At its October meeting, the ASCE Board of Direction dealt with a variety of issues central to the civil engineering profession and ASCE members – how civil engineers should be educated, how the Society can best advance civil engineering technology, what role technologist credentialing might play within the engineering team, what issues ASCE should advance in state public policy efforts, and how ASCE should shape its global strategy, among others.
Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 8-9, the Board spent part of its time engaged in an overview discussion with the Committee on Education (COE), which is charged with looking at the education of a civil engineer from pre-K through graduate studies. COE Chair Norman D. Dennis Jr., Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, highlighted activities in accreditation, faculty development, precollege outreach, and the Civil Engineering Department Heads Conference, which was held in June this year.
Three important engineering education topics emerged in the dialogue: how can COE ensure funding for ExCEEd Teaching Workshops, which receive high marks for their intense, hands-on training of university faculty on how best to teach their engineering students; what is the Board’s vision for ASCE participation in the implementation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education standards at the precollege level; and the extent to which COE should reach out to other organizations to partner in engineering education.
The release earlier this year of the Next Generation Science Standards has added focus and clarity on what the science and engineering education standards are going to be that are taught in schools for the next 20 to 30 years. While the Board clearly supports efforts to improve STEM education, the question COE raised was whether ASCE should become a national leader in this effort, which would require a commitment of resources and volunteers. Following the discussion, COE recommended to the Board that the committee define the question more sharply and come back next year with 4 or 5 different levels of possible STEM involvement, including the resources required, so the Board can then make a decision.
ASCE’s Committee on Technical Advancement (CTA) oversees a variety of councils, committees, and divisions that delve into a broad array of technical areas. ASCE President-Elect Robert D. Stevens, Ph.D., P.E., AICP, F.ASCE, who is the outgoing CTA chair, reported to the Board on how CTA has produced 8 journals and 3 conferences – Pipelines, Cold Regions, and Forensics – combining for $980,000 in gross revenue that is invested in these and other programs to advance technical knowledge and the profession.
Among the emerging or existing technical areas requiring greater emphasis and input from the Board was the need to increase the understanding and knowledge of risk in the development of design criteria as they relate to the evaluation of design options in project delivery. Another was the movement by surveyor groups in some states to limit what surveying may be performed by PEs. Stevens concluded by stating that CTA’s 3 areas of focus in the coming year are growth, greater collaboration among technical entities of ASCE, and improved organizational efficiency.
In delivering its final report to the Board, the Task Committee on Technologist Credentialing raised the question of whether ASCE’s credentialing of civil engineering technologists would be feasible and a benefit the profession. As defined in ASCE Position Statement 535 and 433, a technologist is a “person who exerts a high level of judgment in performance of engineering work, while working under the direct control and personal supervision of a CE professional…. A person working as a CE Technologist can comprehend and apply knowledge of engineering principals in the solution of broadly defined problems.” The task committee estimates that about 2,000 technologists graduate every year.
Currently, credentialing opportunities for technologists are limited, and the Task Committee believes that ASCE should consider providing some sort of credential as well as work with the technologists in terms of developing the continuing education that they need. After weighing the opportunities, the Board voted to form a new committee that will work under the Committee on Advancing the Profession. The new committee will be charged with looking more closely at a possible certificate program – the potential market and usefulness, the costs involved, and how it might best be structured.
The Board recognized that technologists are eligible to join ASCE at what is now the Associate Member level.
ASCE Federal, State Priority Issues
On the basis of an ASCE member interests survey, the Board approved the Federal and State Priority Issues that the Society will focus on in fiscal year 2014. On the federal side, the issues are clean water, drinking water, and wastewater issues; natural hazards mitigation and infrastructure security; qualifications-based selection for engineering services; STEM education; sustainable development and sustainable energy use; transportation infrastructure; and water resources infrastructure. At the state level the issues are continuing education, licensing, qualifications-based selection for engineering services, STEM education, sustainability, and transportation infrastructure financing.
Postdisaster Reconstruction, Resilient Water Resources
The Board approved 2 new policy statements, one on Post-Disaster Reconstruction of Infrastructure and another on Resilient Water Resources Projects.
Areas affected by natural disaster events encounter recovery challenges, and ASCE supports the sustainable and resilient reconstruction of affected areas devastated by accidental, intentional, or natural disaster events. To achieve this, the postdisaster policy statement supports “the redesign and reconstruction of disaster protection systems for affected communities at a level appropriate for protection of the population, critical infrastructure, and the environment; and the reconstruction that incorporates appropriate studies, urban design, application of technology, land use, zoning, and utilization of natural systems to recreate communities that are resilient, sustainable, more livable, and less vulnerable to accidental, intentional, and/or natural disaster events.”
One of ASCE’s objectives is to support the creation of resilient water resources infrastructure, which requires a systems approach that incorporates all available stakeholders, tools, and resources. The resilient water resources policy statement “urges federal, state, and local governments and private enterprises to adopt systems approaches for planning, designing, constructing, financing, maintaining, and operating the nation’s water resources infrastructure. This approach requires life-cycle considerations, includes all tools and entities within the solution, and requires cooperation on legislative and regulatory affairs across all levels of government. Further research is needed on alternative evaluation tools to complement current financial models.”
ASCE Global Strategy
The Board heard from ASCE Global Strategy Task Committee Chair Fredric S. Berger, P.E., F.ASCE, on the latest perspectives on how ASCE might move forward in serving the profession in the global arena. Accepting the task committee’s recommendation, the Board created a new Global Strategy Council Task Committee to take the baton in continuing to develop a global strategy for the Society.
The new council, which is expected to serve for 1 year, was charged with scanning the activities of other associations for new ideas and opportunities; sharing global experiences within the 2013 Global Strategy with all stakeholders; and screening for new ideas, initiatives, and opportunities not found in the 2013 Globalization Strategy, among other duties. One goal is to organize a review in 5 years so that the Board can consider what form a 2018 Global Strategy might take.