Orange County Branch Newsletter

July 2020

President's Message

Practicing Empathy and Standing up for Injustice

By Ravi Shah, P.E., QSD/P | 2019-2020 President




“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.


These last several months have proven to be difficult for many reasons. Along the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, staggering unemployment numbers, an economic impact that even our brightest economists don’t fully have a grasp of yet and the continued systemic racism throughout our Country have been incredibly difficult for everyone and most importantly those within the underserved and underrepresented communities.

The only thing which is certain in these difficult times is that we are all unique and we each have a different way of dealing with tough situations, grief, uncertainty for ourselves and for loved ones.

Growing up, I don’t recall the first time I heard the famous idiom, “Before you judge a person, try walking a mile in their shoes”, but it’s something I’ve never forgotten and it rings true today more than ever. If there is one thing I am certain of in these uncertain times – it is that we are all human and it doesn’t cost a thing to treat others with humanity and to practice empathy.

As engineers, our responsibility as stewards of our environment and infrastructure are critical, but it is our ability to empathize and to listen to the communities, stakeholders and clients we serve while balancing social, economic and environmental concerns that give engineers the credibility and trust as experts. It is with that same mindset we must remain diligent and practice these positive qualities today more than ever - and beyond just engineering. We must remain vocal, we must stand up for social injustice and we must help fight for those who may not have the voice to fight for themselves.

These last few weeks following the death of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, and so many more like them, for which their deaths were senseless and avoidable, have brought once again to the forefront our failure as a nation to collectively put an end to the racism that is still all too alive more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Instead, it has become clear that we all must work together towards a more just society and stand with those in the black community who need our support and our voices the most right now. 

As a proud ASCE member, our Code of Ethics helps define the model for professional conduct. Among these eight cannons, Cannon 8. Treat All Persons Fairly, states:

While the cannon specifically states, “in all matters related to their profession”, we live in a world where all of our professions bleed into our daily lives, so we must hold ourselves to the highest standard of Cannon 8 within not only our profession, but our daily lives. Please join me and the Branch in this pledge to hold this standard as paramount for not only ourselves, but those in our lives. It is not the time to remain silent. If you’d like to support or donate to this cause there are numerous non-profit organizations which can use your support. 

Finally, as part of the Orange County Branch, I am proud that we have leaders amongst our ranks who are voices of positivity and change during challenging times and controversy. Our Branch remains diverse in its leaders and one that continues to set an example. Our Younger Members and Student Chapters – the future of our profession, are outspoken leaders and have taken a strong stance against systemic racism. For example, the UCI student chapter has launched an Ethical Engineering Series called, Engineering a More Equitable Society: Healing Injustice within the Civil Engineering World (https://asceuci.weebly.com/ethical-engineering-series.html). The Society has done the same https://info.asce.org/unity. Our Branch is committed to standing in solidarity with those who need it most. We know that together we can all make a difference. If you have any questions or would like to discuss with us, please feel free to reach out.

Orange County Branch Updates

In a hundred years, I would not have expected my year as President of the Orange County Branch to have been uprooted and turned on its head nearly halfway through it. Though as no surprise, it’s evident how resilient and adaptable our members, volunteers and in-general our profession remains. Most have adapted to working from home by now and whether it’s with your furry friend or a full house, working from home and virtual meetings where you can hear children, dogs, cats, birds and lawnmowers, will never remain the same. We’ve embraced this new normal as we’ve moved our events virtual. We’ve had some great events recently including a Virtual Graduation for graduating seniors from UCI, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach who were given a small opportunity to celebrate the completion of years of hard work by obtaining their degrees; our annual Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition for high school students and we held our first virtual Branch luncheon on the construction of the SOFI stadium. I hope you were able to enjoy these events if you participated, there are many more to come. As of now, our Branch will continue to limit large in-person group events and while we look forward to the opportunity to seeing you all in-person as we return to a new normal over the coming months, we will be diligent in ensuring the safety of our communities and our members. Our Branch and YMF will continue to remain active during these times. If you have a chance, please join us for one of our upcoming events - we look forward to seeing you (virtually, of course!) at our next event.

We hope you all continue to remain positive, healthy and safe.

Take Care,
Ravi Shah, PE
President ASCE OC Branch


About the Author

Ravi Shah is a Transportation Project Manager in Orange County, CA with Mark Thomas. He is the current President of ASCE Orange County Branch and a Past President (2012-2013) of the ASCE Orange County Younger Member Forum. He has been actively involved with ASCE as a professional since 2010 and enjoys giving back to the community. In his free time, he enjoys traveling with his wife and enjoying good food and wine. Ravi can be contacted at [email protected] or on LinkedIn.


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