Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2011

President's Message

The Year in Review

By Ziad Mazboudi, PE
ASCE OC President

Wow, a year has already gone by, since I took over the Presidency of one of the best ASCE branches in the nation.  As a Branch, we have had some great achievements as one of the largest branches in the country; best website, best newsletter, best and first Branch report card, active legislative group, great YMF, and so much more.  We can’t and could not have done all of this without our great members.  Our members are who we are; they define us and our success. 

Over the past year, we were able to accomplish so much.  I will go over some of these accomplishments, changes and improvements and look forward to continuing progress in the future.  We started the year with a commitment to our members to help deal with the bad economic times.  After many years of having our luncheons at the Costa Mesa Hilton, we decided to move to the UCI University Club, where we were able to reduce the cost of the luncheons for our members while maintaining a professional atmosphere.  In addition, we made a decision to switch to a fully digital newsletter, which was a move that allowed us to be more sustainable and reduce paper use and be more fiscally responsible.  We held a job search symposium that assisted our members in understanding the world of job hunting and learning the tricks of an eye-catching resume and how to ace an interview.  The national ASCE President-Elect Andrew Hermann was a speaker at our Board Installation Night and he visited all of the local universities in our Branch and encouraged the students to be among the best in the nation. 

As always, our Programs Committee was busy bringing great speakers to our membership.  In order to increase the partnership with our technical committees, the committee decided to hold an annual joint meeting with Hydrology and Hydraulics Technical Group and one with the Transportation Technical Group.  The Branch also holds annually, a joint luncheon with APWA Southern California Chapter.  All luncheons were enjoyed and the presentations from the luncheons are posted on our website for any of our members who would like to refer to them. 

Our dinners are always a success story, and this year was no exception.  The Board Installation/Student Night Dinner was a wonderful evening for our members to network, listen to the President-Elect Andrew Hermann share his views on Infrastructure, and see the presentations prepared by our local university students on their activities.  The Awards Night was equally successful as we celebrate exceptional civil engineers and projects that received recognition.  Lori Wolfe was the chair of the programs committee with the support of the Board. 

As new chair of the Continuing Education Committee, Muhammad Ataya supported by a great committee that held two seminars that were amazingly successful.  One was a half-day on drainage design and the other was a full day seminar on water and wastewater.  In order to attract and provide benefit to our members, we lowered the cost of our continuing education seminars and provided additional discounts to students.  The seminars received great reviews and the committee will continue to provide first class seminars to our members in the coming years.

The History and Heritage Committee was very active this year with Bill Lawson as the chair.  Two historic landmarks were dedicated this year including John Wayne Airport and the Irvine Ranch Irrigation System planned for September 15th.  Bill has been very active and working closely with the LA Section committee on maintaining the on-line maps showing all of our local civil engineering landmarks.  After many years of serving the Orange County Branch and being the Chair of the History and Heritage Committee, we lost Mr. Fred Meier this past year.  Fred was a great civil engineer who was very committed to the profession and to the Branch.

The Younger Member Forum was very active and had a very busy year with Andrew Pham as their president.  Their biggest event and accomplishment was hosting the 2011 WRYMC in Costa Mesa in February.  This is a yearly conference for the YMF groups for Regions 8 and 9.  Hosting a large event such as WRYMC took a lot of effort and coordination by dedicated chairs, Scarlet Ng and Jessica Ward who planned this event out to the very last detail.  They also had YMF volunteers to help with the planning of this event.  

Outside from WRYMC, YMF had numerous speaker series events, outreach events, community service events, fundraising events, and social activities throughout the year.  Their biggest outreach event this past year was the Annual Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition held on the campus of USC where over sixty high schools participated.  It was a very successful event with a lot of praise from the students and teachers.  This year, the winning bridge held over 800 pounds! 

The Government Affairs Committee was also very active, chaired by Jeannette Lindemann.  The committee grew to about eighteen members where meetings were held face to face or through conference calls to accommodate some of our busy members.  The members visited Representatives during their open houses throughout the year.  Four of our members attended the Legislative Day in Sacramento.  Jeannette was active in Region 9 Government Relations Committee meetings and conference calls. 

As we launched our Infrastructure Report Card, the Infrastructure Committee was busy promoting it, and Blake Anderson did a fabulous job.  He participated in the City Infrastructure Summit representing the Branch.  He also made a presentation to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and prepared a presentation to share with all of the cities to present to their councils during Engineer’s Week.

As far as technology goes, we launched a new website, to improve upon our older one that would provide more features for us to be able to easily update its content.  Josh Nelson and Mike Hoolihan did a fabulous job.  In addition, they were the brains behind the launch of our digital newsletter.  Finally, Josh worked with Eventbrite to coordinate all of our activities in a calendar that accommodates all of our event needs.

Our Public Relations committee co-chairs, Lisa Clark andBobby Fouladi brought us into the social media world, by setting up a Facebook page and a Twitter page.  This helps us outreach to our members and share issues and events on a regular basis.  Bobby is also our Engineers Without Borders liaison, and together with Garry Gilbert, went to the Honduras this year on a water well project.

We enlisted a new marketing chair this year, Cindy Miller who has been working hard putting together a Marketing plan for our Branch.  The Branch is in need of promoting our luncheons, dinners, website and other events.  We are always looking for sponsors for our activities.  If you are interested, please contact Cindy, or any of the Board members.

Giancarlo Ganddini was the Student Groups Chair, and he works closely with the universities in preparation for the November Student Night for their schools’ presentations.  He also sets up and coordinates the Order of the Ring Ceremony, which was held during the Board Installation Night, and this year was overseen by President-Elect Hermann.

Sam Ali was the Chair of the Sustainability Committee, and along with his committee members added a lot of resources on their webpage, wrote several articles for the newsletter, and put together a presentation on the new Sustainability Infrastructure Rating System, Envision.  The committee is working closely with the LA Section Sustainability Committee and is always looking for more members.

There is a lot more that we did this year, but I wanted to touch on some of our achievements and hopefully you have been following up on all of what we did during the year by reading our newsletter.

Finally, I want to thank my Board for their continuous support and great effort and dedication to keep our Branch among the best in the nationJosh Nelson was an amazing Vice President, full of energy, commitment and professionalism.  He will be a great President, and I hope that you all will support him in his journey over the next year.  Tapas Dutta was a great treasurer, kept our financial matters in order and is eager to pass them to Penny for next year.  We wish to congratulate Tapas on his recent marriage vows, and we wish Mr. and Mrs. Dutta a happy long life together.  Now, Penny Lew deserves a round of applause.  The secretary’s job is the hardest on the Board but it gets easier afterwards.  The secretary has to put the newsletter together, prepare minutes and coordinates the Board meetings with the President.  I think Penny did great especially as we transitioned from the hard copy newsletter to the digital newsletter.  And, I’d like to welcome Gary Gilbert as our new secretary.  Gary is not new to ASCE, as he is a veteran and comes to us after serving as the LA Section Treasurer.  We wish him the best and look forward to his ideas.

Before I finish this message, I’d like to thank you all again for your support, and hope that you approach us with your ideas, suggestions and support for articles and programs, as well as changes and improvements.  I wish to thank my wife Mary for her continuous support and look forward to seeing you at our next event.