Having served ASCE for over five decades - first as a student chapter officer, then as a chapter faculty advisor, and ultimately throughout many committee and leadership roles at the section, region, and national level - I am now seeking the opportunity to take on the ultimate service opportunity for our profession and our Society -- Presidential leadership of ASCE.
I wish to do this for two reasons: I am passionate about civil engineering and I see ASCE as an integral part of the future of this profession. We are on the horizon of a very exciting time - increasing awareness of the importance of a robust, resilient infrastructure system suitable for the 21st century; new methodologies and processes and materials for planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining our civil works projects; an opportunity for creativity and innovation in the workplace and in the projects for which we are responsible. Who wouldn't want to be engaged in leading the Society that will help create all of this?
So, there is a lot to be done. If you will help elect me to this position, here are just a few of the initiatives I wish to undertake through my service leadership at ASCE:
- Workplace Environment - Our new generation of engineers are entering a workplace based on a 100-year old model focused on product and profit. This environment is often found personally less rewarding to many in our profession, young and old, who place greater value on a work-life balance, who hold service as a core value, who have a passion to create and innovate, and who hunger to have an impact - to leave THEIR mark. They understand that they are playing "an infinite game" called life and if opportunities to succeed are not part of the modern workplace, the outcome is that many creative individuals will leave this profession at a time when we need them most.
ASCE has a role to play with all employers in all markets. We can help create a new workplace environment that fosters innovation to meet the planning, design, construction, and maintenance challenges facing us in the century ahead by embracing a new model of productivity. We do this through partnerships with agencies, firms, and companies to help design a sustainable workplace environment that enriches engineers.
- Membership and Professional Development - Our membership has remained flat over four decades with growth coming by increasing the territory (e.g., student chapters, international sections) rather than holding onto the 15,000 ASCE student members or 21,000 BSCE graduates per year. Our colleges have seen enrollments in civil engineering undergraduate programs lagging behind other fields. We continue to struggle to attract a representative level of diversity in the student population. Even today, the career stability that the civil engineering profession can provide is overlooked. Our profession's role in advancing society and the multiplicity of career opportunities appears lost on many prospective students. It is time for ASCE to crack the nut on membership growth. To do this, opportunities include:
- Developing a student chapter model which makes students full members of our Society.
- Working with younger members to connect with student members to support the transition from school to work.
- Ensuring that more faculty are members of our Society and the profession.
- Promoting employer support of ASCE membership of employees by marketing the value proposition of continued professional development and networking through membership in ASCE is integral to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
- Finances - We also need to rethink our financial model. Membership, publications, conferences, and other revenue streams need to be more robust. Here are a few of the issues to tackle:
- A new funding model for geographic units and institutes is needed. The financial relationship of both member groups, and the importance of each in the life of members and the life of our Society needs strengthening. We can all succeed together, but not apart.
- Opportunities for new revenue streams need to be examined. At a time when publications, conferences, and webinars are finding stiffer competition from low or no cost options, ways of increasing market penetration, defining new markets, and rethinking technology and professional development options will be part of the solution approach.
- The strengthening of the bridge between Institutes and the Society needs to be a focus of activities with the goal of strengthening both.
- The role of the ASCE Foundation in developing endowments, special project revenues, and more should be evaluated, as should the role of the Foundation in branding and promoting our mission.
These and other initiatives will require the collaborative engagement of Regions, Sections, Branches, and Institutes. ASCE's programs need to be formative to meet member needs; maintain professional integrity; and facilitate workplace transparency, equality, diversity, and inclusiveness. In short, we need to define a value proposition suited for all civil engineers and their employers, clients, and society.
Our work is cut out for us, and I need your help to be part of the solution.