I am truly humbled to have the opportunity to prepare this Vision Statement as a tool to work with ASCE Members and future ASCE Boards of Direction.
The ASCE Board of Direction approved the following six goal statements for the Society during its October 2017 Board meeting in New Orleans, LA:
- Civil engineers develop and apply innovative, state-of-the-art practices and technologies.
- All infrastructure is safe, efficient, and sustainable.
- ASCE advances the educational and professional standards for civil engineers.
- The public values civil engineers' essential role in society.
- An ever-growing number of civil engineers are members of, and engage in, ASCE.
- ASCE excels in strategic and operational effectiveness.
ASCE must continue to provide "member value" and maintain the Society's Vision, Mission and Goals to (paraphrase) building a better quality of life while protecting the public's health, safety and welfare. ASCE does have other challenges such as organizational membership, finances and effectiveness (member value). We, as an Organization, must have the proper balance of the strategic vision, goals and objectives.
ASCE issued its 2017 Report Card with a D+ infrastructure grade and a $2+ trillion funding gap. Since the initial ASCE Report Card in 1998, the highest overall grade received has been a D+. We all know that our current and past Report Cards are not acceptable as we continue to lose ground on improving our Infrastructure.
I was reading the October 2017 issue of Car and Driver magazine and much to my surprise, the ASCE Report Card was mentioned in their article "Infrastructure Rupture - Rating the Terribleness of American Roads". This was an excellent article that could have been published in ASCE Civil Engineering magazine. The article included roads in all 50 states with the number of road miles and percentage of road miles in poor condition; number of bridges with the percentage of structural deficient bridges and the gasoline tax per gallon sold in each state. This article certainly opened my eyes that the ASCE Report Card is infiltrating in many areas, not just engineering circles!
The Report Card together with the six goal statements and the future Strategic Plan(s) are intertwined. The sustainability of our quality of life will heavily depend on our political leaders making decisions to stop "kicking the can down the road". It is up to us to educate elected officials, cutting through the "bureaucracy" and ultimately investing in our infrastructure (existing and proposed).
For those of us involved in ASCE for any period of time, we know that ASCE is full of acronyms. Therefore, I would like to put on a public relations/marketing "hat" and introduce a new "campaign" acronym, and embark:
I³ (I-cubed), Invest(ment)In Infrastructure
While efforts are being made across our country to invest in our infrastructure, more has to be done. Our political leaders at the local, state and federal levels must come together to make I³ a reality. Our Investment In Infrastructure will not happen overnight. However, we must educate our leaders and citizens on the significant benefits to our quality of life by investing in our Nation's infrastructure.
I³ must represent bold and intelligent solutions to bringing America's infrastructure to a respectable/acceptable level as determined by future ASCE report cards. Infrastructure has a certain design life -- it does not last forever. When the design life is exceeded, negative occurrences -- including loss of life -- could happen. Much of our infrastructure may be considered "out of sight, out of mind", however, that does not obviate the need to maintain and update our infrastructure.
Public Funds are sometimes not properly prioritized and unfortunately, infrastructure improvements suffer. Publicly funding new sports stadiums across the country are glitzy and great for their economic impacts, but are they really necessary? When public funds are scarce, infrastructure priorities are neglected.
As I was watching the 2017 Baseball World Series, a comment was made that the Los Angeles Dodger Stadium, a privately funded stadium, was built in 1962. It is the third oldest major league ballpark, and is holding up well after 55 years. Therefore, public funding is not necessary to build and maintain such entertainment facilities.
Politicians must include Investments In Infrastructure as a priority.
I believe some I³ has already begun in our country. For example, in 2017, voters approved a penny sales tax increase for infrastructure improvements in Palm Beach County, Florida. These types of initiatives can be done throughout our Nation. We as an organization, we as Americans, must shift into a higher gear to move I³ into the fast lane.
Failure of our infrastructure is not an option! The message has to infiltrate every town, village, borough, city, county, state and federal governing body.
As I stated earlier, I put on a public relations/marketing "hat" and we, as ASCE, must get the I³ campaign message out to all. The message must get down to the grass roots of our governing bodies. I³ must become part of our culture.
Investing In Infrastructure is key to our future quality of life. So let's "Dream Big" and Invest In Infrastructure ! ASCE Members, let's make this Vision a reality.
Life, as we know it, would not be possible without Civil Engineers and the Engineering Profession. Let's embrace our profession and let others know what we do to serve Society as a whole.
I promise you that I will work intensely with ASCE Members and the ASCE Board of Direction to maintain ASCE as the premier Civil Engineering Society in the World!