Orange County Branch Newsletter

November 2017

Secretary's Column

Big Shoes to Fill

By Clint Isa, PE

Transitions are tough.  Even in familiar territory, new leadership positions can be overwhelming.

On its own, taking over as the Secretary of the ASCE Orange County Branch has been challenging for me even with my experience in the ASCE realm.  Stepping into the cavernous shoes of an ASCE superstar like Elizabeth Ruedes (current president-elect of the ASCE Orange County Branch), though, has been downright daunting.  However, part of what has made the ASCE Orange County Branch so successful is the willingness and ability of its leaders to help their successors grow into their positions and beyond, which brings me to the point of this column.

Knowledge transfer is the essence of sustaining and advancing the engineering profession.  As a profession, earlier generations of civil engineers are entering the twilights of their careers, careers that began on one side of the technological revolution and are ending on the other.  They carry with them not just a wealth of advanced technical knowledge, but a way of thinking about problems that likely differs from those of us whose careers have been largely supported by sophisticated computer programs.  I think that, oftentimes, younger engineers (myself included) are eager to solve complex problems with complex solutions because the technology affords us the ability to do so.  What gets lost, and what earlier generations of engineers have, is the perspective of how to provide simple, yet elegant, solutions to complicated problems.

It can be tough for young engineers to find resources to help them grow and advance their careers.  Even if they have mentors in the workplace, the daily grind can make it difficult to carve out even small blocks of time to spend with experienced engineers who can share their knowledge and perspective.  That’s where ASCE comes in.

Getting involved with ASCE, in my opinion, is one of the best ways for civil engineers of all levels of experience to connect with each other and grow.  It provides an environment for experienced engineers to share their perspective and knowledge to those whose careers are just getting started; in turn, younger engineers have an opportunity to share new methods to solve problems that previous generations might not have had the opportunity to explore.  All it takes is an open mind.

So, I encourage anyone reading this to step up.  Get involved.  If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest the beginning.  The ASCE Orange County Branch has a diverse range of technical and social focuses, so there is truly something for everyone.  I can personally attest to the benefit of the Orange County Branch’s mentorship program.  The protégés I have met through the program are truly an impressive bunch and the mentors are some of the finest engineers that our distinguished area has to offer.  To find more information on ASCE OC's Mentorship Committee please see their page here: If direct mentorship isn’t for you, then I’m sure you will find something that fits. 

Experienced and young engineers alike owe it to the future of the profession to continue to learn and advance.  Remember: the goal is not just to keep the shoes from being empty, but to need bigger shoes with each passing generation.

Link to the October Meeting Minutes: http://www.asceoc.org

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