Through our series of meetings thus far in India, Executive Director Pat Natale and I have been exploring opportunities to advance the civil engineering profession in a part of the world teeming with infrastructure development. A highlight has been meeting and working with our India Section, ASCE’s largest international section with more than 3,000 members.
In New Delhi last Thursday, we visited the civil engineering department at Delhi Technological University and received a warm welcome from both faculty and students. Pat Natale and I laid out ASCE’s strategic initiatives and potential ways of working together, and attendees responded strongly to the idea of forming an ASCE international student group at the university. One student leader was so enthusiastic, he said he would encourage every civil engineering student at the university to join ASCE by emailing the link to our website.
That evening we engaged in stimulating discussions with faculty members from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Topics ranged far and wide, touching on sustainability, adaptation to climate change and their interest in lessons learned from major structural and system failures.
We visited a leading international consulting firm, Intercontinental Consultants & Technocrats, on Friday, and met with its president and several officers. ICT’s core strength is specializing in infrastructure with a focus on sustainable development. They expressed interest in working with ASCE to train and find qualified civil engineers, a challenge in India as I touched on in my last blog. ICT is eager to find companies within and outside the U.S. to engage in a young engineers exchange program. They briefed us on the regional International Road Federation conference that they are actively involved in, to be held in Delhi from Oct. 3 to 5.
On Saturday morning we met with the president and the secretary general of the Institution of Engineers, India, which represents 1.4 million engineers across 15 engineering disciplines. They encouraged ASCE to meet with their civil engineering board that meets quarterly in Kolkata, and extended an invitation to participate in their next Indian Engineering Conference, to be held in Delhi from Dec. 20 to 22, an event of such magnitude that the president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, is scheduled to attend.
Then it was on to our visit with our India Section. In a special meeting attended by representatives of all four Regions, I had the honor of administering the oath of office to the members of the Section and the new, recently elected Regional leadership. Pat and I conducted presentations on our sustainability and infrastructure initiatives, and on taking a leadership role in public policy. We discussed ideas about how to enhance the value to existing and potential members of being a member of ASCE and the India Section.
We wrapped up the day by discussing the development of ASCE’s global strategy and how the Section could work to help the Society accomplish its goals. For its part, Section leaders told us they would like ASCE’s assistance in developing programs that will draw technical experts to India to improve their knowledge and skills. I’m impressed by the strength and commitment of our India Section, with a dedicated leadership that seeks closer ties to our domestic programs.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share details about the next meetings and activities on our itinerary. I welcome any questions about the places I’ve been or where I’m going – please share them below.