At a recent visit to the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M, the Society’s new president, Randall “Randy” S. Over, P.E., F.ASCE, discovered a quote from the 41st president of the United States: “Any definition of a successful life must include serving others.”
“I ask that you each reach into your heart and recommit to serving our profession,” said Over in his inaugural speech. “Help us influence our profession, ASCE, and the world…. In your quest for a successful life, please recommit to the joy of service to our profession, our members, and our communities.”
Over delivered his words at the October 11 ASCE Annual Business Meeting held at the Society’s 143rd Annual Civil Engineering Conference, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
As the new ASCE president, Over told the attendees that he intends to focus on 3 important things: the what, the how, and the who.
“The what is the Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025, the how is the Roadmap for Achieving the Vision, and the who is you and me as we strive to inspire, attract, and develop the future leadership of ASCE,” explained Over, a construction engineer responsible for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 12 (Cleveland Area) construction program. “As we pursue all three, we will become a global community focusing on making the world a better place for all of our citizens and exemplifying the ideal of service.”
Over went on to highlight the significance of The Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025, which was developed at a summit organized by ASCE in 2006 with the participation of some 60 civil engineering leaders and nonengineers from the United States and around the world. The vision was followed 2 years later with the publication of the plan Achieving the Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025: A Roadmap for the Profession. Vision 2025 has been embraced by ASCE and by many civil engineering organizations around the world as an aspirational set of goals that will help civil engineers become “entrusted by society to create a sustainable world and enhance the global quality of life.”
“But what about the who,” Over asked his audience. “In short, the who is our membership and our leadership; it’s you and me. We are the ones who must prepare our profession for the future by inspiring the leadership of tomorrow. That means going beyond that initial pull in our hearts and actively taking a role in attracting, developing, and retaining the next generation of ASCE leadership.
“So how do we do that? It starts with the current leadership, which means I am going to have to walk the talk and lead the way as president.”
Five Tactics to Achieve ASCE’s Goals
To accomplish these goals, Over said ASCE needs to focus on 4 tactics:
- Communicate leadership opportunities and paths for service throughout the Society.
- Enhance and expand ASCE organizational leadership training to grow our future leadership and help them grow in their own careers.
- Foster programs that attract and retain life members as mentors to future leaders and encourage them to continue their contributions as ASCE leaders.
- Support and grow programs that engage our membership in the global practice of civil engineering and grow a future- and globally focused leadership.
As Over observed, ASCE and its membership stand at a unique point in history. The Baby Boomer generation, to which Over belongs, is getting ready to leave the workforce and go into retirement. He believes it is up to the present generation to prepare the next generation of civil engineers to take over. “This is a significant generational shift,” said Over. “It requires our steadfast focus on the future leadership if we want to ensure that both ASCE and the profession continue to grow and achieve the goals of Vision 2025.”
Service to Others Is What Really Matters
A 1983 graduate of Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Over summed up the meaning of his professional life by paraphrasing a quote from Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“I believe that to be successful in life, service to others is what really matters” noted Over. “What we all give through our involvement in ASCE is service to the profession. Work on committees, outreach activities, seminars, and conferences are evidence of our desire to give back to our community of civil engineers.
“And as we grow, both individually and as a profession, we realize that along with our profession comes a duty, a responsibility, an honor, and yes, a joy to serve, to give back and make the path better for those who come after us. Civil engineers – and ASCE members in particular – really believe we can make a difference in the lives of other people.”
Recommitting to the Profession
Over remarked that many engineers, including himself, had clear opportunities to choose a different profession but later realized that civil engineering was about service to people and their communities, and that was what set the civil engineering profession apart from many others.
“For most of us, the message of service is internalized early on,” said Over, whose father, R. Stanton Over, P.E., F.ASCE; brother, Thomas M. Over, P.E., M.ASCE; and uncle, John Over, P.E., M.ASCE, are civil engineers and ASCE members. “For me, it may have been inherited in my genes and passed down from the long line of civil engineers in my family. For others of you, it may begin when you are students, when you recognize a strong feeling in your heart and then when, in your outward public actions, you become involved in our civil engineering community.”
“So this concept of service, taking to heart the calling of our profession, is essential,” Over said. “What I’ve found over the past year, and really, for many years prior, is the ever-present feeling that we as a profession and as a professional society are doing 'good' [and that]…is why we chose to become civil engineers.”