Orange County Branch Newsletter

Established 1953

July 2020

President's Message

Practicing Empathy and Standing up for Injustice

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

These last several months have proven to be difficult for many reasons. Along the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, staggering unemployment numbers, an economic impact that even our brightest economists don’t fully have a grasp of yet and the continued systemic racism throughout our Country have been incredibly difficult for everyone and most importantly those within the underserved and underrepresented communities.

The only thing which is certain in these difficult times is that we are all unique and we each have a different way of dealing with tough situations, grief, uncertainty for ourselves and for loved ones.

Growing up, I don’t recall the first time I heard the famous idiom, “Before you judge a person, try walking a mile in their shoes”, but it’s something I’ve never forgotten and it rings true today more than ever. If there is one thing I am certain of in these uncertain times – it is that we are all human and it doesn’t cost a thing to treat others with humanity and to practice empathy.

As engineers, our responsibility as stewards of our environment and infrastructure are critical, but it is our ability to empathize and to listen to the communities, stakeholders and clients we serve while balancing social, economic and environmental concerns that give engineers the credibility and trust as experts. It is with that same mindset we must remain diligent and practice these positive qualities today more than ever - and beyond just engineering. We must remain vocal, we must stand up for social injustice and we must help fight for those who may not have the voice to fight for themselves.

These last few weeks following the death of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, and so many more like them, for which their deaths were senseless and avoidable, have brought once again to the forefront our failure as a nation to collectively put an end to the racism that is still all too alive more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Instead, it has become clear that we all must work together towards a more just society and stand with those in the black community who need our support and our voices the most right now. 

As a proud ASCE member, our Code of Ethics helps define the model for professional conduct. Among these eight cannons, Cannon 8. Treat All Persons Fairly, states:

While the cannon specifically states, “in all matters related to their profession”, we live in a world where all of our professions bleed into our daily lives, so we must hold ourselves to the highest standard of Cannon 8 within not only our profession, but our daily lives. Please join me and the Branch in this pledge to hold this standard as paramount for not only ourselves, but those in our lives. It is not the time to remain silent. If you’d like to support or donate to this cause there are numerous non-profit organizations which can use your support. 

Finally, as part of the Orange County Branch, I am proud that we have leaders amongst our ranks who are voices of positivity and change during challenging times and controversy. Our Branch remains diverse in its leaders and one that continues to set an example. Our Younger Members and Student Chapters – the future of our profession, are outspoken leaders and have taken a strong stance against systemic racism. For example, the UCI student chapter has launched an Ethical Engineering Series called, Engineering a More Equitable Society: Healing Injustice within the Civil Engineering World ( The Society has done the same Our Branch is committed to standing in solidarity with those who need it most. We know that together we can all make a difference. If you have any questions or would like to discuss with us, please feel free to reach out.

Orange County Branch Updates

In a hundred years, I would not have expected my year as President of the Orange County Branch to have been uprooted and turned on its head nearly halfway through it. Though as no surprise, it’s evident how resilient and adaptable our members, volunteers and in-general our profession remains. Most have adapted to working from home by now and whether it’s with your furry friend or a full house, working from home and virtual meetings where you can hear children, dogs, cats, birds and lawnmowers, will never remain the same. We’ve embraced this new normal as we’ve moved our events virtual. We’ve had some great events recently including a Virtual Graduation for graduating seniors from UCI, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach who were given a small opportunity to celebrate the completion of years of hard work by obtaining their degrees; our annual Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition for high school students and we held our first virtual Branch luncheon on the construction of the SOFI stadium. I hope you were able to enjoy these events if you participated, there are many more to come. As of now, our Branch will continue to limit large in-person group events and while we look forward to the opportunity to seeing you all in-person as we return to a new normal over the coming months, we will be diligent in ensuring the safety of our communities and our members. Our Branch and YMF will continue to remain active during these times. If you have a chance, please join us for one of our upcoming events - we look forward to seeing you (virtually, of course!) at our next event.

We hope you all continue to remain positive, healthy and safe.

Take Care,
Ravi Shah, PE
President ASCE OC Branch

About the Author

Ravi Shah is a Transportation Project Manager in Orange County, CA with Mark Thomas. He is the current President of ASCE Orange County Branch and a Past President (2012-2013) of the ASCE Orange County Younger Member Forum. He has been actively involved with ASCE as a professional since 2010 and enjoys giving back to the community. In his free time, he enjoys traveling with his wife and enjoying good food and wine. Ravi can be contacted at [email protected] or on LinkedIn.


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Virtual Happy Hours April and May 2020

These past few months of quarantine have made it difficult to connect with one another the way we used to. However, we found ways to stay in touch with our YMF family and maintain social ties from home via Zoom Virtual Happy Hours on April 22nd and May 28th. At first, the task of having 20+ individuals in a conference room and socializing was daunting. With the help of our fellow board members Chuck, Ashlyn, and Jazzy we were able to find a solution and brainstormed utilizing the Zoom breakout rooms feature. We planned to host one large zoom session with all participants and then utilizing the Zoom breakout rooms, assigned everyone into their desired room with 4-6 people in each room. This allowed everyone to join one zoom session while also being subdivided into smaller rooms where everyone can get a chance to talk and socialize with others.

Each chat room contained its own unique theme. We had workout rooms for the health inclined individuals to follow along with a workout video and break a sweat together. A Netflix room was created as a space dedicated to talking about the trendiest shows everyone was watching at home (Tiger King was a hot topic). In a game room, contestants used Jackbox Games to play a variety of mini games. These games ranged from surviving a murderous trivia hotel to detecting an alien amidst the human crew members. Finally, we had a Disney themed drawing room where everyone followed along with a drawing tutorial. Together we watched a video from California Adventure’s Animation Academy and drew the character Baymax together.

Overall, the diverse options available for each participant, as well as the opportunity to see friendly faces from home, have made the Zoom social events a big success. We are looking forward to further diversifying the social activities we have available for the members and figuring out creative ways to connect with one another.

Members draw the Disney character Baymax together in one of the Zoom Breakout Rooms.

About the Authors

Darlyn Hernandez is a Design Engineer at Mark Thomas in Irvine, CA. Darlyn enjoys dedicating her time to hosting social ASCE events but when she's not planning an event, she enjoys going on a spontaneous Disney trip in the afternoon.

Raul Rodriguez currently works at HNTB as a Roadway Designer. Whether it's playing arena soccer on Sundays, weight training, or boxing, Raul enjoys being active. But he could just as easily spend the weekend hanging out with family and friends to watch a movie or play a board game (Citadels is his favorite).


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ASCE OC Mentorship Program

First Pilot Mid-Year Check-In A Success!

On May 6, 2020, the ASCE OC Mentorship Program successfully held its first ever pilot Zoom meeting for its Mid-Year Check-in event. There were 37 total participants in attendance for this virtual meeting. The themes for this meeting were “Bridging the Generational Gap” with guest speaker Rob Himes and “Adaptation in Times of Crisis” with guest speaker Nadia Mugisha.

Prior to the meeting, the Mentorship Committee sent two questionnaires to the program participants with a series of questions pertaining to the theme topics. Rob used the answers from the questionnaires to explain diversity within the workplace, highlight the differences between the age groups, and touch upon how we can all overcome these differences. Following Rob’s presentation was a friendly game of Family Feud!

Nadia further expanded on answers from the questionnaires and spoke on how people in general can adapt to times of crisis, including staying motivated, focusing on the big picture, and practicing self-care. In addition, the Mentorship Program also accepted voluntary donations for Shields for Nurses, a group created by ASCE LA YMF’s President Brian Phan which 3D prints PPE shields and distributes them to hospitals in the OC and LA counties. The Mentorship Program alone raised up to $300!

For more information about the Mentorship Program, click the following link:

About the Author

Lydia Chun is an Associate Traffic Engineer at Iteris, Inc. She is a UCI alumni and previous participant in the Mentorship Program. She enjoys the outdoors and watches too many cat videos online. Lydia can be contacted at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.


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Kicking-Off 2020 Work from Home Photo Challenges!

In light of the coronavirus continuing to affect our daily lives, we've missed all the amazing people that inspire the strength and purpose of our ASCE Orange County family. Zoom meetings and events became the norm and it refocused our energies and time to new hobbies and talents!

Through the power of technology and social media, the ASCE OC YMF Communications Committee introduced the Work from Home Photo Challenge on Instagram in May 2020.

It is in an effort to reconnect with our wonderful members and continually encourage positivity during an otherwise challenging pandemic time. The bi-weekly photo challenge kicked-off with the following three topics:

  • May 18th to 29th: Furry Pals
  • June 1st to 12th: Baby Pictures
  • June 15th to 26th: ASCE Friendships

ASCE OC Work from Home Challenge Promotional Flyer

During Furry Pals Week, we met some of our local civil engineers’ favorite quarantine buddies. They ranged from dogs, cats, bunnies, stuffed animals, and even a pet rock! Working from home just wouldn’t be the same without them. We can also agree, they are so photogenic!

Furry Pals Week Photo Submissions! Meet more furry pals here.

Baby Photos Week was adorable, charming, and just all-around sweet! We met the leaders of tomorrow and the future of engineering, as babies! Fifteen local civil engineers submitted their photos, and we are so proud of how far they have come! Can you guess who’s who?

Baby Photos Week Photo Submissions! Find out who’s who here.

For ASCE Friendships Week, we shared fond memories with our ASCE friends. It truly reminded us that despite the pandemic, we will always find our way back home to our ASCE OC family. From meeting in college to attending local events, it is truly amazing to see how many friendships were made through ASCE OC over the years. We are grateful and excited for all the other wonderful memories we will make in the future!

ASCE Friendships Week Photo Submissions (For Any Occasion)! Check out captured memories of more ASCE friendships here.

ASCE Friendships Week Photo Submissions (For All Seasons)! Check out captured memories of more ASCE friendships here.

ASCE Friendships Week Photo Submissions (For The Memories)! Check out captured memories of more ASCE friendships here.

In addition to reminiscing and seeing photos from our members’ photo archives, our ASCE OC Instagram followers were also able to play along with us and learn some fun facts about the memories through our Instagram stories’ trivia games. It brought a whole new life to just posting the photo, and it definitely made creating the challenges more interesting and fun!

Did you miss any of these challenges? Well, today must be your lucky day! Due to the success of our first three challenges, we’ve added three new bi-weekly topics! Please see below for our schedule!

  • June 29th to July 10th: Homemade Food
  • July 13th to July 24th: Hobbies/Special Talents
  • July 27th to August 7th: Engineering Projects

Submit a photo relating to the bi-weekly topic here and get a shoutout on our ASCE OC Instagram page! Photos are published every Friday afternoons bi-weekly.

Upcoming Work from Home Challenge Promotional Flyer

For questions, comments, or suggestions about future Work From Home Challenges, please email [email protected]!

About the Author

Marionne Lapitan is a Civil Associate in the Traffic/ITS Department at Michael Baker International. She is currently the CSULB ASCE Practitioner Advisor/Liaison and the Communications Committee Co-Chair for ASCE OC YMF. Actively involved in various professional organizations, she is passionate about designing and building communities, both structurally and socially. She aims to make a difference in the world through civil engineering in hopes of building a brighter future for the next generation. She also enjoys traveling, graphic designing, and reading books in her free time. Marionne can be contacted via [email protected] or LinkedIn.


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Scotch Whisky Tasting

On June 9th, SEI OC hosted a Balvenie Scotch tasting with Neil Strachan, the Brand Ambassador for William Grant & Sons, Inc. Due to the stay-at-home orders, we met via Zoom. [We weren’t going to stop the fun!] We tasted the Balvenie Doublewood (aged 12 years), the Balvenie Caribbean Cask (aged 14 years), and the Balvenie Doublewood (aged 17 years). In doing so, we learned how different barrels that hold the whisky can impart different flavors on the whisky in our glass.

Neil explained the five rare crafts at the Balvenie distillery, which show how traditional methods produce great whisky. We heard stories about the distillery, including how you can get the “monkey shoulder” from turning the grain, how you used to get your daily ration of whisky at the distillery while working at the distillery, and how great the scotch tastes on Malaysian beaches! The proceeds will benefit the SEI student scholarship. Look for a repeat event for when we can meet again, Neil says he’ll bring the good stuff!

About the Author

Jason Fix, PE, is a Bridge Engineer for McLean & Schultz. He has over 10 years of experience working on bridges and structures in Orange County. He is interested in exploring the civil engineering field and sharing knowledge within the professional network. Jason can be contacted at [email protected].


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ASCE OC Sustainability Committee

Sustainable Infrastructure Post COVID-19

The future of sustainable infrastructure post COVID-19 may seem uncertain like many other aspects of our community. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the social, environmental, and economic impacts are overwhelmingly experienced in all parts of the world. The pandemic has made clear the urgency to develop sustainable infrastructure in order to address the impending social, environmental, and public health issues. Public agencies are transforming their infrastructure plans to consider the various shifts in lifestyle during a pandemic. For instance, cities are racing to establish bikeway projects to avoid the increase of single occupancy vehicle traffic, due to a heightened caution to use public transit. Major cities, such as London, Paris, New York, and Milan are temporarily giving back roads to the pedestrians and cyclists (Source). Working from home could be the new normal. Tech companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, are allowing their employees to telecommute and work remotely – permanently (Source). Public spaces will need to be constructed or re-designed to allow for social distancing. The ASCE OC Sustainability Committee presents a series of articles focused on how sustainable infrastructure should be shaped with the pandemic in mind.

As stated by Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), “This is a watershed moment for us! COVID-19 underscores what sustainability professionals have known all along that the global economy, our health and well-being, and the natural world are interconnected. At the center of these three systems are our infrastructure networks. To avoid or mitigate future threats, we cannot afford to deliver infrastructure that has been designed and built using outdated processes and practices.” (Source).

A Case for Transportation Electrification

Sustainable infrastructure post COVID-19 should incorporate a multi-faceted approach to transportation electrification. Inspired by the Roadmap 2.0 plan developed by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) (Source), transportation electrification would significantly contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals currently set by California, Los Angeles County, and some cities in Orange County.

When stay-at-home orders were in place, vehicles on the road significantly decreased. Even with greater than 40% traffic reductions, recent studies using data collected by the EPA show that the ozone pollutant has only slightly decreased (Source). The research explains that heavy-duty transportation, such as trucks and buses, accounts for the largest source of nitrogen oxides, which form ozone. Truck fleets continue to stay on roads during this time to ensure that goods are shipped to stores and homes. Developing zero-emission methods of goods movement will be pertinent for reducing emissions and other pollutants. California regulators recently approved new rules that would force automakers to sell more electric work trucks and delivery vans (Source). The California Air Resources board estimates at the rule’s full implementation in 2035, “At least 15% of the 1.2 million trucks on the road would run on electricity and create thousands of new jobs.” This rule is the first of its kind and will set precedent to future region and county-wide goals focused on increased adoption of electric trucks. Other ideas to contribute to the zero-emission goods movement include piloting electric cargo bicycles for first/last-mile delivery and testing drone delivery.

Increasing the adoption of electric vehicles and expanding charging infrastructure is also key to meeting transportation electrification measures. Annual goals should be established on the number of electric vehicles sold and programs should be developed that encourage removal of older internal combustion vehicles. More electric vehicle discounts and incentives should be established for Orange County, encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles. Currently, only Southern California Electric (SCE) has a Clean Fuel Reward Program (Source), which includes an incentive for purchasing an electric vehicle and installing home EV charging infrastructure. To promote widespread adoption among all socioeconomic classes, distribution programs should be piloted and established to offer low income and disadvantaged households a personal or shared electric vehicle. This initiative should be paired with establishing new construction and renovation requirements on the number of charging stations to be built on public and private property and located to be accessible to all. Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has expressed their efforts of moving toward a 100 percent zero-emission electric bus fleet (Source), an effort that will significantly contribute to transportation electrification and its associated goals.

With the increase in electricity demand, it is important to also consider improving and expanding the electricity grid. As of June 2019, California has the highest reliance on natural gas to generate electricity, with renewables as a close second (Source). The electricity grid in Orange County should set requirements to increasingly rely on renewable sources, with the ultimate goal of 100% renewables. Research and investment should be focused on efficient energy storage and managing increased demand for electricity since renewable energy sources are not always readily available.

A major focus on transportation electrification post-COVID-19 is pertinent to help meet emission reduction goals and contribute to overall efforts in climate change mitigation. In order to effectively take action towards transportation electrification, we must ensure that it is accessible, equitable, and provides positive impacts to all communities—including low income and underrepresented communities.

About the Author

Tonia Wang is a civil engineer specialized in rail/highway design and sustainability coordination. As a part of HNTB, she is currently working on XpressWest, a high-speed rail line from Southern California to Las Vegas. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley where she obtained a master’s in civil engineering, in the Energy, Civil Infrastructure, and Climate Change graduate program.


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ASCE OC Branch

June Luncheon - SoFi Stadium Construction

On June 18th, the OC branch hosted the monthly luncheon via Zoom. Niel Prunier, AIA (Vice President, HKS) and Jose Cruz, PE, MS, QSD/P (Project Manager, David Evans and Associates, Inc) presented their experience in the construction of the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

Niel brought the perspective of the architect and explained how the over 70,000 seat stadium utilized the translucent ETFE roof to capture the Southern California climate. The unique material performs several tasks for the stadium roof. Sunlight is allowed in while still providing a roof for non-sporting events. Reflections are controlled which is crucial near the LAX airport. In addition, the stadium is themed to match the California landscape with many local plants utilized.

Jose presented the challenges of delivering a complicated project with many moving parts. He highlighted how the utilities were mapped weekly in 3D to identify conflicts. With many different disciplines coordinating on a large project it is crucial to find workable solutions. The complex coordination allows the delivery of several projects at the same site.

With the stadium opening soon, we can look forward to this addition to Southern California’s entertainment scene.

About the Author

Jason Fix, PE, is a Bridge Engineer for McLean & Schultz. He has over 10 years of experience working on bridges and structures in Orange County. He is interested in exploring the civil engineering field and sharing knowledge within the professional network. Jason can be contacted at [email protected].


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Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation

On June 20, 2020, the ASCE OC University Outreach Committee had the honor of hosting a Virtual Graduation for the students of CSUF, CSULB, and UCI. The Graduation was held on Zoom and had 50 attendees. We featured each graduate individually and read their favorite college memory and post-graduation plans. To celebrate the students, we had raffles and Senior Best Awards (Mr./Mrs. Engineer, Most likely to open their own engineering firm, etc.).

The event also featured a Question and Answer panel with four of our local industry professionals (Ashlyn Alexander, Taki Chrysovergis, Amber Shah, & Mathew Picardal). The panel was led by Jeff Braun and addressed the students’ questions regarding their transition from student to industry professional. Ravi Shah and Gyssela Quinabo gave a short presentation on how students can get involved with ASCE post-graduation. With the help of our institutes, “Cheat Sheets” were sent out containing tips and tricks for the graduates to begin their careers.

We ended the celebration with the reveal of the “Senior Surprise” and students will be receiving their gifts in the mail. We hope the students had as much fun during the graduation as our committee did planning the event. Congrats Class of 2020!

About the Author

Gabreelle currently works at Fuscoe Engineering as an Engineer on the Commercial Team. At Fuscoe, she works on a variety of projects ranging from hotels, wineries, mixed-use, commercial sites, etc. Gabreelle serves as University Outreach Chair and works closely with the three Orange County Universities (UC Irvine, CSUF, CSULB). She enjoys providing support and resources to the student chapters in helping them transition to the professional industry.


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Joint Pavement Rehab and Engineering Virtual Event

ASCE OC/SD YMF held the Pavement Rehab and Engineering joint virtual event on Tuesday, June 23rd.

Roger Schlierkamp, Director of Pavement Engineering at GMU, gave a pavement engineering/rehab presentation that focused on the factors that impact pavement performance and cost. Other topics included the various types of pavement cracking, assessment and lab testing of pavement conditions, and pavement repair and rehabilitation. Roger also showed real-world example projects where these methods were successfully used. Interactive questions and gift-card raffle competitions were also included.

The collaboration was a success with over 56 attendees from Orange County and San Diego. Over $120 worth of donations for the Ronald McDonald House OC Emergency Fund were also raised. This was also a great example of how different ASCE branches and YMF groups could help and connect with each other during these times.

Special thanks to ASCE SD YMF, particularly Tan Cao for spearheading the collaboration and hosting the event, as well as Stephanie Catubig for making the eye-catching flyer.

About the Author

Mathew Picardal is a Structural Project Manager at DCI Engineers. He received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and his master's degree in structural engineering from UC San Diego. His project portfolio includes the structural design of commercial, residential, mixed-use, religious, and retail projects. Mathew can be contacted at [email protected] or


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ASCE OC Branch

Welcome New Members!

Welcome to the American Society of Civil Engineers! We are happy you joined us in ASCE's Orange County Branch. Remember...there are 101 ways to benefit from your membership with ASCE. Become involved, educate yourself on an engineering topic outside of your expertise, and build relationships with others in the industry - to name a few.

Please contact a Board Member if you have questions, or a committee chairperson to become involved.

Welcome New Members:

June 2020

Brennan Ackermann, S.M.ASCE
Saeedeh Farivar, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE
Haley Herberg, S.M.ASCE
Jyckob Kadmous, S.M.ASCE
Shivaraj Patil, S.M.ASCE
Janus Alben Perez, S.M.ASCE
Elias Sebhatu, P.E.,M.ASCE
Emily Sherwood, P.E.,M.ASCE
Daniel Ward, A.M.ASCE
Madison Wernke, A.M.ASCE
Jorge Zepeda, S.M.ASCE

May 2020

Phuc Vu, S.M.ASCE
Eric Freund, Aff.M.ASCE
Kim Martinez, S.M.ASCE
Amelia Bautista, S.M.ASCE
Nash Lybrook, S.M.ASCE
Alexandria Walsten, S.M.ASCE
Soheil Oruji, A.M.ASCE

April 2020

Ramesh Kumar Battu, S.M.ASCE
Niloufar Behboud, S.M.ASCE
Kumari Bharil, P.E.,M.ASCE
Jeremy Bharwani, S.M.ASCE
Shirin Kianidovom, S.M.ASCE
Maxwell Kool, S.M.ASCE
An Nguyen, S.M.ASCE
Matthew Palacios, S.M.ASCE
Derak Pelt, S.M.ASCE
Brandon Quan, S.M.ASCE
Julie Saleh, A.M.ASCE
Ammar Salem, S.M.ASCE
Samantha Vi-Tang, S.M.ASCE
Joyce Wu, S.M.ASCE


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Publications Committee

Newsletter Information

Do you have an interesting topic you would like to share?  We are always looking for new and relevant content to distribute to our members relating to Civil Engineering in Orange County (no ads!).  If you have an idea please feel free to submit it to the Publications Committee! You will receive a confirmation email; however, no further acknowledgment will be sent.  There is no guarantee of publication.

Advertising Rates:

Company Business Cards / Professional Directory: $500 for 177px X 300px company business card placed in the bimonthly newsletter and on our website for the year.

Newsletter ads: Tier 1 - $350 (top section), Tier 2 - $300 (middle section), Tier 3 - $250 (bottom section) for 300px X 800px ad placed between articles in the bimonthly newsletter for the year.

Annual Sponsorship Opportunities: See our website for information on how to become an annual sponsor for even more benefits.

For more advertising and billing information please contact our Publications Committee at [email protected]

National ASCE: (800) 548-2723 (ASCE),

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