Meet Christopher J. Nance, PE, M.ASCE, ENV SP
The ASCE Texas Section Board of Direction members were asked to fill out a questionnaire so that the Section’s members might get to know them a little better on a personal level. These are Christopher J. Nance, P.E., M.ASCE, ENV SP’s answers.
Christopher J. Nance, PE, M.ASCE, ENV SP is an Associate and Project Engineer for Parkhill’s Water Resources Sector. Since joining Parkhill in 2004, he has focused on hydraulic analysis, master planning, and wastewater treatment for small communities. He has developed expertise in GIS, asset management, CIP development, and water distribution and wastewater modeling. Chris is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and New Mexico and is an Envision Sustainable Professional.
Chris has served as Treasurer of the ASCE Texas Section since 2020 and will become Vice President Technical Elect in September 2022. He is a Past President of the ASCE El Paso Branch and served on its board from 2011 to 2020. During that time, he served as Branch co-chair for the 2016 ASCE Texas-Mexico Student Symposium and as a judge in the 2013 Steel Bridge Regional Competition. In 2013, he was recognized by the ASCE El Paso Branch and named Young Civil Engineer of the Year. During 2019’s E-Week, Chris was recognized by ASCE as an outstanding volunteer for ASCE’s Region 6.
Chris completed the El Paso Chamber’s Leadership El Paso program in 2018 and Parkhill’s Leadership Academy in 2014. An El Paso native, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated in 2003. He’s married to Heidi, a Campus Reading Coach at MacArthur PK-8 in El Paso, and father to Sophia, a freshman civil engineering major at Rice University, and Jack, a freshman snare player at El Paso High.
What is your favorite thing about ASCE?
Our Students and Younger Members. I am consistently blown away with Student Chapters that, despite having near 100% turnover every four years, can manage to do so much. Those passionate students become our Younger Members who are absolutely incredible. I think ASCE’s breadth is precisely what makes such a great organization for students and people just starting their careers.
Also, the IRC is amazing. I can’t really think of anything comparable that is effectively communicating the need for investments in infrastructure to the general public.
How has ASCE helped you in your career?
Particularly, being an ASCE officer has given me many opportunities where I was on equal footing with much more experienced people in the industry. The hierarchies of experience don’t always apply to how we best serve our members, so it’s great to solve things with a diverse group. It has also given me opportunities to come up with solutions and implement them earlier than I would have been able to in a professional setting. It’s also helped me build and maintain relationships outside of my immediate work relationships.
What do you love the most about being a civil engineer?
The stakes. The issues we are trying to solve can absolutely transform our societies for the better or lock us into inefficient and wasteful systems for the next 50 to 100 years. I can’t think of many other professions that have that much at stake. It’s humbling, but I love that I get to be a part of something that big. It’s also absolutely terrifying.
What is the biggest challenge civil engineers face today?
I think the risks of infrastructure failure are probably our biggest challenge. Both the National and State IRC do a great job of trying to quantify this, but can really only cover the known knowns, and the known unknowns. My gut feeling is there are a lot of unknown unknowns that we can’t really account for, and we’ll only see in hindsight. Because our infrastructure is so interdependent, when we see the impacts of actual infrastructure failures, they become exponential very quickly.
Give us your best 2-3 sentence piece of advice for the next generation of civil engineers
Learn the Dunning-Kruger Effect and be wary of very confident people. And read a lot.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I think my kids would say I’m sorta cracked at Minecraft. Also, collecting photos of manhole covers while traveling and karaoke.
What was your high school nickname?
Mountains or beach?
Mountains. Preferably with stars on them.
Give us your best (clean) joke
What is a pirate’s favorite letter?
[In a pirate voice]: Aye, ye think it be R, but ‘tis the C he loves.
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