Orange County Branch Newsletter

March 2014

History and Heritage

The Orange County Branch History & Heritage Committee

By Bill Lawson, PE

Since ASCE established a History and Heritage Committee at the National level in 1964, and subsequently provided Guidelines for History and Heritage Committees to be formed at the State and Local levels (See Link), there has been a focus within the Society to "encourage recognition of historic engineering achievements around the world; enable engineers to interact and learn from each other; and demonstrate the interrelatedness of different segments of the profession." The Los Angeles Section established their History and Heritage Committee in the 1960's and began recognizing Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks (HCEL's) within the Section in 1969. The Orange County Branch followed in the late 1970's with the establishment of its own History and Heritage Committee and dedicated their first two HCEL plaques in 1982. Since the beginning of the HCEL dedication program in the LA Section, a total of 67 landmarks have been recognized, 13 of which were dedicated by the Orange County Branch.

The History and Heritage Committee, however, isn't just about dedicating plaques. Our goals also include conducting oral history interviews with Orange County Branch Past Presidents and other prominent members of the Branch and to add those oral histories to the History and Heritage page of the OC Branch website. We also plan to add more photos and other pertinent information about Orange County's current HCEL's to our web page, and link them to an interactive map showing the location of each landmark.  Click HERE to see our current web page.

Other activities of the History and Heritage Committee (HHC) include collecting and cataloging information, memorabilia, documents, artifacts and publications relating to local civil engineering projects and personalities of historical interest. The Committee also participates in a number of Orange County Branch activities each year, including the annual History & Heritage and Student Fellowship Dinner, and Branch and Committee field trips, and prepares articles about these activities and other topics of local, state and/or national historical interest.

Since the beginning of 2013, I have been the Chairman of both the Orange County Branch and Los Angeles Section History and Heritage Committees and I plan to continue that dual role through 2014. But it is time that both of these Committees begin to seek new members and leaders, younger members as well as more senior ones, to carry out the Committee's goals. In October of this year I plan to step down from the Chairmanship of the Orange County Branch HHC and focus on the activities and goals of the LA Section Committee. If you have any interest in the History and Heritage of Civil Engineering in Orange County, now would be an excellent time for you to join the Orange County Branch History and Heritage Committee and help it continue with its mission as you learn about what we have been doing and what we have planned for the future.

For additional information, please contact me (Bill Lawson) at: mailto:[email protected]


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