Orange County Branch Newsletter
Finding the Words
By Clint Isa, P.E. | 2020-2021 President
I presume that if you’re reading this article, you probably became an engineer because your affinity for the language arts was not as strong as for math and sciences (assuming you even liked language arts at all). While I personally enjoy writing and have been told that I am not terrible at it, I still find writing articles like the ones for this column to be challenging. Newsletter articles offer a blank canvas to express your thoughts on a variety of topics, which can be overwhelming. Writing a newsletter article for an engineering organization does, at least, help establish some boundary conditions. Policy and funding, technical development, and outreach to university and high school students are critical topics that deserve the focus they receive in our industry. For this article, though, I am going to focus on the importance of the newsletter articles themselves; while they carry a comparably lower profile, they are still a vital aspect of engineering organizations like ASCE.
As engineers, showing your work is a critical part of summarizing your reasoning and justifying your design. Doing so also affords you and others the ability to avoid duplication of effort, review and (hopefully) admire past accomplishments, and look for opportunities to build or improve on thought processes. The same need for documentation applies for engineering organizations. During the past few years, ASCE Los Angeles Section (which includes ASCE Orange County Branch) has been converting historical documents to electronic files to help minimize the need for physical storage. As someone who has been involved with the process, I have had the opportunity to peruse annual summaries, budgets, newsletter articles, and guidance documents that are more than 70 years old. It was an eye-opening experience to see that our past leaders were faced with some of the same challenges that we are still striving to improve today, such as equality, inclusion, and engaging students and young professionals in ASCE. It was also inspiring to see some of our organization’s past accomplishments and the impacts on our community, some of which are acknowledged in letters from local residents and agencies.
However, it is unlikely that many of us would be aware of our predecessors’ challenges and accomplishments if they had not taken the time to document them. Despite our success, the ASCE Orange County Branch occasionally struggles to generate the quantity of articles that is commensurate with our members’ accomplishments and activity. So, I invite you to help us document our legacy. If you have ideas for articles on events, projects, accomplishments, people (or something else), please reach out to me ([email protected]) or our Publications Committee ([email protected]). We would love to discuss your thoughts. For those who are interested, ASCE Orange County Branch also has opportunities for those looking to help prepare our newsletter and/or to assist with digitizing our historical documents (there is still much to be done).
When I started writing this article, I was unsure of what I wanted to say. It seemed seasonably appropriate to highlight the importance of gratitude, especially in the times of COVID. While gratitude is important, I realized that I find myself feeling most grateful during moments of reflection. Pictures, notes, and yes, even newsletter articles, serve as reminders and motivators that, in turn, can spark progress. So, I encourage you to engage in the process of writing because you never know when you will stumble onto a topic worth writing about until you start writing. I look forward to reading what you have to say, and so do our future engineers.
About the Author
Clint Isaac Isa, P.E., is a Principal Engineer at Diaz Yourman & Associates and the 2020-2021 President of ASCE Orange County Branch. Clint can be contacted at [email protected].