Orange County Branch Newsletter

January 2014

President's Message

President's Message - It’s a New Year, so Join Us! OC Branch ASCE Committees-Part II

By Penny Lew, P.E.

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays!  As we get back into the swing of things and start off the New Year, I hope you will consider making ASCE one of your new commitments for 2014.

ASCE Committees provide an arena for a variety of ideas to be shared and implemented.  The committees work to find ways to bring the most value to your membership by coming up with activities that interest our members.

For anyone who takes the opportunity and volunteers his/her time, this could be quite a rewarding experience. You’re probably wondering –what’s in it for me? Your participation can provide you benefits and help you to grow technically, socially, and professionally.  After all, many of you have said that you want to give back to the profession-so here is your opportunity.

The committees also contribute newsletter articles about their activities and make updates to the Branch website for their respective committee pages.

Join us and share your ideas.   We are looking for members who can make the time and have the energy to keep our organization active and relevant to its members.  See where you might fit in to help one of the Branch committees in accomplishing their short and long term goals:

Continuing Education

This is one of the committees whose work could potentially reach many of our members as it collaborates to come up with educational programs throughout the year to plan seminars that provide practical knowledge to young as well as seasoned practitioners in a variety of civil engineering disciplines. Committee members confer to come up with the best ideas for programs, seek volunteer teachers, and coordinate for sites and accommodations for classes. They will also develop topics in coordination with the Branch’s technical groups and institutes as well as with experts in various civil engineering disciplines.  The committee’s goal is to put together a minimum of four seminars per year and up to six events that provide practical discussions about current issues the profession is struggling with.

History and Heritage

The History and Heritage Committee seeks and identifies civil engineering projects in Orange County that have historical significance.  Some projects are identified for special recognition as a Historical Civil Engineering Landmark, and the committee researches and writes up the significance of the site/structure/project.  The preparation of a site for Historical Civil Engineering Landmark often includes coordination with municipalities and public or private organizations. After a project is approved to become a Historical Civil Engineering Landmark, the committee arranges details for a dedication ceremony. 

Another important responsibility of the Committee is that its members prepare interviews with Civil Engineers who have contributed to the improvement of the profession to record the oral history of their careers. They also prepare exhibits to be shown at the annual November Dinner Meeting celebrating the History and Heritage of Civil Engineering in Orange County and coordinate the attendance of past Branch Presidents to this event.

Public Infrastructure Coalition of Orange County (Infrastructure Report Card)

This committee maintains the Orange County Infrastructure Report Cards and updates the Report Card every three years or so as determined by the Los Angeles Section, Region 9, or the Society. It also coordinates with other entities for the unveiling event. The report was last updated in 2009 and the next update is expected to be completed in 2015. Having presented at the Association of California Cities Annual City Infrastructure Conference, the committee participated in discussions regarding topics such as investment strategies, policies and financial issues. It also makes presentations at other events on the status of public infrastructure.  The committee assists with California Report Card.

Government Affairs (Legislative)

This committee identifies legislative issues for the branch to support and coordinates with the Region 9 Government Affairs Committee. Based on the committee’s research and findings, it coordinates a message and prepares a group to attend the Legislative Day in Sacramento, which occurs every other year.  In addition, the committee reviews federal legislation; participates in Society’s Washington D.C. Fly-In; and assists Society with their government affairs program.  On the local level, the committee plans for meetings with County Supervisors at least once a year. 

Visitations to local offices of State elected officials are arranged by the committee.  The group has members who participate in ASCE Region 9’s policy committees, which includes identifying bills ASCE Region 9 has taken a position on that could affect Orange County.  These bills are then discussed with Orange County representatives.  Ideally, some of the committee members should include personnel from Orange County agencies.


Our membership chair coordinates with national, who receives our membership dues, keeping track of who has joined the branch and makes sure all members are on the email distribution list. The committee helps to identify new members and welcomes them by giving them by including them in the monthly Branch newsletter. The amount of funding the Branch receives from national is directly related to the number of members we have.

We hope to see this committee meet with non-members to see what their interests are and try to recruit new members who have goals that are in line with the Orange County Branch’s strategic plan.

Younger Member Forum

YMF provides a forum for younger Civil Engineers (35 years old or younger) to network with other younger engineers and people in the community to share ideas with other engineers. This group organizes and holds a wide range of events including social events, tours, and professional development type events.
The goals of the Younger Member Forum are to increase the membership in ASCE and YMF, encourage college student involvement in ASCE, and have new graduates join us as YMF members, as YMF is the stepping stone between the student chapters and the Branch.

The K-12 Student Outreach is part of YMF that plans visits to schools to promote civil engineering and encourage students to enroll in Civil Engineering programs when they reach college.
YMF has many activities that are fun and beneficial for both the YMF members and the Branch members that include community service such as homebuilding or social activities such as skiing, wine tasting, and sporting events.

Sustainability Committee

The goals of the committee are to educate our members and the community at large about the importance of sustainability, create student outreach programs at local universities and conduct lectures and training programs, organize field trips to LEED Certified projects within Orange County, and partner  with Sustainable organizations such as USGB OC Chapter, Audubon Society, etc.

The committee keeps current with the sustainability rating system including Envision and others and should keep OC Branch members informed about changes.  Ideally, one continuing education event and one joint event with the Branch should be planned each year. The group could plan field trips to local projects. If the committee is successful with its events, ASCE could send one of the committee members to attend the national Sustainability Conference.


The nominations for Branch Awards, including planning for the annual dinner event, are coordinated each year by the branch Past-Past President who is assisted by the awards committee. As the committee Chair, he also takes the lead for coordinating Branch scholarships as well as other awards recognition programs including LA Section and Region 9 awards.  The committee also assists the Branch with nominating new executive board officers and identifies members the Branch should approach to potentially become more involved in committees, technical groups, or institutes.  The committee includes current and past Branch officers.

Contact Us

If any of these groups sound interesting to you, consider joining a committee, share your ideas, and to put those ideas into action. If you are concerned about time commitments, most of what you would be helping with can be taken care of during your lunch hour or during short periods of time throughout the day.  We like to have a lot of people working on small tasks so involvement is fun, rewarding, and sustainable.  So take advantage of these opportunities as you will gain something positive out of the experience. Hopefully one of these committees will spark your interest and I invite you to contact them to let them know you would like to assist. The committees and their chairperson’s contact information are provided on our website.

Be a part of the Orange County Branch and find what the best fit is for you.  Our website provides information about all of our committees.  Contact me at [email protected] or Gary Gilbert at [email protected] or [email protected]  and make the commitment to join us!

Related Groups/Committees