Tag Archives: ASCE

Jay Higgins Visits USC ASCE

Last week, ASCE’s very own regional director came to speak to members of USC ASCE. Jay Higgins enlightened the group in the origins of ASCE, its current status as an organization, as well as future strategies and moves ASCE is making. ASCE, founded in New York City in 1850, currently has over 8,000 members in the LA area alone. ASCE’s vision and strategies for the future revolve around infrastructure, raising the bar of education, and sustainability. He believes the focus on these goals is extremely important leading up to the near future.


In regards to infrastructure, Higgins proposed movements toward a legislative committee that could focus on interactions between administration and members, allowing problems and opinions to be discuss throughout the entire organization. Raising the bar in education was another main point Higgins wanted ASCE to focus on. He mentioned the idea of making it required for engineers to receive their masters before being allowed to take the PE Exam. He referenced Law and Medical school for other professions, saying there should be a similar structure of education for Civil Engineers. He also focused on the idea of promoting leadership within civil engineering, as well as writing and management skills. In regards to sustainability, Higgins wanted to focus on three points: Environmental, Economics, and Social well being. Sustainability has a growing place in Civil Engineering, and while Civil Engineers should hold safety, health, and public welfare of the highest importance, they should also focus on sustainability within their professional endeavours.

In a more national and even global scale of infrastructure, Higgins stressed the importance of spending now in order to save later. People end up spending money to fix things affected by faulty infrastructure anyway, so why not just fix the infrastructure? Higgins proposes the need for government funding, as well as support from a variety of professions within civil engineering. He mentions that our priority should be on infrastructure and investing more money into it upfront in order to save money in the long run. Movements are, however, being made to prioritize our infrastructure, including grading systems, increased leadership in infrastructure renewal, promoting sustainability and resilience, and developing plans to maintain and enhance America’s infrastructure.

Higgins then mentioned new workings within ASCE, including the arise of new leaders within the alliance workshop, promoting CE for developing countries, providing engineering services for underserved communities in U.S., as well as new leaders with ASCE, such as Kathy Caldwell. He is also excited about a new film coming out, promoting Engineering and its developments.

In his concluding statements Higgins describes how he moved from water hazardous waste to construction management and ended up in construction claims consulting. He encourages students who haven’t yet found their spot within civil engineer to keep moving around until you find what sparks your passion.


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 http://www.asce.org.