ASCE and infrastructure; infrastructure and ASCE. It’s impossible to separate the two.

And now the Society's official branding will say as much.

As part of its fall meeting at the ASCE 2023 Convention in Chicago, the ASCE Board of Direction voted to approve changes to the ASCE branding guidelines, approving a new tagline for use with the Society acronym: “ASCE: Infrastructure Leaders | Building Communities.”

“If you ask somebody what a civil engineer does, they might not know. But everybody knows what infrastructure is,” said ASCE 2023 President Maria C. Lehman, who was running her final board meeting as president.

“Infrastructure has been a buzzword for a while. And I think in terms of branding, everything we’ve done with the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure the past 25 years, people get it. And I think they get it now more than ever.”

Lehman noted the recent bipartisan infrastructure law, and ASCE’s role in – and widespread credit for – making it a reality.

“Listen, we own the subject,” Lehman said. “We have a brand that is so respected and so admired around the world. And this is who we are.

“Infrastructure is us.”

The Board Strategic Advisory Council brought the change to the board, citing better alignment with the organization’s new strategic plan goals to grow and engage membership globally that is more inclusive of all members of the infrastructure team.

Workforce work

It was a particularly busy meeting for the Board Strategic Advisory Council, which also presented a civil engineering workforce report from its Workforce Development Subcommittee.

Civil engineering workforce shortfalls are well-documented at this point. The subcommittee, chaired by Ray Daddazio, former president of Thornton Tomasetti, positioned ASCE as a key driver to workforce solutions for both the short- and long-term.

Among the subcommittee’s suggested roles for ASCE to take in workforce development:

  • Promoting recruitment and retention best practices.
  • Understanding the components of civil engineering workforce development, including defining each role on the civil engineering team.
  • Partnering with leading organizations in specific areas to act as a force multiplier.
  • Advocacy for priority workforce development initiatives, including those affecting compensation.
  • Developing training and education courses and programs to cater to evolving needs and to bridge skill-gaps.
  • Showcasing the “wow” factor and purpose of civil engineering.

The subcommittee’s recommendations follow a recent collaboration between ASCE and the National Governors Association that produced a report and webinar addressing workforce issues.

“The workforce issues are the backbone of all the issues we’re dealing with right now in the industry, so we have to have a comprehensive plan,” Lehman said. “I was really glad that BSAC took this on.

“It’s all hands on deck, working the whole pipeline, and rethinking what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

Implementing the new strategic plan

The BSAC/Program and Finance Committee Joint Subcommittee on Strategic Alignment also delivered a report as a follow-up to a March BSAC Subcommittee on Strategic Plan Implementation report on streamlining the Society’s structure and budget process to better fit the new strategic plan.

The board voted to approve the subcommittee’s recommendations, which focused on three key areas: personalized member value, communities of practice, and a “One-ASCE” strategic budget process.

Among the many connected actions, the board:

  • Adopted the subcommittee’s guiding principles for delivering personalized member value with plans to incorporate them into all Society communications, programs, and activities.
  • Endorsed prioritizing five personas – different member types in different phases of their careers and with different kinds of needs.
  • Directed the Governing Documents Committee to prepare language adopting definitions for ASCE committees, communities of practice, working groups, and other entities.
  • Authorized Executive Director Tom Smith to identify sustainability and JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) as communities of practice pilots.
  • Established a three-tiered ASCE budget request framework.
  • Directed staff and the PFC to begin the annual budget preparation process earlier in the year.

Other meeting highlights

The board received progress reports on some of the organization’s newer and central enterprises, including the Standards Office and the Grants and Contracts Office – both moving quickly after being approved and launched in July – and the Accelerated Digital Strategy.

Two years after ASCE entered into a new agreement with the American Institute of Steel Construction for the Student Steel Bridge Competition, the board heard from a working group that included the Region 10 Board of Governors, the Committee on Student Conferences and Competitions, and the Structural Engineering Institute about the possibility of developing a more comprehensive global student steel bridge competition.

The board approved a path forward that encourages student groups in Region 10 to use AISC rules for their steel bridge competitions, suggests monitoring and supporting ASCE student symposia competitions in Region 10, and recommends global expansion of the competition at a time when there is enough momentum and support.