Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2014

President's Message

Highlights of the OC Branch October ‘13-September ‘14

By Penny Lew, P.E.

When the Board had its first ever weekend retreat last November, we set out to find the gaps within Branch committees, institutes and other groups that needed to be filled.  We also came up with a list of items we wanted to implement and came up with strategies and plans to do so.   We delved into finding solutions and brainstormed many ideas to help us reach those goals and to provide more value to your ASCE membership. Every committee and technical group was a topic of discussion that weekend. Many of the ideas were put to the test and implemented this year.  

I want to thank all of our Board members - Gary Gilbert, P.E. G.E., Cindy Miller, P.E., Tapas Dutta, P.E., and Steven King P.E., for their time and efforts in making this a very good year.  Working and collaborating with Gary these past couple of years I found his enthusiasm for ASCE to be very contagious.  I suspect that as the new Branch President, Gary will make the next ASCE year very successful.

December luncheon with Richard Markuson and EWB members

Some of the major goals the Board had set out for the Branch was to provide more tours, more technical seminars, better coordination and closer relationship with the university chapters and better communication with Orange County K-12 schools.  Here is what transpired over the past year:

This year we wanted to offer a couple of different type events that would provide a more social atmosphere for our members and that would allow students and younger members opportunities to network in a more relaxed setting.   So we coordinated 3 tours, a hike (although another hike will be held in October) and a Jog-a-Thon. Each tour provided interesting facts and civil engineering challenges about each site which made for successful events.

Last October we provided a tour of OC Public Work’s Villa Park Dam as a joint event with EWRI. The tour to the ARTIC site in January was so popular that we had to consider offering an additional tour.  In July we teamed up with OC Waste & Recycling for the tour at Coyote Canyon Landfill.   Just earlier this month we partnered with Rancho Mission Viejo for a tour of Cow Camp Road (see article in this month’s newsletter).  These events were well-attended so we hope to continue providing tours this upcoming year.  With your help in identify interesting projects, we can continue to have these type events.


Villa Park Dam Tour

OC Waste & Recycling tour at the Coyote Canyon Landfill

Taking place at the trails in Laguna Wilderness last April, our first ever hiking event with members from the Branch, YMF and student chapters attending, proved to be a successful event bringing ASCE members of all age groups together in one event.

The Jog-A-Thon fund raiser was our first event of this kind and was shared with YMF.  On a very warm morning last May, we completed the event where the efforts of 48 runners/joggers/walkers received pledges from friends, family, and colleagues.  The event was held at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine where students, Branch and YMF members joined to raise funds for the university student chapters.

First Annual Jog-A-Thon

With the new institutes established by the Branch this year, we were able to hold joint luncheons with GI, and SEI. In attendance at these events, were some “new” faces which we are always happy to see.

Thanks to Josue Vaglienty, P.E., Programs Chair who coordinated most of our events that included working with Board members, event presenters and venues.    

Student Outreach AHUSD
Last fall, a high school civil engineering outreach event took ASCE members to classroom visits at Western High School through the Anaheim Union High School District. In collaboration with teachers involved in a STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) associated with CSU Fullerton, the group addressed a group of 10th and 11th graders.  What came out of the visit was an invitation by the school district to provide training to teachers  about the field of civil engineering. The training program was introduced to teachers in August and generated excitement about the program ASCE presented. Since then, our K-12 committee has been planning to respond to the multiple requests from teachers for ASCE OC to present to students this academic year.  Thank you Gary, Hugo Pineda, P.E., Steven King, P.E., Rudy Emami, P.E., and Josue for enhancing the K thru 12 Program.     

Community Service and Community Engineering Corps (CEC)
In my April newsletter article, I described the new program introduced by ASCE Society headquarters where Branches and Sections would find projects that would benefit underserved communities within our region.  In collaboration with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Orange County Professionals, the Orange County Branch has been looking into a potential project with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  The project will be submitted for review by ASCE Society headquarters in October to determine its eligibility for the CEC program.
In addition, the Branch has signed up to participate at Salt Creek Beach at the annual California Coastal Clean-Up Day. We are happy to offer participation in such an event through the OC Branch as a part of our service to the Orange County community.

Mentorship Program
Initiated by the LA Section, the OC Branch mentorship program was selected to be a part of the pilot program. The Branch and YMF have joined to develop framework and guidelines for the program to help provide mentors and mentees support and information for a successful mentorship experience.   Hopefully the program will take off in the next month or so.

Technical Groups
With the addition of two new technical institutes this year, the Orange County Branch now boasts a total of five technical groups that include:
Environmental & Water Resources Institute (EWRI) with Mujahid Chandoo, P.E., EWRI Chair,
Transportation Technical Group (TTG) with Julia Wu, P.E., TTG President,
Geotechnical Institute (G-I) with Clint Issa, P.E., GI Chair,
Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) with Doug Moon, P.E., SEI Chair,
Construction Institute (CI) with Amber Girard, P.E., CI Chair.  

The new groups, SEI and CI including one of the newer institutes, GI are all off to a good start. We would like all the groups to continue providing quality programs and seminars.

Continuing Ed
This year’s committee really stepped up their efforts to provide four continuing education seminars since last year. Led by committee chair Wei Zhu, P.E., the committee helping to coordinate and formulate the events.

After receiving feedback from many of you, the Board made it a goal this past year to provide more technical seminars to our members.  We did so by providing seminars in conjunction with GI, Sustainability Committee, EWRI, and Disaster Preparedness. A fifth event is in the planning stages for November with TTG.   

This year with the help of Past President Josh Nelson, P.E. working with our website consultant, we implemented the weekly calendar resulting in one email per week to our members providing all upcoming Branch events.  We are hoping that this change reduces the number of emails sent to you all so let us know what your thoughts are on this.

This year the committee, led by chair John Merrill, P.E., was tasked to revamp our sponsorship program so that firms and organizations can more easily sign up and contribute. Plans are to implement the new program this upcoming ASCE year.      

Disaster Preparedness
We are fortunate to have found Sudi Shoja, P.E. our new chair for this committee.  Sudi’s experience has already been a benefit to the Branch as she helped provide training at the Safety Assessment Program (SAP) training last month.  We look forward to more events related to this all-important subject.

Student Groups (Universities) 
With the assistance of Eric Walker, EIT from ASCE Younger Member Forum group, the Board participated in meetings with students at the local chapters including CSU Fullerton, UCI and CSU Long Beach to learn more about what the chapters are involved in and to better coordinate budgets and cross school events between the Branch and the universities. In the next year, the board and Branch will be helping the schools plan for hosting upcoming ASCE Pacific Southwest Student conferences.

This year the Branch is offering a total of five scholarships including three Branch scholarships, one from EWRI and another by TTG (its first). Collaboration between the Branch and Rancho Mission Viejo resulted in the new Ignacio Ochoa Student Scholarship.     

In Appreciation
My sincere thank you to all of the companies and agencies who have sponsored our events and allow their staff to volunteer for our organization.  A special thanks goes to OC Public Works and  OC Waste and Recycling for allowing staff to present at our various events and to IRWD and the City of Irvine for providing facilities for our continuing education seminars.  Without your help, volunteers and sponsors we would not be able to reach our goals.

A very special thanks goes to Tracy Highwart of Michael Baker International for helping us put together and release the newsletter each month.

I hope to see you all at our events this new ASCE year and perhaps see some of you volunteer in one of our many committees.

Related Groups/Committees