Giving Thanks: A Global Phenomenon, an American Tradition

November 4, 2015
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ASCE Executive Director Tom Smith

Thanksgiving in the United States is the day most of us like to be around family and friends, eat mounds of turkey and stuffing, watch (American) football, and take time to reflect on the things in our lives for which we are grateful. As Americans, we have many reasons to be thankful. Yet, millions of people both here and around the world lack basic human needs, including clean water, adequate nutrition, and safe housing.

This brings me to my topic this month: the spirit of giving.

Though the holiday season is a time when many offer donations of cash or goods to others in need, often the most valuable donation a professional can make is their time and professional expertise. The concept of donating professional services through pro bono publico (“for the public good”) work is well established in the legal profession. According to Rule 6.1 of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct: “Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year.” Some states have mandatory pro bono reporting requirements for attorneys, while others have voluntary reporting provisions. Regardless of state reporting requirements, pro bono legal work is a frequent topic of conversation and an expectation of practicing lawyers.

While engineers don’t have a formal mandate to give back to the community through pro bono work, we can still make a difference in people’s lives. At ASCE, we founded an alliance, the Community Engineering (CE) Corps, in partnership with the American Water Works Association and Engineers Without Borders USA. ASCE has a longstanding affiliation with EWB-USA, which focuses its efforts outside the United States, and the new CE Corps addresses the infrastructure needs of underserved communities in the United States by tapping into the expertise of the three founding organizations. One of CE Corps’ most recent projects, adopted by ASCE’s Alaska Section, created the design and pulled permits for a much-needed playground at the Salvation Army’s McKinnell House, a shelter in Anchorage, AK.

Skilled engineering services are essential, but beyond the reach of many. So if you or your firm is seeking ways to give back to the community during the holiday season or throughout the year, why not volunteer your services through the Community Engineering Corps and put a smile on someone’s face.

TomSigBlue

 

 

In case you missed it, here are some other exciting opportunities around the ASCE community:

The ASCE Grand Challenge is a call to action for ASCE and the profession to increase the value and capacity of infrastructure and optimize infrastructure investments. To achieve the Grand Challenge, we must advocate and influence major legislative, regulatory, and policy changes, and increased infrastructure funding. At the same time, we must lead the significant improvement in the delivery of infrastructure investments through innovation, performance-based standards, life-cycle cost analysis, and enhanced resiliency.

To that end, ASCE’s Industry Leaders Council has launched the ASCE Innovation Contest, calling on professionals, educators, and students to share their best ideas for transforming the future of our nation’s infrastructure. Three winners each in four topic areas will be selected. Explore the topic areas and rewards for winning, get questions answered, and enter the contest.

Dream Big: Engineering Wonders of the World, a MacGillivray Freeman Films Production in partnership with ASCE and presented by Bechtel, will display many of the amazing contributions to the world by engineers who dreamed big. The film is scheduled for release in February of 2017 in IMAX and other giant-screen theatres.

The ASCE Dream Big Contest celebrates the new film and the dreams that drive civil engineers around the world every day. Tell ASCE how you have dreamed big and you could win one of three Dream Big prize packages, choosing from trips or even a Dream Big movie premiere in your town. What career dream have you realized? What dream do you aspire to? How has engineering helped you achieve a personal dream? Dream big and enter the contest.

Could you or a young engineer you know be one of ASCE’s New Faces? ASCE and DiscoverE are seeking up-and-coming engineering leaders whose early successes in college and as young pros point to careers of great achievement. Ten young professionals and 10 undergraduate students will be selected as ASCE’s 2016 New Faces of Civil Engineering–Professional and College editions. Honorees will gain exposure in ASCE print and digital media, plus recognition at Society events. From among the top three honorees in each edition, DiscoverE will select its civil engineer designates for its overall 2016 New Faces of Engineering–Professional and College awards. Apply today.

ASCE’s On-Demand Webinar Packages give members the chance to build skills and earn PDHs from the comfort of their own homes. View all package options.

The 2015 Member Referral Drive is on, which means potential prizes for those who renew their membership early. Renew now and you’ll still get in on the deadlines for $100 gift cards – plus, everyone who renews by Dec. 14 will also be entered into a grand prize draw of a $1,000 Amazon gift card. So the earlier you renew, the more chances you have to win. Renew online today.

ASCE and DiscoverE are seeking up-and-coming engineering leaders whose early successes in college and as young pros point to careers of great achievement. Ten young professionals and 10 undergraduate students will be selected as ASCE’s 2016 New Faces of Civil Engineering–Professional and College editions. Honorees will gain exposure in ASCE print and digital media, plus recognition at Society events. From among the top three honorees in each edition, DiscoverE will select its civil engineer designates for its overall 2016 New Faces of Engineering–Professional and College awards. Apply today.

The latest edition of the Member Resource Guides is available now – in both print and digital-download formats. Members know the guides as a quick, convenient way to grow their careers and stay connected with all things ASCE. For the first time, there are special editions for International and Student members. You should have received your copy in the mail along with the September issue of Civil Engineering magazine. This year your Member Resource Guides can also be downloaded free as digital copies for added convenience.

The Engineering Competency Model is an “important resource” that will “help prepare engineers to function effectively in a rapidly changing world,” writes engineering leadership consultant and ASCE Distinguished Member Stu Walesh. The model, recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor after nearly two years in the works, establishes core skills for entering the profession and for maintaining midcareer proficiency. Get to know the five-tiered model and its benefits as explained by Walesh, ASCE’s official consultant to the project.

Approaching new infrastructure projects with resilience in mind is crucial, now more than ever. But what makes for a resilient community? How do civil engineers incorporate resiliency concepts into their work? And why is it important? A new ASCE video explores these questions and more.

The Utility Engineering and Surveying Institute was recently launched. ASCE’s ninth specialty Institute will serve civil engineers and other professionals in pipelines, geomatics, utilities, and surveying. Learn more about UESI and its launch; or read the Institute’s mission and join UESI.

ASCE’s Public Agency Peer-Review Service will give you a fresh perspective on what’s working and what’s not in your government agency, and how to make improvements with the advice you’ll get from them. Volunteer peer reviewers, including experienced public agency leaders, provide a confidential, customized evaluation, including insights into how other organizations have addressed similar challenges. Write to professional@asce.org with any questions. Explore the program.

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