The 2016 ASCE National Convention - Inspire, Embrace, Innovate

15 Dec 2016 10:30 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

By Patt Sullivan, P.E., ASCE-Pittsburgh President

This past October, I represented the ASCE-Pittsburgh Section at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) National Convention in Portland, OR. 

The Keynote Speaker for the event was Frans Johansson, international best-selling author of the book “The Medici Effect” and “Click Moment”.  Mr. Johansson spent an hour discussing the importance of diversity as a key driver in domestic and global innovative success.  Look for an article on Mr. Johanssons’ presentation in a future blog.

The conference began with an opening plenary session and concluded with a general closing session and luncheon; sandwiched in between were nine concurrent technical sessions, each consisting of four to six sub-sessions of consistent themes.  The themes, similar to last year’s conference consisted of the following ways civil engineers can take steps to maximize taxpayer value while simultaneously elevating industry outcomes and the professional as a whole:

  • Assessing the state of the civil engineering industry and profession
  • Developing professional leadership and technical training
  • Learning about cross-discipline technical products
  • Solving and responding to natural and man-made catastrophes
  • Communicating and understanding strategic issues and public policies
  • Learning to use lessons of significant projects
  • Learning from History and Heritage

ASCE is also supporting two initiatives in 2016-2017. The first is the “Raise the Bar” initiative, which seeks to advance the profession and the public welfare by actively supporting the national movement to raise educational requirements for licensure of future professional engineers. More information about it can be reviewed at the following website:

The second initiative, the “Grand Challenge,” calls upon all civil engineers to solve this problem: “Investments needed to improve our infrastructure continue to increase well beyond available funding.  Find methods to 1) Significantly enhance the performance and value of infrastructure projects over their life cycles by 2025 and 2) Foster the optimization of infrastructure investments for society”.

To address this, ASCE is asking civil engineers to do the following:

  • Focus on innovation
  • Rethink life cycle costs
  • Drive transformational change - from planning to design to delivery
  • Influence major policy changes and infrastructure funding levels.  

You can learn more at the following website:

Welcome ReceptionThe opening reception Wednesday evening featured the foods of Portland, an evening of networking and socializing, and a welcome from ASCE President Mark Woodson.  The highlight of the evening was the premiere of the unedited version of the 45 minute movie produced by ASCE entitled “Dream Big.”  The premiere of this movie is scheduled for February 17, 2017 in the Imax theatre at the Carnegie Science Center.  To get excited about the future that our youth can bring to civil engineering and some of the spectacular projects we have constructed across the world, watch this two minute trailer:

Informational and project-related sessions attended during the three-day event explored topics such as

  • “Calculating Your Professional Risks”,
  • “Green Infrastructure in Resilient Cities”,
  • “A Business Perspective-The Only Constant is Change” and
  • “How Clear Communication leads to Engineering Success.”

The Columbia River in Portland, ORThe ASCE Convention is the Society flagship membership event. It is the single annual opportunity for which the entire Society is represented together, and it reflects the diversity that ASCE encompasses.  I was honored to represent our Section this year, and encourage you all to consider being a part of next year’s annual event in New Orleans on October 8th -  11th, 2017. 

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