The ASCE Dallas Branch was given the opportunity to host the 2019 Multi-Region Leadership Conference (MRLC) and show some Texas-style hospitality to ASCE Regions 3, 6, & 7. The Dallas Branch was awarded the honor of hosting after former Dallas Branch Younger Member Chair, and current Fundraising Chair, Farwa Sultan PE gave a winning presentation at the 2017 MRLC in Minneapolis, MN. All in all, the Dallas Branch hosted over 300 ASCE members including 200 student members from universities all over the middle third of the United States. The MRLC events kicked off on Thursday, February 7th and went through the afternoon of Saturday, February 9th. The Dallas Branch was able to showcase many of its wonderful professional, technical, and outreach programs, and many of our Branch leaders left inspired by the lessons we learned from other ASCE members. The MRLC itself included three separate conference tracks: the Workshop for Student Chapter Leaders (WSCL), the Central Region Younger Member Council (CRYMC), and the Workshop for Section, Branch, and Institute Leaders (WSBIL).
Pre-College Outreach Event with ASCE Dallas Civil Engineering Clubs
The MRLC weekend kicked off on Thursday afternoon at the offices of Kimley-Horn where ASCE Dallas teamed up with staff from ASCE Pre-College Outreach to host a pre-conference outreach event centered around the ASCE Dallas Civil Engineering Club Program. Jeannine Finton of ASCE Pre-College Outreach began the session with a presentation on STEM and STEM engagement for professionals. The group was then asked to discuss what should be most important when talking to students about civil engineering. Ultimately, it was determined that “FUN” should be at the center of every student interaction about civil engineering. One quote that stood out in particular to the session attendees was the following: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Getting students involved and active in an outreach event is extremely important to making sure they understand and have fun!
Next, about 20 students from Woodrow Wilson and Hillcrest arrived to participate in a group activity. The high school students and ASCE members were split into five teams for a LEGO construction activity. Some of the students from Woodrow Wilson HS explained the activity.
- Each team gets a set of LEGOs and a set of photos of a completed LEGO building (not the same one they have the pieces for)
- Each team has to then communicate using ONLY PAPER to the other team with the LEGO pieces to their building how to build the completed LEGO building they have pictures of
This activity promoted teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills while also providing a practical illustration to the students of what it’s like to construct a civil engineering project. Photos from the event can be found online here.
Young members had plenty to learn not only about how to become a better leader within the industry, but also about how other young professionals from around the Regions, 3, 6, and 7 deal with concerns about promoting ASCE benefits and opportunities within younger demographics. Engagement sessions such as “The Future is in Our Hands”, “CYM Roundtable Sessions”, and “Best Practices: Solving Student Transition, Section and Branch Recruitment & Growth via Social Media,” and Outreach “Project Build”, offered a means for discussing topics such as fundraising, professional development, outreach opportunities, social media and marketing, social event organization, member recruitment, and retention of younger members in ASCE. Networking breaks allowed for conversations and friendships to build amongst attendees, and it would not be a Leadership Conference without service opportunities for the Dallas Branch.
Many universities in the ASCE Central Regions 3, 6, and 7 gathered to discuss similar issues experienced by being student chapter leaders and how they could learn from each other. Students from states such as Michigan and North/South Dakotas braved the cold and snow and found a way to drive or fly to Dallas for a very old weekend. Overall, it sounded like fundraising and attracting and retaining members were the biggest issues faced by the student chapter leaders. It turns out that there are student chapters who don’t get any funding from local professional chapters, and have to raise their own money for all meetings and trips! The local chapters, Southern Methodist University (SMU) and University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) were represented and their advisors who participated in an Advisor panel where they discussed the removal of Steel Bridge as a student competition through ASCE, and the future student competitions to look forward to. Thank you to Jennifer Smith PE, the ASCE Dallas Branch SMU Advisor for attending the WSCL!
The Workshop for Section, Branch, and Institute Leaders kicked-off with a fun and interactive session pertaining to “ASCE Geographic Services”; where representatives described the organization’s reach and goals for various regions. Attendees were asked to get out of their chairs and coordinate with one another to line-up around the room in order of who had been born the farthest distance from Dallas, TX; creating a great networking opportunity and a chance for everyone to introduce themselves aloud. The presentation session on “How to Embrace Change” was a great look at how groups such as ASCE, agencies, and companies can either succeed or fail when it comes to pivoting and adapting to the demands of different generational expectations and technological advancements. Attendees were asked to pair-off and participate in an exercise where one would turn around, wait 60 seconds, then look at their counterpart to try and list the things that the individual quickly changed about their appearance for a fun take on noticing the effects of change. Other sessions included “Dealing with Difficult People”, “Communication Styles in the Workplace”, and various breakout sessions all with great icebreaker activities and informative techniques on how to improve and advance as leaders of our groups. Patrick Williams PE and Mark Boyd, PhD, PE represented the ASCE Dallas Branch at the WSBIL.
Following the Pre-College Outreach Event, the ASCE Dallas Branch had a fun night of bowling planned at Bowl & Barrel. Close to 25 ASCE Student Chapter Leaders, Younger Members, and Section, Branch, and Institute Leaders attended the event for some great fun and friendly competition. This was a great opportunity for everyone to catch up with friends, meet and interact with each other, enjoy some great food and get excited for conference. This social also gave an opportunity to catch up for members who had met previously at either Omaha in 2018, or Minnesota in 2017. Attending the MRLC is a great way to meet those outside our metroplex and get the chance to make connection and learn, not just from our peers but from our organization’s leaders as well as train the future of this great profession. Putting a social such as this one gets those attendees one step closer to making those long-term relationships locally, as well as within the central region.
CRYMC Awards Banquet
After the conference proceeding on Friday, the Dallas Branch was pleased to host the CRYMC awards banquet. We had a wonderful and fun evening of fellowship, fun, music, dancing, and learning at the Sixth Floor Museum. Five awards were presented to three very deserving individuals and one group. The awards were as follows:
- Outstanding Younger Member in the Private Sector: Austin Brauel, PE, ENV SP (Houston Branch)
- Outstanding Younger Member in the Public Sector: Peyton Jane Gibson, EIT
- Outstanding Practitioner Advisor: Peyton Jane Gibson, EIT
- Outstanding Younger Member in Community Activities: Jennifer L. Smith, PE (Dallas Branch)
- Outstanding Younger Member Group Project: ASCE Dallas CE Club
Photos available online here: https://dallasasce.org/gallery.php?id=119
To cap off the 2019 MRLC weekend the ASCE Dallas Branch hosted a post conference event at the ice-skating rink inside the Galleria. Close to 20 ASCE Student Chapter Leaders, Younger Members, and Section, Branch, and Institute Leaders, including ASCE President Robin Kemper PE, attended the event. Overall the event was a success with no one sustaining any injuries and everyone having a good time. This event allowed for those in attendance to network and build relationships even after the conference concluded. Plus, we got to show that we do have winter sports in Texas.
Awards Received by ASCE Dallas
The ASCE Dallas Branch and its members won a total of four awards at the MRLC. On Friday night at the CRYMC Awards Banquet, The Outstanding Younger Member in Community Activities was awarded to Jennifer Smith PE, ASCE Dallas Branch Director. The Outstanding Younger Member Group Project was presented to the Civil Engineering Club Program that the Dallas Branch hosts at Woodrow Wilson and Hillcrest High Schools. This award was received by Jonathan Brower PE, ASCE Dallas Vice-President, for his work in starting CE Club program and expanding it to another school over the years.
At the last conference session of MRLC the National Section and Branch Awards were given out. Dallas Branch won the Outstanding Large Branch or Section for the second year in a row. This award was for all of the activities and events in the 2017-2018 year under the leadership of ASCE Dallas Past-President Mark Boyd, PhD, PE. Dallas Branch also won the History & Heritage Citation for the Texas Section Centennial Plaque dedication at the Old Red Courthouse, the location of the founding of the organization that would become the ASCE Texas Section. This award was received by Mark Boyd and Sean Merrell PE for their work on this dedication.
DISD Bridge Building Kits
Thanks to a grant from ASCE Region 6, the Dallas Branch was able to enlist the help of the CRYMC to build kits for the bridge building competition that is held within Dallas ISD annually. The YMs were given an overview of the DISD partnership with ASCE Dallas and the competition by the form ASCE Dallas DISD Champion, Jennifer Smith PE. They were then grouped into six teams to split up the materials and build the kits. All kits contained a 5-gallon bucket to place weights in, both a 2.5-lb and 5-lb weight, and a S-hook to connect the bridge to the weights for load testing. The elementary school kits also contained 250 craft sticks, glue, 4 kids safety glasses, and 1 tape measure. The secondary school kits also contained 4 adult safety glasses and 1 tape measure. There were 40 elementary kits and 30 secondary kits built and over $1500 worth of materials donated to DISD.
***Special thank you to Jonathan Brower PE for providing this article