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.