photo of NIAC meeting
President Biden enters a recent meeting of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council at the White House. ASCE Past President Maria Lehman is seated top right.

ASCE has helped move and shape society for 171 years now, but it’s not every day civil engineers get an audience with the sitting American president.

But there ASCE Past President Maria C. Lehman was at the White House, Wednesday, Dec. 13, updating President Biden on infrastructure and ASCE activities.

“Infrastructure investment needs to be resilient if we are to provide assurance that it will perform throughout its anticipated design life, which can be 50 to 60 years,” Lehman said Wednesday as part of her presentation to the president, “especially when subject to today’s climate stressors and strategic nation-state threats. Wise spending of public dollars demands nothing less, and municipal bondholders and private investors need assurance that their investment will provide an appropriate return.”

Lehman has served as vice chair of President Biden’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council since September 2022.

Wednesday marked the latest NIAC meeting, also serving as an opportunity to present Biden with the 2023 ASCE President’s Medal, recognizing outstanding contributions to the profession, the Society, or the public. Biden in 2022 signed into law, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Workforce development, particularly as it pertains to attracting more minorities and women to the profession, was a key topic at the NIAC meeting, and Lehman updated the president on the various related ASCE activities, including Future World Vision and the upcoming giant-screen film Cities of the Future.

“Not only do we not have a big enough pipeline but it leaks,” Lehman said during the ASCE 2023 Convention in Chicago in October. “That’s why workforce development – Cities of the Future, Future World Vision, the whole suite of things we’re doing at ASCE – is critically important. We have to get people excited about infrastructure. This is an all-hands-on-deck thing to really rethink what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”