After being inspired by some many stories on ASCE Day this past November and earlier this week as part of ASCE’s Younger Member Week, I wanted to go into more detail on how ASCE has personally helped me on my civil engineering journey. Founded in 1852, ASCE or the American Society of Civil Engineers is the nation’s oldest engineering society!
I have been involved with ASCE since my first year of college at Drexel in 2012 and never looked back. When I first started as a student member of ASCE, I will admit that I originally saw it as more like another high school club. I eventually learned that ASCE is so much more than that and is a global organization with more than 150,000 members in 177 countries!
Here are 4 ways that my involvement with ASCE has elevated my civil engineering education and now my career as a younger professional.
Quick note, although this is about ASCE, most of these ways can be applied to most professional societies, especially when it is related to your major / intended industry (i.e. Mechanical Engineering –> ASME )!
1. Leadership Skill Development
Even in college, ASCE has been the prime way that I have worked on developing my leadership skills and was actually the first student organization where I was appointed to a leadership position. My first role at Drexel ASCE was Webmaster, and while it may seem like a insignificant role, it was an awesome way to get to know the network and fellow team members as I was helping to build content. (I would go as far as saying that Social Media/Website roles are one of the best roles to start in to learn about an organization and I would be happy to write another blog post about it if anyone is curious why).
One of the greatest leadership opportunities I had through ASCE while in college was attending the CI Student Days in 2016. Recalling my time, it’s hard to imagine how it all occurred only in the span of four short days. I led a team of six in a three-day competition to create a complete bid package consisting of a cost estimate, schedule, and proposal. The bid package was based on a portion of a real project – a pedestrian bridge that was currently being built at the time. The full project was a $250 million bridge rehabilitation project of the Longfellow Bridge which connects Boston to Cambridge across the Charles River. After submitting our teams bid, we then had to present why our bid should be awarded the job to a panel of judges who work for internationally known companies in the construction field. Throughout this competition, I was reminded that the real-world is not as clean cut as a textbook homework problem or a laboratory experiment would be. Overall, our team took their hurdles in stride and submitted something we were proud of. It was also a great preparation for Senior Design which I started the term after. For information on CI Student Days and how to apply for the 2021 program can be found here: https://www.ascestudentdays.org/.
For Younger Members (which is what I am now), ASCE has an entire multi-day conference called YMLS or the Younger Member Leadership Symposium at ASCE headquarters. You can read more about my experience attending in 2019 here: https://danitheengineer.home.blog/2019/09/22/attending-asce-younger-member-leadership/ Through attending ASCE events, I now have civil engineering connections across the country and am starting to gain global connections as well.
More recently, I have joined several Society ASCE committees where I continue to grow my leadership skills as well as work to improve the society overall in which I will discuss more later in this article.
2. Grow my Civil Engineering Network
ASCE has been integral in my civil engineering education, especially when choosing the subdiscipline that I wanted to concentrate in. During college, I completed 3 six-month internships in various civil engineering fields and through networking with my local ASCE Philly YMF, I was able to secure multiple interviews for each co-op cycle. As a student, I highly recommend that you connect with your local professional section/branch or YMG as soon as possible, as just by attending local ASCE events and talking to professionals, I learned so much about how the classroom relates to the boardroom.
Beyond networking, I consider ASCE my second family, as I have made so many amazing friends and have learned so much from my fellow civil engineering colleagues through this organization!
3. Public Speaking Opportunities
As I have talked about in a previous blog post, I still get really nervous when it comes to public speaking. ASCE has given me so many times throughout the 8 years to practice and build confidence in my public speaking skills as the only way that you get better at something is through practice!
Most recently, in very early March 2020, I went back to Drexel to present about the FE Exam and since then ASCE has provided me additional opportunities for public speaking in a virtual setting. In July, 2020 I was a panelist for ASCE’s roundtable on promoting diversity and fostering inclusion in times of crisis through their Thursdays at 3 program.
4. Impact the Future of the Profession
STEM Outreach is one of my passions and ASCE has given me several amazing opportunities to impact the future of the profession through STEM outreach. I am involved in STEM outreach in many capacities locally and can say that I have reached thousands of students through my outreach efforts so far to show them how fun engineering is, share my excitement about what I do as a civil engineer, all while breaking stereotypes of what an engineer looks like. I am excited to continue teaching kids the important role that civil engineers have in our world and inspiring the future generation of engineers!
On the society side, my volunteer experiences focus on bridging the gap between theory and practice, or as I like to call it “the transition from the classroom to the boardroom”. Particularly, I have been involved with the SEI Student Initiatives Committee since 2019 where I help students transition to professional members.
Note: There are MANY ASCE Society committees which are now accepting applications for new members until March 15th. More information at https://www.asce.org/asce_committees/.
Through these opportunities and so many more, ASCE has helped me to grow as a leader and has been vital to my success as a civil engineer!