Orange County Branch Newsletter

December 2014

Branch News

History and Heritage and Student Fellowship Night

By: Remi Candaele, PE

The ASCE Orange County Branch enjoyed another successful History & Heritage and Student Fellowship Night at the Center Club in Costa Mesa, CA on Thursday, November 20, 2014.  Registration sold out several days prior to the event: 160 interested attendees were present, including Branch members, their guests, YMF members, and Student Chapter members from UCI, CSUF and CSULB.

The event started with a one-hour Company Meet & Greet session, during which students were invited to bring their resumes and discuss with representatives of our six sponsors, including Kimley-Horn & Associates, RBF/Michael Baker International, Rancho Mission Viejo, Orange County Sanitation District, Hatch Mott McDonald, and Hall & Foreman.

The Dinner program began with a 'Welcome' message from the new 2014-2015 OC Branch President, Gary Gilbert. This was followed by Keynote Speaker, Mr. Randy Record, Board Chairman of the Metropolitan Water District Southern California.  Mr. Record's presentation focused on the challenges his agency is facing due to the severe drought and climate change occurring in California.  The Agency has taken the steps to lead water bond negotiations in the Assembly to provide a wide range of water and resource management programs and projects throughout California.  Projects may include reservoirs, wetland and watershed improvements, groundwater sustainability, flood control and water recycling that will help improve and balance water supply reliability with ecosystem sustainability and restoration.  One high-profile project is the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) that consists of building two 30-mile long gravity flow tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to improve water supply distribution throughout the state. The BDCP would also restore and protect 145,000 acres of natural habitat. The BDCP’s comprehensive plan also aims to protect against potential climate change by improving the levee system and adapting to rising sea levels.

Randy Record, Metropolitan Water District Southern California

The President’s Plaque was introduced to Gary Gilbert, 2014-2015 President, by Penny Lew, 2013-14 President. John Hogan, Region 9 Governor and 2005-2006 OC Branch President, then introduced the OC Branch Past Presidents. John’s gave the audience anecdotes of all present Past-Presidents since the creation of the Orange County Branch in 1953.

This year’s presentation of the History & Heritage Committee featured a new format.  The Committee has been working on a series of videos that recount the history of civil engineering in Orange County, its significant infrastructures, and key leaders since the Spanish settlers established Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1776.  Over the next years, the videos will be developed and available to our membership. The efforts are being led by Isamar Escobar and a group of UCI Students.  A 3-minute trailer was shown to the attendees, showcasing an accelerated chronology of development and featuring interviews with Robert Bein, Ignacio Ochoa and Terry Hartman. Readers are invited to visualize the video here:


The three Student Chapters of OC Branch are the engine of our Society. Each of those Student Chapters nurtures the future leaders of our civil engineering industry. Numerous applications were received and leaders were selected and awarded with student scholarships.  Scholarships were handed by Past President Tapas Dutta (2012-2013) Scholarships were awarded as follows:

2014 Achievement Scholarships

  • Rodrigo Elejade - $500
  • Victor Aguirre - $2000
  • Jocelyn Diaz - $500
  • Chirath Karunathilake - $1500
  • Cynde Mercado - $1000
  • Gilbert Ramos - $500
  • Daniel Siow - $500
  • Elena Marie Sy Su - $1000
  • Michael Tocco - $500
  • Andrew Lam - $500
  • Danny Mejia - $500

Victor Aguirre accepting his award. L to R: Naveed Kharrat, YMF University Outreach Chair, Ignacio Ochoa, Victor, and Tapas Dutta, ASCE OC Past President.

2014 EWRI Scholarship

  • Cynde Mercado - $1000

2014 Transportation Scholarship

  • Daniel Siow - $1,000
  • Bowen Liang - $500

Student Group Presentations were made by the members of the Presidents of the ASCE Student Chapters of UCI (Elena Sy Su), CSUF (Jesus Velasquez) and CSULB (Victor Aguirre and Chirath Karunathilake).  Each group ran a PowerPoint presentation which covered the group's activities and outstanding achievements for the academic year 2013-2014 and current fall semester.

Remi Candaele, 2014-2015 YMF President, and Naveed Kharrat, University Outreach Chair, then addressed a message to the Student Chapters inviting them to join YMF upon graduation.  Remi’s message highlighted the achievements that have led OC YMF to be recognized as one of the best in the Nation, that YMF is the ideal place to develop soft skills, and the ever improving interactions with the Student Chapters.  Mr. Kharrat introduced the Outstanding Student Chapter Award, which recognizes a Student Chapter for its accomplishments over the past 12 months.  Naveed explained that all three Chapters had been very active and had made significant achievements, and that choosing the Outstanding Student Chapter for the year was very difficult. Ultimately, CSULB was selected to receive this award for the year 2014, and the award was presented to CSULB Chapter Co-Presidents, Victor Aguirre and Chirath Karunathilake. CSULB was thrilled to receive the award after their significant efforts to improve the chapter.

Numerous door prizes and bookstore certificates were awarded during the course of the dinner.  President Gary Gilbert brought the dinner meeting to a close with thanks to all that attended and special thanks to the volunteers for their efforts in making the History & Heritage and Student Fellowship dinner event a success.

Following the meeting, group photographs were taken of the Past Presidents, OC Branch Board of Directors (Officers), Younger Member Forum, and Student Groups.

The ASCE Orange County Board of Directors extends their sincere thanks and appreciation to the following sponsors for their support of the Annual History & Heritage and Student Fellowship Night:

Platinum Sponsor

Gold Sponsors


Silver Sponsor

Bronze Sponsor

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