These days, even when the topic at hand isn’t workforce specifically, the conversation is still kind of about workforce.

That’s 2024 in the civil engineering industry, and, certainly, that was the case at the ASCE Board of Direction winter meeting, Jan. 25, in Miami.
The board discussed and voted on several items of business that in various ways can help solve the workforce demand crisis facing the industry – from efficiency to pipeline.

Member grades

The board endorsed a path forward toward streamlining member categories to potentially make the profession more welcoming to the entire engineering team. Currently, individuals in the member, associate, and affiliate grades pay the same dues and have the same benefits and voting rights. Consolidating these three grades into a single grade would simplify the “join” process while also saving money.
The Society would retain distinguished member, fellow, and student member grades.

“Consolidating member grades is an important step for ASCE’s alignment with both our strategic plan and our code of ethics,” said ASCE President Marsia Geldert-Murphey.

“We state in our strategic plan: ‘Amplify our collective impact through a vibrant, engaged, and growing membership.’ In our code of ethics, we state, ‘Promote, and exhibit inclusive, equitable, and ethical behavior in all engagements with colleagues.’

“We know professional engineers as leaders of the civil engineering team are already distinguished by their P.E. Consolidating membership grades is about both inclusion and amplification. Over the last 50 years we have witnessed a remarkable acceleration in technological innovation with breakthroughs in various fields shaping the way we live, work, and interact and that will only accelerate in the next 50 years. Civil engineers are systems integrators, and we must strive to improve our pathways to attract new members from the broader infrastructure community.”

Because the change would require updates to the ASCE governing documents – along with separate criteria related to service on the board – the specific language of the new membership grades and criteria must be approved by the board later this year before going on the Society election ballot in 2025.

Government Engineers Council

So while the board took steps to further connect the engineering team, it also voted to establish the Government Engineers Council as a permanent standing board committee, extending the Society’s reach to professionals in the public sector.

The board authorized forming the Government Engineers Council in 2020, and the group began a three-year term in 2021 to be reevaluated at the end. The vote last week cements the GEC in the organization going forward while keeping the Public Agency Peer Review Committee as its constituent group.

“Having a diverse group of members in the GEC reporting to the board allows us to both continue to expand the presence of government engineers throughout the ASCE community and develop programs and benefits tailored to their unique demographic,” Geldert-Murphey said.

“During its brief tenure, the GEC has amplified the benefits of ASCE membership by listening to the experiences of our colleagues in the government sector and contributing to the professional development of all civil engineers in our industry.”

Cities of the Future

Finally, the board received an update on the forthcoming giant-screen film Cities of the Future, produced by ASCE and MacGillivray Freeman Films – the same creative team behind 2017’s resounding success Dream Big: Engineering Our World.

The film is slated to open in select museums and theaters around the world Feb. 16. John Krasinski, of The Office fame, among other Hollywood roles, was announced this week as the film’s narrator.

ASCE is offering grants of as much as $1,500 to Society groups who are putting on local outreach events and film screenings.
Dream Big has been a powerful outreach tool for a generation of students since its release. Cities of the Future is primed to do the same, especially as the current workforce shortfall demands jumpstarting the talent pipeline at the K-12 level.

“I am extremely excited about the upcoming release of Cities of the Future,” Geldert-Murphey said. “We talk about our workforce shrinking, and what is the solution? We need to attract more brilliant minds to our profession who want to make our world a better place.

“This movie is an important beacon to all the potential engineers out there who just need a small seed of knowledge planted so they can grow to reach their full potential in our industry.”