Orange County Branch Newsletter
Younger Member Forum
YMF - Western Regional Younger Member Council (WRYMC) 2016
By: Gidti Ludesirishoti and Amanda Heise
“Being my first conference, I knew I would learn a lot about ASCE’s western region but I never expected to establish so many new friendships as I did over the weekend.” - Michael Pierce (OC YMF Mentorship Chair)
If you asked any younger member who attended a “WRYMC” (Pronounced like “Righ Mac”) if they would do it again they might give you a similar response.
“This was my second time attending the WRYMC and had a blast! I think the best and most valuable part of attending is always the networking and being able to meet the other YMF groups as well as the leadership within ASCE.” - Amanda Heise (OC YMF Internal Activities Co-Chair)
WRYMC provides great networking/social opportunities, valuable soft skill workshops/presentations, and convenient access to all levels of ASCE leadership. However, most who have not been may first ask “what is WRYMC?”.
What is WRYMC?
Every year ASCE (“Society”) puts on three regional conferences that brings together the ASCE leadership from multiple regions to provide resources to help attendees become stronger leaders and professionals. ASCE Orange County Branch attended the Region 8 & 9 Multi-Region Leadership Conference (MRLC). The MRLC’s typically host 3 major “Workshops” for Section Branch leaders (WSBL), Younger Members, and Student Chapter Leaders (WSCL). The “workshop” for younger members in Region 8 & 9 is called the Western Region Younger Member Council (WRYMC).
Typical WRYMC Events
During this two-day conference there are several sessions where all three workshops are together, typically breakfasts, lunches, and a select few others. Most sessions are specific to the workshop attendees, sometimes two workshops may join for a session. Throughout every session there are members of the board of direction that migrate throughout all workshop sessions to communicate directly with all attendees of the conference.
Each WRYMC has a number of typical and unique events which are entirely different topics from previous years. If you are interested in the specific sessions of the conference feel free to see the link below for this year’s WRYMC information page:
Orange County’s Mentorship Program
Three of our own from Orange County (Ravi Shah, Tapas Dutta, and Michael Pierce) presented on “Creating a Successful Mentor/Protege Program”. This presentation discussed the success and process of Orange County’s Mentorship Program. The program has received recognition from Society and now has a Best Practice guide which other sections and branches can look to for examples.
In most recent years there has been a few non-engineer speakers who present on non-technical skills useful to engineers. This year one special guest speaker was Christian Muntean. His presentation focused on conflict resolution in the workplace. Every person will inevitably have a disagreement with a coworker, colleague, sub, or client on some issue. Learning how to manage conflicts is a vital skill for any leader. This was an engaging and fascinating presentation which provided multiple examples along with many of its lessons.
WRYMC Business Meeting
A Business Meeting was held during WRYMC in which YMFs from Region 8 and 9 came together to discuss and vote on topics that directly impact them. The meeting kicked off with three of ASCE’s top leaders: Tom Smith, ASCE Executive Director; Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., ASCE President-Elect; and Mark Woodson, P.E., L.S., D.WRE, ASCE President 2015. They each discussed ASCE’s goals in the coming year and how YM involvement is critical to achieving those objectives. After the guest speakers presented, the host for WRYMC 2017, LA YMF, shared a short video on next year’s conference. The video showcased LA landmarks and upcoming events that other YMs could look forward to in 2017. Following a presentation from the Southern Nevada Branch YMF, the masses deliberated and decided that they would be the best fit for hosting WRYMC 2018, with Hawaii YMF serving as an alternate.
ASCE President-Elect Nominees, Robin Kemper, P.E., LEED AP and Kristina Swallow, P.E., ENV SP presented their ideas and aspirations for how to improve ASCE. After a Q&A session and a thorough deliberation, Region 8 and 9 YMFs chose to support Kristina Swallow as the nominee.
This was the first Business Meeting for several OC YMF members. They found the event to be an enjoyable experience and appreciated how interactive it was.
WRYMC isn’t just a conference where attendees sit in on sessions. There are multiple breaks and sessions dedicated to networking itself. On top of those there are social activities outside of the sessions where attendees can meet each other and bond outside of the formal environments. These activities foster friendships and connections which last beyond the end of the conference. Many people I got to know in previous social events are friends which I look forward to seeing at this conference every year.
The morning pre-conference activity was a trip to the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) which was a scenic one hour drive outside of Anchorage, along the Seward Highway; in 2012, Life magazine included the Seward Highway in its list of Most Scenic Drives in the World. The tour of the facility, originally intended to be conducted from the charter buses, was quickly derailed as icy roads inside the center caused the busses to get stuck. Therefore, AWCC gave a brief overview of the animals at the facility and the rest of the tour was a slippery self-guided excursion on ice. The facility is home to a variety of native animals including elk, wood bison, moose, brown, black, and grizzly bears, lynx, owls, and a bald eagle. A highlight of the tour was getting to see three of the bears who are normally in hibernation this time of year.
The evening pre-conference event was beer tasting, pizza eating, and sledding (basically the adult version of a child’s birthday party). Attendees had a seemingly endless selection of pizza and Alaska’s best ales before hitting the slopes for some sledding. After the event, guests headed back to join all the late arrivals across from the hotel at the unofficial Brown Bag social.
Every year there is a banquet at the end of WRYMC where awards for Region 8 & 9 are presented. These awards were selected amongst the best of the best in the 10 States which make up Regions 8 and 9. We were proud to take home 2 of the 6 awards of the night. Remi Candaele was recognized as the Outstanding Young Engineer in the Private Sector and Ravi Shah was recognized as the Outstanding Young Engineer in ASCE activities.
Post-Conference Ski Social
Alaska was the first WRYMC to my knowledge to have a Post-Conference event. The Alaska YMF coordinated a bus and lift tickets for interested guests to ride at the local Aleyska snow resort. The morning started on a bus filled with excited and eager skiers and snowboarders ready to hit the slopes. YMs continued to build upon their new friendships and stronger bonds for a fun filled day on the mountain.
Orange County Involvement
This year I am proud to say Orange County was well represented at the conference. The Los Angeles Section (which OC is a part of) typically brings out the largest group. Orange County brought out the most Younger Members (14 total!) of all visitors. The attendees, new and experienced to WRYMC, were a group to be proud of. They migrated through the conference and networked with all the attendees, students, YMs, experienced leadership, and ASCE staff. The friendliness and professionalism they displayed was commendable and even referenced by other conference attendees.
Orange County members also presented at several sessions. Remi Candaele and Gidti Ludesirishoti presented at WSBL on our best practices on transitioning students and younger members. Elizabeth Ruedas presented at WSBL on how to design new websites for ASCE groups. As mentioned above Ravi Shah, Tapas Dutta, and Michael Pierce presented to WRYMC on how to build a successful Mentor/Protege program.
Also mentioned above we are very proud of our Award Winners Ravi Shah and Remi Candaele for continuing to represent Orange County and all of our achievements.
“I feel that attending this year has also made our OC YMF group even closer especially during our late-night expedition to see the northern lights! As always, it was great to see our YMF have so many nominations and awards and I’m makes me extremely proud to be a part of such an awesome group of people!” - Amanda Heise (OC YMF Internal Activities Co-Chair)
“Being that I just graduated, it was my first WRYMC and I would recommend the conference to other young professionals as it aids in the transition from being a student to a younger member. I enjoyed being able to interact with civil engineers of different disciplines, experience levels, and involvement within ASCE. Not only did I get to meet new people, but was able to get to know the members within Orange County better! The conference fostered Professional development and motivated members to continue their involvement within ASCE.” - Gaby Gonzalez (UCI Student Chapter Liaison)
We hope that any YM reading this article will consider joining us next year when the conference is hosted nearby in Los Angeles by LA YMF. If you have a YM working for you, consider encouraging them to participate in this conference. It will build several professional skills and foster lifelong industry friendships.