Board certification is among the best ways for civil engineers to demonstrate their expertise in a specialty area. A new five-year strategic and business plan for ASCE’s Civil Engineering Certification program will help more civil engineers do just that.

At its quarterly meeting, held in conjunction with the ASCE 2022 Convention Oct. 22-23 in Anaheim, California, the ASCE Board of Direction voted to approve the proposed Civil Engineering Certification strategic plan and appointed April Lander, a Society director representing Region 10, to also sit on the CEC board.

The new plan envisions expanding board certification to additional specialties and considering how certification could also serve early career professionals and the global civil engineering community.

“When surveyed over recent years, younger members have indicated that they are looking for leadership development and validation of expertise,” said ASCE 2022 President Dennis Truax. “The proposed extensions of the civil engineering certification program embrace both.”

ASCE established Civil Engineering Certification Inc. in 2004, and CEC now offers six board certifications –coastal engineering, geotechnical engineering, navigation engineering, ocean engineering, port engineering, and water resources engineering.

CEC plans to expand its offerings into other civil engineering disciplines and subdisciplines while also increasing the number of board-certified engineers.

It’s not a shift that was taken lightly. The ASCE Board of Direction started a process in 2018 of assessing and potentially revising the program. That led to creating the Task Committee to Resolve Certification, whose report to the board this spring preceded the new CEC strategic plan.

“ASCE has spent most of the year holding workshops and conducting interviews with stakeholders, employers, clients, and academicians in an effort to define market needs and the appropriate value proposition for the new CEC strategic plan,” Truax said. “We’re excited to watch this program grow and further support our industry and our workforce.”

The future of ASCE conferences

The ASCE Board of Direction also voted to support an ambitious proposal that would reshape the ASCE conference calendar in five years.

The ASCE 2027 plan, as presented to the board by the Technical Region Board of Governors Future of Conferences Task Committee, would recast the annual ASCE Convention as a “hub and spoke” event that incorporates flagship ASCE institute conferences into one larger joint conference.

“The alternative format proposed for our annual convention in 2027 provides a number of opportunities for a really positive experience by attendees,” Truax said. “Having the institutes meet in the same place at the same time allows an exchange of ideas that isn’t currently possible. Sharing events common to all conferences allows for both economy and broader interaction for the members. And by having so many people attend a conference, it can be a more dynamic experience while reducing overall cost and increasing the opportunities for learning and professional development.”

It should be noted too that 2027 marks ASCE’s 175th anniversary. While no specific plans are yet confirmed, the board did endorse the overall plan and concept, while appointing former ASCE board member and SEI president David Odeh as the chair of a newly created ASCE 2027 Planning Committee that will work with the executive committee on next steps.

Other meeting highlights

  • The organization has a new strategic plan, effective immediately as approved by the board. Read more about the plan at Civil Engineering Source.
  • The board directed the Governing Documents Committee to formalize the Student Presidential Group as an official Society entity. It will report to the executive committee.
  • Future World Vision momentum continues to build with new features in the desktop app. The board also received an update on the forthcoming Cities of the Future giant-screen film, drawn in part from Future World Vision research. The film will debut during the ASCE 2023 Convention in Chicago.
  • The board approved a plan to enhance the effectiveness of its meetings beginning in 2023. The plan will reset the board calendar to include six virtual meetings per year aimed at providing informational and progress reports on key initiatives along with four in-person meetings focused on board deliberation and action.
  • The board also approved a new Committee on Infrastructure Risk Management, which will be housed within the Committee on Technical Advancement, with an eye on creating a metric for infrastructure risk, not unlike what Envision is for sustainability. “Risk management means many different things to many different civil engineers,” Truax said. “This committee will unify the conversation regarding risk in ways that currently are not done and allow our profession a process for managing risk and uncertainty in a time of great change.”