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Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, M.COPRI, M.ASCE


Vision Statement

I don't know if you have read ASCE's The Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025, but that document resonates with me. A loose quote from Vision 2025 is "Civil engineers are trusted leaders for a modern world: master builders, stewards of the environment, innovators, managers of risk, and leaders in public policy." The word leader pops up over and over. I envision that ASCE will lead the profession to a more sustainable world and enhanced global quality of life. The future that I see is one where civil engineers are the go-to people when it comes to enhanced infrastructure for a growing economy, wise use of our natural resources, well thought out mitigation and recovery from disasters, and public policy that makes sense.  

Let's move our focus to ASCE membership. What does ASCE mean to members? Members have many faces: student members striving to win the steel bridge or concrete canoe competition, younger members working to gain leadership skills and networking at branch events, practitioners honing technical skills via work within an Institute, civil engineering educators/researchers pushing the boundaries of knowledge and publishing in ASCE journals, international members looking to interact with likeminded stateside colleagues, and our life members who have a wealth of historical expertise. I envision a future where ASCE will, through members, lead the Society to a future where: the public knows that civil engineering, as a profession, safeguards society's health, safety and welfare; top high school students of all ethnicities, genders, and races choose civil engineering as a career; student members continue on as engaged members once they graduate and begin practice; global membership increases because all members (US and foreign born) see and get value in membership; and the Institutes and ASCE, as the mother-ship, interact regularly and share resources when it is economically beneficial.

We already have the Vision - and as a profession and a Society, we are moving toward those goals - but how do we best get there from here? Before we can aspire to be world leaders, we must make sure that the world will still regard civil engineering as a "profession". I've been an engineering academic for the last twenty years. In that time period, I have seen several other professional occupations move from requiring an undergraduate degree for entry into the profession to requiring a graduate degree. Think physical therapy - becoming a physical therapist today involves earning a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapy program and obtaining a state license, the degree requirement before 1990 was a baccalaureate, and it is now quickly moving to a required doctorate. Some government agencies today define a profession as an occupation that requires an advanced degree. Alternately, for engineers to enter into the profession, a baccalaureate in engineering is required. However, recent pressure from state legislators to reduce the number of hours required for an engineering Bachelor's degree has resulted in a landslide of BSCE degree programs reducing degree requirements to 120-128 credit hours. Couple this with additional "soft skills" courses in keeping with ABET requirements and an increasing amount of technical material an engineer should be familiar with (ASCE's Body of Knowledge), tomorrow's undergraduate engineering student may lack important technical courses. I believe that ASCE must be a leader in moving our profession into a future where the reputation of civil engineering as a profession is secure. One way to accomplish this is to continue working with NCEES on the "Bachelors+30" (NCEES calls it the "Masters or Equivalent") concept where professional engineering licensure will require additional education beyond the baccalaureate degree at some time in the future.

Now we should talk about the future of the profession as a world leader in stewardship of the built and natural environment. Civil engineers do plan, design, construct, and maintain the built environment. Who better than civil engineers to advocate for improved and renewed infrastructure, better maintained engineered systems and sustainable practices? Both the ASCE Report Card and Envision are great tools that are now used to let the public and our elected officials know about the state of our critical infrastructure. We need to persist in the education of the public and decision makers on the consequences of neglect of our infrastructure and continued unsustainable practices. And let's face it, those pre-1492 conquistadors were right: the world is flat - and it is shrinking - so this is even more important for our international members. Many international members are citizens of developing countries whose infrastructure needs are greater than those in the US. I see a great opportunity for ASCE's members to make an impact on the quality of infrastructure and the quality of life, both here in the US, but especially abroad.

Do our members have the tools needed to lead? The Dream Big! 3-D IMAX movie will be a great tool that members can use to lead kids to consider civil engineering as a career, as well as the general public to greater awareness of our profession. In leading our student members upon graduation into associate membership, practitioner advisors can play a key role. The concept of practitioner advisor needs to be re-energized and better implemented. Leadership skills can be taught. Leadership training is now being included in ASCE programs that reach our student, younger member, branch and section leaders. I believe that our institute leaders and leaders of our international groups should also have the opportunity to take part in this type of training.

Years ago, as a student, I was blest to have "fallen" into civil engineering as my chosen major. I now get great pleasure as an engineering educator in sharing my passion for civil engineering by teaching the next generation of civil engineers. As an outspoken leader, I will continue to be a role model in promoting diversity not only of gender, but of culture, ethnicity, nationality and thinking. And I sincerely hope the next phase of my life is to lead the American Society of Civil Engineers into a bright future.

Read the Vision Statement


  • Ph.D., Tulane University, 1994
  • BSCE, Tulane University, 1982
  • Licensed Professional Engineer - Louisiana

Work Experience

  • Professor, University of New Orleans (UNO) Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering (various positions), 1995-present
  • Past Chair of the UNO Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Past Interim Dean for the UNO College of Engineering, 2010-2012
  • Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, 1994-1995
  • Stepped down from an administrative position last year in order to focus on my ASCE commitments
  • Soft research interests: diversity, licensure and ethics issues in engineering and engineering education
  • Technical research interests: management of large watersheds, testing of engineering materials and structures, sustainable reuse of spent construction/fabrication materials, residual stress measurement
  • Prior to grad school, various firms as design and project engineer: Modjeski & Masters (bridge design), Guillot-Vogt Associates (AE, transportation, and industrial design), and Linder & Associates (oil and gas production/drilling project management)

ASCE Involvement

  • Executive Committee, 2011
  • Region 5 Director, 2009-2011
  • Chair, Region 5 Board of Governors, 2009-2011
  • Governor, Region 5 Board of Governors, 2006-2011
  • Secretary, Region 5 Board of Governors, 2007
  • Vice-chair, Region 5 Board of Governors, 2008
  • Past-President, Louisiana Section Board, 2005
  • Delegate, District 14 Council, 2004
  • President, Louisiana Section Board, 2004
  • President-elect, Louisiana Section Board, 2003
  • Secretary/Treasurer, Louisiana Section Board, 2002
  • Director, Louisiana Section Board, 2001
  • President, New Orleans Branch Board, 2000
  • President-elect, New Orleans Branch Board, 1999
  • Vice-President, New Orleans Branch Board, 1998
  • Treasurer, New Orleans Branch Board, 1997
  • Director, New Orleans Branch Board, 1995-1996
  • ASCE Foundation Council of Trustees, 2014-present
  • Committee on Infrastructure, 2014-present
  • Engineering Education Committee, 2012-2014
  • Program and Finance Committee, 2013-2014
  • Committee on Licensure, 2012-present
  • Leader Training Committee, 2011-2014
  • Program and Finance Committee, 2011-2013
  • Audit Committee, 2009-2011
  • Task Committee on Region-Student Relations, 2009-2010
  • Policy Review Committee, 2008-2010
  • Committee on Licensure and Ethics, 2007-2012
  • Task Force ASCE-AEI Technical Team - Assessment of Katrina Damage, 2006-2007
  • Committee on Women and Diversity in Civil Engineering, 2000-200
  • SEI New Orleans Chapter, Executive Committee, 1996-present; Chair, 1999-2000
  • Planning Committee, SEI 1999 Structures Congress
  • Louisiana Section, Louisiana Centennial Celebration Committee, 2013-2014
  • Chair, New Orleans Branch Outreach Committee, 1999-present
  • Chair, Louisiana Civil Engineering Conference and Show, New Orleans, LA, 2000
  • Spearheaded the ASCE Kid's Area Civil Engineering activity at the New Orleans Jazzfest, 1999-2012
  • Louisiana Civil Engineering Conference and Show Planning Committee, 1996-present

Other Volunteer Activities

  • Mississippi River Commission (MRC)
    • Appointed by President Obama as one of three civilian Commissioners for a nine year term, 2012
    • Advises Congress and the Administration on matters pertaining to the watershed from its headwaters in Minnesota to the Louisiana delta
    • Prosecutes the Mississippi River and Tributary Project (MR&T)
    • Commissioners meet with various US legislators and the Administration in Washington DC; attends all public meetings and briefings during two annual Mississippi River Inspection trips; interacts with a variety of stakeholders in the watershed and meets with sister commissions of other major overseas watersheds
  • Louisiana Licensing Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (LAPELS)
    • Appointed by Governor Kathleen Blanco in 2007 for a 6 year term, 2007-2013
    • Approved, as a Board, all applications for licensure of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, as well as Interns
    • Held hearings and made final judgments, as a Board, on all engineering and land surveying enforcement cases
    • Emeritus Member, 2013-present
    • Chair, LAPELS licensing board, 2012-2013; Executive Committee, 2011-2013; Secretary, 2011-2012
    • LAPELS committee work available upon request; chaired several LAPELS committees over that six year period
  • National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)
    • Emeritus Member, 2013-present
    • Consultant, Education Committee, 2013-2014; Chair, 2012-2013: charges included further developing the NCEES Registry as a way to facilitate evaluation of continuing professional competency credit hours and comity licensure, as well as continuing to further flesh out the Masters or Equivalent (MOE)
    • Chair, Education Task Force, 2011-2012
    • Chair, Education Awards Jury, 2012; Member, 2011 and 2013
    • Member, Alternate Pathway Licensure Task Force, 2010-2011: further developed the MOE concept, which is similar to ASCE's "B+30"
    • Member, Faculty Licensure Task Force, 2009-2010: recommended changes in NCEES model law regarding exams required for licensure of faculty
  • American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
    • Engineering Deans Council, 2010-2012
    • Ethics in Engineering Committee, 2005-2009
    • Awards Chair, ASEE Gulf Southwest Annual Meeting, 1998
  • Member, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority Nominating Committee, 2001-present
  • CORE Element Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Treasurer, 2010-present (STEM education
  • Louisiana Transportation Research Center Foundation Board of Directors, 2010-present, Policy Committee
  • Louisiana Technology Council, Board of Directors, 2012-present (LA workforce development
  • BLaST (First Lego League - STEM education), Board of Directors, Louisiana, 2010-201
  • Louisiana Council of Engineering Deans, 2010-2013
  • Judge, Greater New Orleans Engineering & Science Fair, 1996-present; Board member, 2010-present
  • Order of the Engineer, Installation leader, each semester, UNO Link
  • Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, member LA Beta Chapter, advisor to LA Epsilon Chapter
  • Society of Women Engineers, advisor to UNO Student Chapter
  • Planning Committee, American Concrete Institute Annual Convention, several conventions (Chaired Student Competition, 2009
  • Brownie/Girl Scout Troop Leader, 2007-2010
  • Brownie Troop Assistant Leader, 2005-2007


    • Married: Richard Louis Mattei III; 1985-present (technical sales)
    • Two daughters: Helen Claire Mattei (born 1993; TBP Epsilon Chapter, obtaining BSCE, December 2014) and Genevieve Carstens Mattei (born 1996; studying Biomedical Engineering)
    • Lifelong resident of New Orleans, LA