership when they graduate. One gets more from ASCE by being more involved.

Woodson, Mark W.

Mark Woodson

While serving at the Branch and Section level in Arizona I was part of the group that encouraged and supported the formation and continued success of the two YMF groups in the State. Most recently, as a Governor on the T&DI Board, we’ve added a Younger Member as a voting member of the Board. As continued opportunities present themselves, ASCE needs to weigh the benefits and determine if additional younger member opportunities, programs and activities are beneficial to the Society overall. And if so, incorporate them into member programs. As President, I would ask that all groups within ASCE review and promote these opportunities.

3) In your own words, please summarize the mission of CYM and its role within the Society. Do you have any ideas for CYM programs or resources that could convey our mission to Younger Members across the country?

Stevens, Robert D.

Robert D. Stevens

The mission of CYM is to help Younger Members in their professional development and in their engagement with and participation in the Society. Having served on the BOD last year when the reorganization of ASCE Board and Standing Committees was approved, I believe the reorganization will help to advance this mission. Now that CYM, the Committee on Student Members, and the Leader Training Committee are part of the new Member Communities Committee, with its focus on members rather than membership, CYM has the opportunity to have more influence and interaction with student and leader training activities and thus bolster their own activities and give more benefit to Younger Members.

It’s critical for CYM to keep its members informed about opportunities they have in other parts of ASCE beyond those of CYM. These opportunities could be in technical activities such as working on a professional or technical committee, preparing papers for journals and presentations for conferences, and nominating Younger Members for awards as there are a number of awards designated specifically for Younger Members.

I suggest that the Younger Member pages on ASCE’s web site be kept more up to date. I just looked at the page and the latest Newsletter on it is called Issue 77 with no date. Issue 77 deals with late 2012 and early 2013 events. If these pages are to be of value to Younger Members as a place they want to go to find out what is happening, it needs to be current.

I also suggest that it’s important for CYM to: 1) serve ASCE Younger Members who are outside of the United States, 2) encourage Younger Members to get their professional registrations as soon as possible, and 3) take advantage of the ASCE-EWB link where engineers can do a short-term project to help improve people’s lives. I serve on the EWB-USA BOD and see the value created by this link.

Woodson, Mark W.

Mark Woodson

CYM should provide a place within ASCE where younger members can get together and develop their careers, leadership skills and lifelong friendships. It should provide a place where recent graduates will fit in with members who have also recently made the transition from college to the workplace. It should provide a place to young professionals to learn to balance work and their new life away from the classrooms; which
may include starting a new family.

4) What are the top three priorities of your Presidency and how can CYM and Younger Members assist you in achieving these goals?

Stevens, Robert D.

Robert D. Stevens

We need to continue our Society’s focus on our three current strategic initiatives: Infrastructure, Sustainability and Raise the Bar. We are making progress on these initiatives with plans in place to accomplish them. I do, however, believe that we need to define for each of them what “mission accomplished” means.

With that said, my top three priorities as President will be to: 1) communicate with members to learn more about what we should be doing and could be doing better, 2) make the 2014 annual conference to be held in Panama the most successful ever by attracting people from all over the world as we showcase civil engineering accomplishments like the Panama Canal, and 3) hold the first showing of “Real Big”, an ASCE proposed IMAX film and associated educational materials.. It will promote engineering by showing engineering accomplishments and engineering contributions to people’s lives. It will help attract more young people to engineering. Real Big will move forward if enough funds can be raised from donors so as to not impact other Society endeavors and Society dues.

Civil engineering is ranked #29 on US News’ “The 100 Best Jobs” list which indicates that it’s a good career choice. With this ranking and with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projection of nearly a 20% growth in civil engineering jobs over a 10-year period, we need to help promote our profession as one where you can make a difference in people’s lives.

Younger Members can help in all of this by: 1) continuing to support the preparation of Report Cards, 2) participating as Key Contacts to support enactment of ASCE policies, 3) establishing links with elected officials, 4) becoming certified in sustainability, 5) promoting Raise the Bar, 6) providing comments to me as President and the other elected leaders of ASCE, 7) deciding to participate in the 2014 Annual Conference, 8) getting the message out to attract students to civil engineering as a great profession, and 9) mentoring civil engineering students to make sure they get benefit from being a Student Member of ASCE and successfully make the transition to a Younger Member of ASCE.

Woodson, Mark W.

Mark Woodson

1 ) Membership value continues to be a challenge, especially in these economic times.

Throughout my term on the ASCE Board, I have worked to ensure that we provide the greatest services and benefits to our members. With changing economic conditions, technology and membership diversity, this remains a challenge that we need to stay focused on. Younger Members need to be a strong part of the discussion as to what services we provide and how we provide them to our members in the future.

2 ) Continued leadership with Infrastructure and Sustainability.

Our profession must insure that the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure are a priority in private and public projects of the future, while also helping to provide solutions to repair or replace the aging infrastructure that our communities have to deal with today. We need to continue to educate the public and governmental entities as to the importance of sustainable infrastructure and how it affects our economic well-being and quality of life. As our younger members are the future of ASCE, they need to be fully engaged in these conversations.

3) Our international membership continues to grow and we need to continue to develop this part of the organization.

When we look to the future, we can see an ASCE with as many international members as we have within the US. The recent Task Committee on Global Strategy report to the Board outlines steps on how we will better engage this membership. We need to follow-up on the recommendations of the committee and develop actions to achieve a global ASCE. We need to engage younger members around the world in these discussions, and we can start by using modern technologies such as web-meetings, to connect the participants.

5) How would you, as President, encourage Younger Member involvement in Society-level committees? Do you believe that Younger Members should be sought for all 9 Board and Society Committees? On what other committees do you believe Younger Members should serve to benefit the Society?

Stevens, Robert D.

Robert D. Stevens

The new on-line process for getting involved in Society committees is in place. It allows anyone who is interested in serving on a committee where the President-elect makes the appointment to submit an expression of interest in serving. I encourage Younger Members to look into it to express interest during the next opportunity in April 2014. Some of the committees have slots that must be filled by persons who represent a particular part of the Society such as a Region Governor, an Institute Governor, etc. Other positions are open to anyone. There are also many opportunities to serve on committees which are under the Society Committees and those housed in the Institutes.

Yes, I believe Younger Members should get on every committee that they can get on. Unless there is a particular requirement as I mentioned for some committee positions, committees are open to anyone. To get on one you need to be proactive. You can’t sit back and hope to get on. Volunteer to be on a committee and do it with enthusiasm. Some Younger Members have found a way to be involved. More need to do so. I believe from what I’ve seen in the Institutes that there is a strong interest in having more Younger Members involved. Giving Younger Members the opportunity to serve on an Institute BOG allows them to gain experience that should help them get involved in other ASCE committees and boards.

Woodson, Mark W.

Mark Woodson

As a member of the T&DI Board, I was a part of the decision to add a Younger Member as a voting member of the Board. We didn’t see this as a difficult decision and I don’t think it has to be for other Boards and Committees. I think that we can look at all committees across the Society structure and we will find that most if not all would be appropriate for the addition of a younger member. As President I would promote this as another avenue to develop our future leaders in the Society through active involvement and participation early in their careers.

6) While Webinars are a cost-effective method for Younger Members to spread general content, talking points and skills, CYM does not believe they can replace the face-to-face interaction that comes from attending live conferences and events. Currently CYM provides live programming at the ASCE Annual Conference, Multi-Region Leadership Conferences, ASCE Legislative Fly-In and the Presidents and Governor's Forum. As President, how will you support continued funding of these live programs?

Stevens, Robert D.

Robert D. Stevens

I too believe live, face-to-face meetings are important. However, unreimbursed travel costs and time away from work can make attendance at live events difficult particularly for Younger Members. I agree that various ways, including webinars, conference calls using web cams, and face-to-face meetings and conference, are appropriate. I understand that the Leadership Training Committee is reviewing how it has been doing training and how it might be done better such as at the MRLCs.

Development of ASCE’s annual budget is an arduous process. Having served on the Program Committee and as a member and chair of a number of committees that have submitted budget requests over the years, I have a good understanding of the process. More is usually requested than is available. The budget requests are reviewed by the Program & Finance Committee who recommends a budget and any adjustment in dues to the BOD for their action.

I do favor continued funding of live events and look forward to seeing what the Leadership Training Committee comes up with for those live activities they handle.

Woodson, Mark W.

Mark Woodson

These are important programs and great venues for younger member participation and networking. All programs within ASCE, not just programs for younger members, need to be regularly reviewed to determine if they are providing the highest value to the greatest number of members. We have limited resources and need to provide the best benefit possible to all members. To retain or expand programs specific to younger members, especially face-to-face, may require efforts by the younger members themselves to determine how they can provide the resources to retain or expand their programs.

7) Over the past few years, opportunities and funding for Younger Member leadership training and development has been reduced by ASCE. How would you propose to increase the exposure of Younger Members to additional training and leadership development? What would this program look like to you and how would it be funded?

Stevens, Robert D.

Robert D. Stevens

The Society’s overall FY13 budget was 96.6% of the FY12 budget. Dues were increased to keep the reduction to this level. With this overall reduction, a number of budgets were reduced including CYM’s. As the table and chart below show, the CYM budget for FY12 was more than that for FY09-FY11. FY13 was also more than that for FY09-FY11 but less than FY12. The CYM request for FY14 as submitted by MCC is $112,030/46,800/65,230 which is closer to FY12 than to FY13. This FY14 CYM request is now in the hands of the Program & Finance Committee and then the BOD. This budget amount, if approved, will help meet the desires of CYM for more training and leadership development for Younger Members.

I suggest looking for sponsors who might provide materials, conduct training, and provide funds for Younger Member training. Many engineering employers already provide internal training for their employees. If CYM hasn’t already done so, I would encourage CYM to survey its members to determine needed training so that a focused program and budget could be developed.

Stevens Budget Response

Woodson, Mark W.

Mark Woodson

Over the past few years, opportunities and funding for programs at all levels of ASCE have been reduced. The economic recession has had a significant impact all across ASCE. We need to work together, not as individual entities, to restore vitality to ASCE and its member programs. While the Younger Member group has important programs in leadership training and development, we need to work together to return and expand programs to all levels of members in ASCE. As to increased exposure and additional programs, I support ASCE’s efforts to continue to involve the younger members in the dialogue to develop and fund new opportunities. I’d want to hear from the members what it is that they would want us to provide.

8) Do you believe Sections and Branches should be encouraged to support a budget for Younger Member activities through the use of Section/Branch funds proportional to their Younger Member population?

Stevens, Robert D.

Robert D. Stevens

Anything that strengthens a section or branch is something I would expect a section or branch to want to support. As you know, sections and branches control their budgets and decide how to spend them. There are some strong Younger Member groups at the local level. The key is local Younger Members who want to make it happen. Without volunteers who push it, it won’t happen.

I do not support suggesting funding proportional to the Younger Member population. Instead I would suggest to section and branch leaders that they provide funding consistent with the effort the Younger Members are willing to put into having a productive Younger Member group.

I would also encourage the local leaders to make sure that the Younger Members don’t forget that they are part of the section or branch that is supporting them. Working together for the good of all members is critical. I’ve heard of a Younger Member group who had a Younger Member/Life Member event. This is a great way for Younger Members to have the opportunity to hear life stories and get answers to questions about their career and the profession.

Woodson, Mark W.

Mark Woodson

This may be necessary in some areas of ASCE, but I don’t think in all cases. The two younger member groups in Arizona have always shown themselves to be very good at generating funds for their own programs and needs as well as to help with donations and giving within their communities. I would want to look at areas where this is not working and see if there are ways to share the success stories of others. I would also encourage the Younger Member groups who are in need of help to work more with their local Section or Branch to gain their support.

9) Can you suggest some ways Younger Members can engage employers to support Younger Member activities?

Stevens, Robert D.

Robert D. Stevens

A meeting of CYM with ASCE’s Industry Leaders Council would be a good way to explore this. Such an interaction could give CYM the insights of some of our industry’s leaders on how to get more employer support for Younger Members. In my experience most of our industry leaders understand the importance of employees who enjoy their work, know what is expected, have a defined career development path, and have a
balance between work and home.

Another action that Younger Members could take is to make sure their supervisors know what they are doing at ASCE and how that is of value to them and to the company. Employers are more inclined to give support when they get something out of it and when they know there is a benefit for the employee. Preparing a paper, making a presentation, being active on a committee, being a leader of a Younger Member group, working with students who might become employees are some of the many ways to gain support. Unfortunately there are some employers who are not allowed to support employee participation in ASCE activities. Fortunately there are many who do. They just need to be asked.

Woodson, Mark W.

Mark Woodson

If I’m already convinced that activities relative to ASCE are good for my employees and company, then I’m going to be supportive. However; as an employer, I always want to know what’s in it for the company or agency. If I can see the networking and leadership training as a benefit to my company, then I’m going to be supportive. Younger Members who are looking for support need to be willing to give a lot of their own time and resources to show their commitment. Don’t expect an employer or agency to give anything without first being willing to make that sacrifice yourself. These are all important elements to gain support for any endeavor that you may undertake in life.