Youth Movement Shows Up in Force at ASCE Convention

October 23, 2015
Asheque Rahman, A.M.ASCE, a Younger Member from New York, speaks at the ASCE 2015 Convention. Rahman is a member of the ASCE Committee on Pre-College Outreach, helping reach out to high school students interested in civil engineering. PHOTO: David Hathcox for ASCE

Attendees of the ASCE 2015 Convention in New York City couldn’t miss the youth movement.

Whether it was a business card contest encouraging young engineers to get their names into the hands of potential employers, an active ASCE social media wall displaying items from Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #ASCE2015, or the lines of eager attendees waiting after sessions to talk further with presenters, the Convention clearly was important to the many Student Members and Younger Members who traveled to New York from around the world.

“Being here in New York is a big excitement – first time here. It’s a great place to start my Convention experience,” said Mais Sagradyan, S.M.ASCE, one of five students from ASCE’s California State University–Long Beach Chapter to make the trip. “We were walking around last night trying to find some dinner and then out of nowhere we just walk into the Flatiron Building. Things keep popping up in front of you. All in one day we saw the Stock Exchange, Wall Street, the charging bull, the Flatiron, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Little Italy.”

Cal-Long Beach students Mais Sagradyan and Lauren Kilroy enjoy the New York City atmosphere during their Convention trip. Photo courtesy Mais Sagradyan

Cal-Long Beach students Mais Sagradyan and Lauren Kilroy enjoy the New York City atmosphere during their Convention trip. Photo courtesy Mais Sagradyan

Sagradyan joined fellow Long Beach students Lauren Kilroy, S.M.ASCE, and Danny Mejia, S.M.ASCE, plus other attendees who started Convention Week with the ASCE service project at the Central Queens Academy, an event headed by Metropolitan Section Younger Members Jason Stern, P.E., M.ASCE, and Peter Mancuso, P.E., M.ASCE.

“Right here you can see this is the first networking experience most of these people will have here at the Convention,” said Mancuso, a professional engineer in Manhattan who often organizes social events for the Metropolitan Section’s Younger Member Forum. “It’s nice to be a part of that.”

Networking is a huge part of the Convention for every attendee, but it’s especially important for the younger engineers who are just starting to draw their career arcs.

“It’s been really interesting and inspiring to be around so many people of a like mind,” said Kimberly Lo, A.M.ASCE, who graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University five years ago and now works for an engineering contractor in New York. “Civil engineering in general is so broad a field that it’s good to kind of step out of what you do on a day-to-day basis and interact with other people in similar but different fields to get new ideas and new inspirations and new motivations.”

Many of the students attended a networking dinner in a Manhattan rooftop bar during the Convention. For others, they were representing their school’s Student Chapters as much as attending the Convention for their own advancement.

“Our goal coming here is to bring back the information regarding what ASCE as a whole is doing nationally,” said McKenzie Berg, S.M.ASCE, a student at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville. “We’re going to all these different technical sessions they have so we can learn about our infrastructure and other people’s points of view on it, to help shape our career paths and then bring it back to the other students at school to help them the same way.”  

Purdue University’s ASCE Student Chapter sent five officers to the Convention.

“You can really see the breadth of what you can do in civil engineering,” said Purdue student Katherine Schmotzer, S.M.ASCE. “We went to talk with Boeing, so you can work in the airline industry. You can work in heavy civil, you can work in structural engineering, construction. Going to these conferences and seeing the different opportunities that people with a civil engineering degree get really opens your eyes to the whole industry.”

Youth Movement WEB HORIZ

Members of the University of Southern California ASCE Chapter enjoy the Convention. PHOTO: David Hathcox for ASCE

For the Society, the presence of so much young energy at the Convention was a welcome sight, particularly as talk of new approaches and innovative engineering dominated the week.

“I think the disruptive innovation process that’s been the behind-the-scenes theme of the whole Convention this year is really groundbreaking and has been exciting,” said Purdue student Shannon Gunn, S.M.ASCE, “with the talks from Google, from Disney, and from others – to see what they’re working on that’s groundbreaking in the civil engineering industry.

“[The] opening talk – Luke Williams – was a really exciting talk and really opened up the entire Convention, and I think made everyone get on the same page for how it was going to go. For us, we’re young, so it’s exciting to see all of the new, innovative things we can do.”

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