All posts by Elise Takebayashi

Guest Speaker Meeting: Ryan Anderson

On February 20th Trojan alumni Ryan Anderson presented on the San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 Expansion. As a structural engineer for John A. Martin Associates, Mr. Anderson explained some of the challenges he faced with this 1.4 million square foot project.

His firm was responsible for the structural design of the terminal, so he shared with us some of the considerations they had with the design. For example, the existing structure is not within current structural building codes, so his firm designed the expansion in such a way that major renovations of the existing building were not necessary. The airport was in full operation the entire time, and the aesthetics of the expansion needed to match the existing building.

Overall, the project was a design-build success due to the extensive coordination between the structural engineers, architects, and construction managers. ASCE students enjoyed Chick-fil-A and refreshments during this presentation.

2013 ASCE National Conference Photos

All of our photos from the 2013 ASCE National Conference in Charolatte, North Carolina. More details here.

What is ASCE Outside of a College Organization?

USC ASCE is a student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.  Even though it seems like we do a lot, there’s so much more going on!  We’ve briefly discussed the way ASCE operates outside of the college level, but here’s a comprehensive summary:

ASCE logo

Despite its name,  ASCE is a global organization, with over 140,000 members!  ASCE is broken up by geography and age group, and there are 8 different Institutes that host technical committees in different areas of emphasis within the civil engineering profession.  Because ASCE is such a large organization, membership provides valuable networking opportunities and support from others in the civil/environmental engineering profession. Conferences, meetings, and competitions happen at different levels across the society.  The USC chapter sends students to events ranging from the college level all the way up to the national level.

Regions, Sections, and Branches

ASCE Region 9 - California
ASCE Region 9 – California

Geographically, there are 10 regions of ASCE worldwide.  Regions 1-9 are in the United States, and Region 10 includes the rest of the world.  At USC, we are in Region 9, which is the entire state of California!  Region 9 is the only region that consists of only one state!

ASCE Los Angeles Section and Branches
ASCE Los Angeles Section and Branches

Each region is broken down into sections.  Region 9 is divided into 4 sections – Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego Sections.  USC is located in the Los Angeles Section, which is celebrating its 100th year anniversary this year, 2013!  LA Section is also the 2nd largest section in ASCE with about 8,000 members!  (The largest is Texas Section, which is the entire state of Texas!)

In the Los Angeles Section, there are 7 branches.  This is where it gets a little confusing, because we belong to the Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch (MLAB). At this Branch level, ASCE splits up according to age group.  ASCE members that are age 35 and younger  belong to the MLAB Younger Members Forum (MLAB YMF).  Not every branch has a younger members group, but our MLAB younger members are pretty active, so if you stay in the LA area, you can definitely continue to be active in ASCE after graduation from USC!  There are also 5 student chapters withing MLAB — CSULA, CSUN, LMU, UCLA, and USC.   We’ll be doing a few events with MLAB YMF, such as resume workshops or community service, because they are so enthusiastic and provide great role models for us college students.


The 2013 Concrete Canoe Team poses with their USC-themed canoe, SC Traveler, after successfully finishing all five races at PSWC 2013.

As you probably know, colleges have ASCE competitions on a regional level.  Our competition is called the Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC).  This Pacific Southwest region does not fall within any of the above-mentioned regional breakdowns of ASCE.  There are 18 colleges that participate in PSWC, hailing from Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii.  The winners of the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge competitions go on to compete in the national competitions.

ASCE Membership and its Benefits


To make the most out of ASCE, in addition to becoming a member of the USC ASCE chapter, sign up to become a national ASCE member! National membership is FREE while you are a student and for the following 6 months, and from there, the dues increase slowly as you advance from Student Membership to Associate Membership. Once you earn your Professional Engineer License, you can advance your Associate Membership to full Membership.  If you leave a big enough mark on the civil engineering field, you could get advanced to Fellow Membership.  This is a prestigious honor held by less than 4% of members in ASCE.

To recap, as USC students, we belong to:

Region 9 (California), Los Angeles Section, and Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch

If you are planning to work in a different part of the country (or world), consider looking up the ASCE Region, Section, and/or Branch (if applicable) where you plan to work and connecting with them.  Mentioning ASCE membership to professionals in your area may open up some doors for you towards a future internship or career!

For more information about ASCE, visit

On Environmental Engineering

I recently received an email from an incoming student regarding a common question and felt that since so many people ask this, it would be good to share a response:

How closely linked are civil and environmental engineering? I am much more interested in environmental. Do the two overlap very much?

Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in this article in no way reflect the views of the university, civil/environmental engineering department, or ASCE.  They are one person’s opinions based on one life experience.


In my experience, you only share a couple of classes with civil engineering (CE) (general track) majors, like statics, fluid mechanics, risk analysis, etc.  Those are kind of “core” engineering classes anyway, but each engineering department has its own version of the class.  You will share the most classes with CE (environmental emphasis) majors, and barely any with CE (structural/building science) majors.  As an environmental engineering major (ENE), you will not have to take classes in dynamics, materials, transportation, concrete, or steel.  However, you will take much more biology and chemistry than CE majors.  The heart of ENE lies in water and wastewater treatment, with some air pollution and solid waste management.

This summer, I am interning at a civil engineering consulting firm in Hawaii.  In Hawaii, most of the “environmental engineering” jobs are covered by civil firms because there isn’t enough environmental engineering work to warrant entire companies that only focus on that.  As a result, I learned many transportation, construction, and project management concepts on my own because I didn’t take those classes in school. I’m still figuring things out, but it seems to me that unless you’re interested in research, a lot of the chemistry and biology might not be used too often in design.

All in all, it just depends on what you want to do.  I think that if I had known the relationship between college classes and the work situation before I started, I might have chosen a different major.  I love taking the classes in the ENE major, but if I had known I wanted to return to Hawaii after graduating, I might have chosen to major in civil engineering with an environmental emphasis, just so I had that broader background.  I know there are definitely environmental engineering firms out there, so it just depends on where you want to end up.  Just keep in mind that many “environmental engineering” jobs are hidden within civil engineering firms.  Other schools don’t even offer ENE as a separate major from CE, so some companies might think that the ENE degree limits your knowledge in areas besides water and wastewater treatment.

Bottom line: If you’re really passionate about the classes in the ENE major, then stick with it. Just don’t close yourself off entirely to civil engineering as a whole because your career may be more related to that.

2013 Little Buddy Applications Are Out!

With just a little less than 4 weeks before classes start, we are starting to think about school again!  We would like to welcome our incoming freshmen and transfer students to the Sonny Astani Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering with our Big Buddy Program! Program details are available on our Big Buddies page. In brief, the program matches incoming students with upperclassmen to provide new students with a mentor-like resource that they can utilize as much as desired.

Apply to be a Little Buddy here!
Email us at if you are interested in becoming a Big Buddy!

We hope you enjoy your last few weeks of summer and look forward to seeing you all soon!  For more updates, keep reading our blog and like our Facebook page!

Environmental Design Team starts designing!

Env Team - 2-6-13 (2)

Seems like we’ll have to get our hands dirty eventually, but for now, we can start our design from the classroom.  First step was to determine where the wastewater should flow.  Team Co-Captain Elise writes out the announcements before explaining how to determine the expected flows based on the given data for population, acreage, and land usage.  From the theoretical calculations, we will construct our model to accommodate the flows proportionally.

Env Team - 2-6-13


While a few people work out the appropriate manhole locations, the t-shirt committee discusses possible ideas for the best Environmental Design T-Shirt yet!

First Environmental Design Team Meeting!

First Environmental Design Team Meeting
First Environmental Design Team Meeting

Environmental team started off the semester by going over the rules and meeting new people!  This year’s competition is very different from past years.  Instead of treating water by designing a filter, we will have to design an entire  wastewater collection system for a small community.

Looking forward to a great team this year!