News from the ASCE National Convention

24 Nov 2015 9:00 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

Article by Patrick Sullivan, Vice President, ASCE Pittsburgh Section

From October 11 to October 14, 2015, I was honored to attend the ASCE National Convention in New York City on behalf of the ASCE Pittsburgh Section.  The conference began with an opening plenary session, closed with a general luncheon, and sandwiched in between were nine concurrent technical sessions, each consisting of five sub-sessions of consistent themes.  The themes were selected by ASCE and based on feedback from attendees at previous conferences.  The feedback suggested a consistency in content and identified seven areas of study:

1)    Natural or man-made catastrophes

2)    The state of the civil engineering industry and profession

3)    Professional leadership and technical training

4)    Cross-discipline technical products

5)    Significant projects

6)    History and heritage

7)    Strategic issues and public policies

ASCE has determined that, until further notice, these seven topics will be the basis of the concurrent sessions every year.  ASCE is also supporting two initiatives in 2015-2016.  The first is the “Raise the Bar” initiative, which supports the national movements to raise education requirements for licensure of future professional engineers.

The second initiative is that of “Above and Beyond.”  This initiative uses the ASCE Foundation and asks members of ASCE to provide financial support for programs that promote lifelong leadership and learning, infrastructure investment advocacy, and sustainability. 

The Keynote Speaker for the event was Luke Williams, international best-selling author of the book “Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business.”  Mr. Williams spent 90 minutes discussing innovative leadership, entrepreneurship, and cultural change.  Look for an article on Mr. Williams’ presentation in a future blog.

The opening reception Sunday evening featured one of New York’s most favorite districts, Chinatown.  Finger foods from some of Chinatown’s famous restaurants were on display during an evening of networking and socializing, which included music and a presentation featuring the Azure Dragon, one of the four symbols of the Chinese Constellations, or the Chinese dragon, a legendary creature in Chinese mythology and Chinese folklore.

Informational and project-related sessions during the three-day event explored such topics as “Diversity and Inclusion in the Civil Engineering Workplace,” “So You Have Been Sued: How to Document Project Files,” “Innovations in Engineering,” “The History of Niagara Falls,” and “The Evolution of Engineering Licensure.”

The convention closed on a funny note with speaker Don McMillan, a Stanford-educated electrical engineer turned comedian.  Don McMillan combined his high-tech roots with humor, referencing Avogadro’s number and XML in stand-up routines that have landed him spots on the Tonight Show and comedy clubs around the country.

Click here to learn more about the 2015 ASCE National Convention.

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