Three ‘Water Cooler’ Sessions to Not Miss at ASCE 2016 Convention

July 29, 2016

It feels good to bring an educated opinion to those “water cooler” chats at work.

For many, it’s the time-honored ritual of Monday morning quarterbacking after the weekend’s football games. For others, it’s keeping up with the latest online craze.

Around civil engineering firms’ offices this fall, expect to hear “Guess what I learned at the ASCE 2016 Convention?”

Here are three sessions at the Convention sure to keep you and your colleagues buzzing come early October.


Guidance for Disaster-Resilient Community Planning

Last year’s convention in New York included a session explaining the then-new Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure, issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This year, the ASCE Infrastructure Resilience Division’s session will build on the NIST guidelines to show attendees how to put them into action.

“I think it’s going to give the members who attend a better understanding about the guidelines,” said Chris Poland, P.E., S.E., NAE, F.SEI, M.ASCE. “Hopefully, it’s going to strike a chord with folks and they think, ‘Jeez, I can do that home. That’s good. I like that.’”

The session will feature four presentations – including a look at how pilot communities are applying the guide, new guidance that is being develop to aid in implementation, opportunities to participate in the new Community Resilience Panel, and a preview of the tools being developed to aid in implementation.

“This is right at the heart of defining a framework and a process for determining what resilience means to the built environment,” Poland said. “I think the broader ASCE community needs to be exposed to the resilience conversation, as it specifically relates to the health of our built environment and infrastructure. This guide is one of the best tools to link resilient design with community resilience and what we need to do.”

ASCE/SEI 7: Updates to the 2016 Edition

ASCE/SEI 7 Minimum Design Loads and Associated Criteria for Buildings and Other Structures is an industry reference standard in U.S. building codes, and with ASCE 7-16 set to publish early next year, the Convention will offer a first-time look into some of the updates.

Of particular interest is an all-new chapter on tsunami loads and effects, the result of four-and-a-half years of work. Member of the 2016 Distinguished Member class Gary Chock, S.E., D.CE, F.SEI, will lead a session on how the Tsunami Loads and Effects Subcommittee developed the new design provisions.

Attendees will be able to pick the brains of a veritable “dream team,” as “all of the presenters were directly involved in developing the provisions,” Chock said. “So they have in-depth knowledge.”

A separate session will provide an overview of the updated provisions to be found throughout the 2016 edition of ASCE/SEI 7. The chair of the committee overseeing the revision, Ronald Hamburger, P.E., F.SEI, vice-chair James Soules, P.E., S.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE, P.Eng., and committee member Donald Scott, P.E., S.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE, will discuss the changes with a focus on its seismic and wind chapters.

How Clear Communication Leads to Engineering Success

Funny thing about the STEM professions: they require more than the specific science, technology, engineering, and math demands of the job.

Which is where the presentation from Lindsay Kammeier, EIT, A.M.ASCE, and Darcie Maffioli, P.E., M.ASCE, comes in, focusing on how to build solid professional relationships, difficult conversations and all.

“We work on teams. All the engineers I know work on teams,” Maffioli said. “It’s really important to have clear communication within your teams and with your clients, so that your teams have clear understanding of the design challenges and each other’s responsibilities.”

More on these and other concurrent sessions at the ASCE 2016 Convention can be found at the official website.

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