Orange County Branch Newsletter

July 2015

President's Message

Applying Lessons Learned From OC YMF

By Gary Gilbert, PE, GE



Before I start my article for this month, I would like to inform our members that on June 13th, we lost Return "Ret" Moore who was president of the ASCE Orange County (OC) Branch from October 1958 to September 1959.  The Orange County Register has a brief life story that includes his achievements including his participation in the 17th Naval Construction Battalion during and after World War II (Read Article). The article is limited on Mr. Moore’s achievements as a civil engineer and has no discussion on his involvement with ASCE.  I didn’t know till last week that Ret was one of the founding members of Moore and Taber Engineering Consultants, a geotechnical firm that had a substantial contribution to the geotechnical profession.  I am working with other members to prepare a summary of Ret Moore’s contributions to the Civil Engineering profession and would appreciate information from members who knew him that can be incorporated in the article.  Please send information to [email protected].

The ASCE OC Younger Member Forum (YMF) has been very successful in building a group that has amazing accomplishments and their members have fun being active.  The OC Branch board would like to build upon that successful approach with all of our members. Over the last four years, the OC Branch has been working  with the OC YMF to combine some key committees so that younger and experienced members can work together to grow existing successful programs.  The committees that are shared by OC Branch and OC YMF are the K-12 Outreach, Community Service, and University Outreach committee.

The K-12 Outreach Committee under the leadership of OC YMF has successful in getting students excited about the civil engineering profession.  OC YMF has built upon their successes of the past by increasing visitations to schools, partnering with WTS OC on Girls Engineering Day at Dale Junior High School in Anaheim, and working with the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair to recognize students with the best Civil Engineering related project.  Next year OC YMF will be bringing the Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition back to Orange County.  This year several of our experienced members have increased the OC Branch’s participation with the following programs.

  • Sam Ali from the Sustainability Committee has modified the OC YMF’s outreach presentation to include sustainable elements.  Sam and other Sustainability Committee members are approaching schools with sustainable features and giving presentations that incorporate  facilities, the students use every day, into the K-12 outreach program.  We are working with our institutes to prepare focused presentations  about each of their specialties in order to raise awareness about what civil engineers contribute to infrastructure and society.  Connecting students with something they see and use on a daily basis should help in getting them interested in our field.
  • We partnered with Anaheim Union High School District on a teacher mentoring program. We worked with several teachers on how civil engineering concepts could be included in existing class activities. After one year we realized that there is more that we can accomplish by approaching the other teachers in the school district.  One of the lessons learned is that it would be good for engineers to invite teachers to some ASCE events and introduce them to other ASCE members in attendance.  This way the teachers would be able to learn how to reach out to our members and potentially work with multiple ASCE members to develop programs that could be incorporated into their curriculum.
  • We have approached members who have children in school and worked with members to develop a presentation and activities that can tie into what the teachers are teaching.  Also members of the K-12 Outreach committee have gone with the members to the schools to assist with the presentation.

OC YMF since its founding has been active in community service partnering with organizations like Rebuilding Together, Paint Your Heart Out, Habitat for Humanity, and Corazon.  The community service events typically consist of a ½ day trip to either repair or build a home for disadvantaged communities.  The community service activities have a positive impact on their recipients, but typically do not include civil engineering design.  The ASCE OC Branch is working to build upon the successful OC YMF program by partnering with organizations and public agencies to provide civil engineering services as part of the ASCE OC Community Service Committee.  Some of the programs already underway are as follows:

  • Designing and constructing upgrades for existing bridges at the San Diego Safari Park to allow for disabled visitors to gain easier access to texisting and new exhibits
  • Assisting the US Forest Service with upgrades to existing facilities to provide more places for people to enjoy the San Gabriel Mountains.  We are also looking at opportunities to work with disadvantaged communities to perform maintenance or build new trails and other facilities.
  • Provide engineering services to HomeAid to improve existing buildings for homeless shelters.

OC YMF has increased engagement with the UC Irvine, CSU Fullerton, and CSU Long Beach student chapters.  All three student chapters are more healthy and engaged with the ASCE OC Branch than I recall since I was a student more than 15 years ago.  Each student chapter has a representative at the OC YMF board meetings and we have seen increased student participation at the ASCE OC Branch events too.  The OC YMF has created a resume and interview workshop, plan reading workshop, and helped the students raise funds in the second annual jog-a-thon.  The ASCE OC Branch board has been more active in participating in events with the student chapter members and been able to have some enlightening discussions on how we can assist the students better.

CSU Long Beach has started an alumni group and we hope to assist the other two schools with creating a similar program.  Our intent is get alumni to have fun catching up with former classmates and provide opportunities to meet with the current students.  For those that are interested in becoming more involved with our three schools, the OC Branch now has representative advisory councils to provide input into the curriculum, understand what the faculty are teaching, and seeing if there are opportunities for us to add continuing education programs were the students could earn credits and potentially continuing education units for licensure.

These programs don’t just help us feel better about contributing to help others, they also raise awareness to the public about what Civil Engineers do as a profession.  I plan to transform ASCE OC Branch into a place where members can do the things they enjoy most and share them with others in the civil engineering community.  If you would like to be a part of any of these programs or feel that you would like to participate in ASCE OC Branch in a different way, please contact me at [email protected].

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