Orange County Branch Newsletter

December 2013

President's Message

President's Message - OC Branch ASCE Committees - Part 1

By Penny Lew, P.E.

In last month’s article I said that the Branch institutes and technical groups are a vital part of the Branch. Just as vital are the Branch committees which is why this month I want to focus on these groups.  The committees are also reaching out and welcome your participation. Being involved in a committee can provide a wealth of opportunities for you to benefit in different areas including technical, networking, and professional development.  For anyone who takes the opportunity and volunteers his/her time, this could be quite a rewarding experience. 

The beauty of having members from different backgrounds provides an arena for a variety of different ideas to be shared and implemented.  The common goal of the committees is to find ways to come up with activities to bring the most value to our members, to further the goals of our branch, and to grow both professionally and personally.

Our branch committees have been busy working on events, goals, and developing their mission.  We have a variety of committees that all have something to contribute to the branch "big picture." With your expertise, experience, or connections, you could give them a boost. Some of our members have contacted us wanting to help out, but were not sure just what the responsibilities are for each committee.  Therefore, now is a good time to reach you all by providing a summary. 

New Committees
We are excited to announce the formation of two new committees:

Community Service Committee
We look forward to the ideas and activities this new committee develops and executes for the Branch.  For the upcoming year, we hope to hold at least a couple of community service type events that could include tutoring, beach or park clean-up days, group building activities, food collection for charities, etc.  This committee would work with other non-profits for joint events.

Social Committee
The branch is looking for a group of members who can plan about three different social events per year that will bring together as many of the Orange County Branch members as possible. The possibilities are endless and these events can be joint activities in conjunction with our other committees and groups.  Examples of these events are mixers, art related events, social mixers, hiking trips, sports related, and special tours.

Existing Committees
The following are descriptions of some of the existing Branch committees and what they plan to accomplish in the next year and what their longer term goals are:

K-12 Student Outreach
Committee members use fun and educational hands-on learning activities, classroom presentations, friendly competitions (such as the annual popsicle stick bridge) and community service events.  These activities demonstrate practical applications of math, science and civil engineering in our daily lives and include school visitations and participation on Career Days. Their goal is to visit four to six schools per year. One way you can help is to get the group to visit your children’s schools, so contact them and they can set something up a visitation.

Ideally this group should start programs such as a Civil Engineering Club in OC high schools and coordinate with schools having STEM and ACE programs.

Life Member Forum
The LMF brings in new members every year for those who qualify.  Members are often contacted for their engineering advice and consultation during natural disasters. They also get involved with local issues putting their years of experience to good work in support of good causes. The LMF should plan a minimum of one event per year as well as joint events with the Branch and YMF. Other activities this group would be involved with includes outreach to life members on an individual basis, assist with oral histories and historical engineering landmarks, student groups, K-12 outreach, assist with tours, and participate in Institutes and Technical Groups.

Professional Practice
The Professional Development Committee is responsible for looking for opportunities to bring seminars to members in soft skills, leadership and to help advance members professionally.  The group also carries out activities or tasks that advance the collective profession and would contribute articles in our newsletter on related topics. Examples of topics include generational differences, working with different personalities, cultural diversity, public speaking, technical writing, retirement, mentoring, ethics, proposed licensing changes, Raising the Bar - Society Strategic Initiative, etc.

Programs Committee
This is a very active committee who plans and coordinates at 10 monthly luncheons per year. A lot of coordination and attention to details are required to allow us to hold our events each month. Monthly conference calls with the Board are organized by the committee for planning the calendar of events. Committee members coordinate with presenters and the venue and is responsible for preparing and sending out the email announcements prior to events. It also works with other committees and technical groups/ institutes for joint events.

This committee develops strategies for promoting events and finds the best ways to get the word out about our events.  It is responsible for helping bring in company sponsorships.  These sponsorships help us to raise funds with a significant portion that go towards grants to students and K-12 activities.  Committee members help maintain the business cards for the professional directory and newsletter advertisements, finds sponsors for the monthly lunches. For the monthly newsletter, the committee coordinates to provide an article for the newsletter feature “Company/Agency/Project Spotlight”.

Public Relations
This committee keeps a list of our local media contacts and is responsible for getting press releases to them on our events when needed.  Social media are used to get the word out about upcoming events and to give updates on activities by the Branch as well as to post newsletter articles.  For the next year, the committee should be looking into utilizing other media to promote the profession and public infrastructure.

Student Groups
When school is in session, committee members meet with the ASCE Student Board at each of the three local student chapters under the Branch (UCI, CSULB, and CSUF) on a monthly basis.  They also coordinate with Practitioner Advisors to provide mentoring to the students; coordinate to have schools prepare a presentation for the annual History & Heritage and Students’ Night Dinner, coordinate to have students apply to the OC Branch for scholarships, and encourage matriculation to Associate ASCE membership and transition to Younger Member Forum.

The committee co-chairs are responsible for communicating with our universities. The group visits each of the universities regularly and coordinates their interaction with the branch and helps them with fundraisers for their events; plan barbeques, other events and regular meetings with the students.   For the upcoming years, we would like the committee to assist in providing the student groups more exposure to companies and agencies within Orange County.  Also, this group should assist student groups with Pacific Southwest Conference and work more closely with Practitioner advisers.
A few years ago we revamped the newsletter to fully digital it has been much more user-friendly and dynamic where you can find info about our branch and all the activities more easily. The website needs updating every so often and additions are also needed so the committee needs to coordinate with the website consultant and test features and trouble shoot. 

Contact Us
I encourage you all to really consider joining a committee, to share your ideas, and to put those ideas into action. If you are concerned about time commitments, most of what you would be helping with can be taken care of during your lunch hour or during short periods of time throughout the day, typically 6 to 8 hours a month. So take advantage of these opportunities as you will gain something positive out of the experience.  Hopefully one of these committees will spark your interest and I invite you to contact them to let them know you would like to assist.  The committees and their chairperson’s contact information are provided in the newsletter and our website.

Be a part of the Orange County Branch and find what the best fit is for you.  Next month I will provide descriptions of the committees not provided in this month’s article. Also remember, our website [url= ] [/url]; provides information on our committees.  If you have any questions or would like to participate in one of the committees, you can contact me at  or Gary Gilbert at