photo of Florida members at Fly-In Erik Alcantara
Members of the ASCE Florida Section contingent work their magic on the Hill, Thursday, during the ASCE Legislative Fly-In.

It’s all about consistency now.

ASCE members took to Capitol Hill this week for the annual legislative fly-in, three days of advocacy programs and congressional visits. More than 250 civil engineers from 47 states (and D.C. and Puerto Rico) attended. And while issues of resilience and workforce dominated their conversations with elected leaders on the capital, many of the potential solutions lie simply in consistent funding.

“Everybody who is in business relies on consistency,” said ASCE President Marsia Geldert-Murphey. “Consistency and reliability of funding, and consistency and reliability of revenue.”

The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act continues to flood the industry with project funding – certainly a good thing, though it also has contributed to a civil engineering workforce crisis. Geldert-Murphey’s point is that consistent funding, as opposed to a once-in-a-generation windfall, helps keep the student pipeline flowing.

“We’ve got to make sure we have a reliable profession for people who want to go into civil engineering,” Geldert-Murphey said. “We have to eliminate the peaks and valleys. This profession is critical to the quality of life in our communities. So, let’s invest consistently in that.”

Darren Olson and his contingent from Illinois made the case for continued consistent funding with the office of Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-05) by highlighting infrastructure projects in his district that have benefited from IIJA funding.

“That is something that we focused on at the start of the meeting,” Olson said. “I think that’s so critical when we talk to our elected officials. We’ve been asking for this funding for so long. And now they’ve put this kind of down payment, so we’ve got to tell them about these success stories.”

photo of Alyssa Sooklal at the Fly-In Alyssa Sooklal
Alyssa Sooklal and other members from Maryland visited with Rep. Sarbanes during the Fly-In.

Olson was participating in his 11th fly-in. As chair of ASCE’s Committee on America’s Infrastructure, he playing a big role at this year’s event and will have an even bigger role next year with the ASCE 2025 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure scheduled for release.

“I think we’re doing great,” Olson said. “We’re in the process of collecting data right now. We’re not guessing what the grades might be. This is a very data-driven project. 

“Infrastructure is just something I’m very passionate about. So, being able to talk to the people who can help improve it – the elected officials – that to me is a tremendously rewarding experience.”

As always at the annual fly-in, there is the other end of the experience spectrum too. David Klawitter, a sustainability manager from Orlando, Florida, was among this year’s first-timers.

“I’ve worked in civil engineering for about nine years now, and there’s never been the focus there needs to be on infrastructure,” Klawitter said. “I’ve seen it affect my community, and I wanted to have an outlet for letting my elected officials know what needs to be done. I’m excited for the chance to advocate to our nation’s leaders.”

Deniz Uludag, recently honored as a 2024 New Face of Civil Engineering, also was on-hand for the first time. He and his fellow civil engineering from Colorado had three congressional meetings Thursday. Uludag focused on discussing the importance of supporting resilient infrastructure, highlighting his reconnaissance work last year following the earthquake in his home country of Turkiye as a real-life warning.

“We tried to give them the message of what we’re trying to achieve,” Uludag said. “Last year the United States had 28 climate-related disasters. Climate change is here. So we explained these things.

“It was a good experience. The thing that made me happiest is my voice – and the organizations I represent, their voices too – was heard by someone who might support these ideas and make change for us.

“So this is a great feeling.”

photo of Colorado visit Deniz Udulag
The ASCE Colorado Section was well-represented this week in D.C.

photo of Texas visit Tiffany Reed-Villarreal
ASCE members Tiffany Reed-Villarreal and Roberto Hernarndez visit with Congresswoman Kay Granger.

photo of Iowa visit Iowa Section
Members of the ASCE Iowa Section meet with Senator Chuck Grassley.