IMAGE FULL WIDTH ALT TEXT Courtesy Virginia Section
ASCE 2022 President Dennis Truax was the guest of honor at the Virginia Section's centennial gala in March.

Here’s a history question for you, Jeopardy! style. The category: It happened in this year.

The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated. 

Construction begins on the original Yankee Stadium.

The Hollywood Bowl officially opens.

The Teapot Dome scandal.

Warren Harding delivers the first broadcast of a presidential speech.

Betty White, Helen Gurley Brown, Judy Garland, and Jack Kerouac are born.

ASCE adds to its roster of 33 localized sections with five. (Today there are 76 sections in the U.S., plus 18 internationally.)

The correct response: What is 1922?

That year, as post-World War I American expansion was creating more demand for civil engineers, ASCE welcomed new sections serving members in the Dayton and Toledo, Ohio areas; Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania; Sacramento, California; and Virginia. 

One hundred years later, those sections remain vital and active and are celebrating their anniversaries. Of them, the Virginia Section’s activities have been among the most ambitious. It began work on its celebration plans several years ago under a special committee led by Victor Crawford, P.E., M.ASCE, who recognized a need to start planning early, as he also helmed the National Capital Section’s 2016 centennial planning. 

“The reason for being so ambitious was the visibility the centennial provides to the section,” Crawford told Civil Engineering Source. “Members become more involved in section and branch activities during the centennial year, so we wanted to take full advantage to grow the section by having many activities and products in progress that resulted in so many opportunities for volunteers to become involved.”   

Among them, the section created an extensive interactive map marking and describing each of Virginia’s seven national ASCE historic civil engineering landmarks and 25 state historic landmarks. For Crawford, of all celebration activities, the map was the most satisfying.

“We tried to have an interactive map for the National Capital Section centennial. However, the process was more difficult to find a platform for the interactive map back in 2016,” he said. “When we were successful for the Virginia centennial, we included all of Virginia’s landmarks and projects including those in the National Capital Section areas in Virginia.” The map also served as the basis for tours of the landmarks.

Planners had the foresight to create the map and a centennial pamphlet in such a way that they will live on beyond the celebration, to be used in outreach at schools and career fairs. The pamphlet “will be changed to an elementary-level introduction to civil engineering with four new pages that will have recent civil engineering graduates talk about what they do and how they became an engineer. Thus the centennial pamphlet will become a STEM tool with QR codes directing students and teachers to the online interactive map, our ‘100 Years and Beyond’ webpage, and the ASCE national landmarks webpage,” Crawford said. 

Other Virginia centennial events included a gala in March that featured ASCE 2022 President Dennis Truax as guest speaker, and a presentation of special centennial awards honoring ASCE members, supporting companies, and other outstanding public, private, and academic civil engineers. An official proclamation from the governor recognized the anniversary and commended the section and its members for their many contributions to the state’s infrastructure over the past century.

Section members also enjoyed a boat tour of bridges and other civil engineering projects in the Virginia Tidewater area, and a rededication ceremony for the landmark Crozet Tunnel in the Blue Ridge Mountains, complete with a new ASCE plaque detailing its significance. Throughout the year the section has been honoring its members with the selection of a centennial engineer of the month. 

Part of the Lehigh Valley Section's extensive celebration was timed to coincide with the release of the statewide Report Card for Pennsylvania's Infrastructure (that gave the state a cumulative grade of C-). Other section activities included the creation and publication of a photo book commemorating landmark infrastructure in the Lehigh Valley, and a centennial gala with ASCE 2023 Maria Lehman as featured speaker. 

Crawford shared some advice to other sections about to mark 100th anniversaries. “The key to an outstanding centennial is to start very early. Build a strong committee, get these volunteers working on many products and activities, but ensure there is plenty of time, so the centennial celebration is underway and not being planned in the centennial year.”