We’re ready for E-Week!
San Antonio Branch E-Week update
An interview with Branch leaders
By San Antonio Branch Section Director Amy Stone PE
The San Antonio Area did celebrate E-Week 2020; the final event occurring just weeks before lockdowns began. This article focuses on the preparation for a delayed and altered E-Week 2021 by comparing to the successful E-Week 2020.
When is E-Week 2021 currently scheduled?
May 4 – May 8, 2021
Ray Mendez PE is currently the Secretary of the Branch and has volunteered in many positions on the E-Week Committee, including chairing the committee and running the Golf Tournament.
Anna Leija is currently the President Elect of the Branch and is organizing the celebration banquet for the Engineer of the Year (EOY). She has served in several positions within ASCE San Antonio.
The San Antonio Branch works closely with the Bexar County chapter of TSPE to provide E-Week coordination and funds. This collaboration began approximately 15 years ago, with ASCE organizing and funding the EOY banquet and TSPE providing the chair of the E-Week committee and most of the volunteers. More recently, ASCE provides an E-Week Treasurer that handles money and runs the funds for the entire weeklong celebration through an account under ASCE’s name. We are required to be very careful with these funds and track them closely to maintain the 501c3 status.
E-Week 2020 did happen, just before the pandemic lockdowns began.
How many scholarships did E-Week 2020 fund and provide?
TSPE funded six. ASCE funded one. Overall, there were seven. Seven students from local high schools were provided with scholarships to attend college in Texas majoring in Engineering.
How many events were held during E-Week 2020?
There were nine events, spread evenly across the week. Briefly, those events are: a golf tournament, a 5k nerd run, a Texas hold’em tournament sponsored by SHPE, a skeet shooting event sponsored by SEAoT and SMPS, a mixer after the skeet shooting sponsored by SEAoT and SMPS, a Past Presidents lunch, a Proclamation Breakfast where the Young Engineer of the Year is publicized and celebrated, Engineer for a day, and Engineer of the Year Banquet sponsored by ASCE.
How long have you each been involved and how did you start?
Ray: I have been involved about nine years. I think I started with ASCE and TSPE about the same time. I just wanted to be a part of these societies, and when the opportunity arose to run the Golf Tournament, I took it.
Anna: I initially joined ASCE as a student member while attending Texas A&M University- Kingsville. After moving back to San Antonio, I began volunteering with ASCE Younger Members-San Antonio. While I was President of ASCE YM, I read about the release of the movie “Dream Big” and realized that San Antonio had no scheduled showings for the movie when it first debuted. I organized the first viewing of Dream Big as part of Engineers Week festivities, which turned out to be a great event that inspired many students. The following year, Dream Big was adopted into the Proclamation Breakfast, and is now shown after the Young Engineer of the Year award is presented.
How does the E-Week San Antonio committee work?
There are about 12 people on the Executive Committee. They represent SHPE, SEAoT, TSPE, SMPS, ASCE, and sometimes IEE or other organizations. Usually, a volunteer comes to the table from a new organization with a specific idea, so that idea slots right into the committee and the Week. The committee meets about once a month, and more frequently as the Week approaches. Each volunteer updates the larger committee and offers or takes help from the group as needed. There are specific rules for ASCE to be Treasurer of any event. A few events are run, monetarily, through their sponsor organization. It really works together; we are all striving for the same thing: a successful E-Week.
How much effort has gone into planning 2021?
Well, we started in July of 2020. We meet at least twice a month and generally more frequently, and as we get closer to the E-Week dates, we meet once a week. It has been cyclical and some of the hours have been do-overs and re-coordinating and endless alterations for pandemic reasons.
Ray: maybe about 30 hours for this year.
Anna: about 50 hours, total for the committee might be 500 hours, so far!
How many events are there planned for 2021?
A couple are canceled. Engineer for a day, for instance, we could not get to work for both pandemic and school calendar reasons. SHPE Texas hold’em might switch to the volleyball tourney that SHPE usually holds in May. SHPE does not think they can run two events, and volleyball is more socially distanced than poker.
What is the current dilemma you are facing?
Anna: I am in charge of the Banquet and trying to decide a budget for a big event when we literally have no idea how many people are coming. We also went from an annual Casino Night to coming up with a new activity to entertain our guests that allows for proper social distancing.
Ray: What will we do if no one shows up to the events where we honor the Young EOY and EOY? That would be so disappointing for the winner.
How do the goals of ‘celebrate Engineering’ and ‘raise money for scholarships’ influence potential solutions to the dilemma?
The option to cancel was rejected easily. Making sure that the winners and engineers in general get celebrated and recognized is REALLY important. The committee really pressed hard to keep going to make sure that scholarships would be given out this year. So, with those two principles as guidance, we altered some events and some just require tweaking.
The two celebration events, the Proclamation Breakfast (Breakfast) and the Engineer of the year Banquet (Banquet) are the two that required the most effort. The Banquet is the second most successful fundraiser- and has been completely revamped. In years past, the Banquet has been locked down by January. Here we are in March without final plans! It is now planned as an outdoor event, at a more expensive venue, that allows for significantly fewer people. As a result of the uncertainty of how limited we may be, we are optimistic that our members will feel safe to attend, as we are taking all CDC recommendations into consideration as we are planning these events. Their safety is our primary concern. We are even switching out our annual Casino Night with new entertainment to ensure everyone can enjoy the night.
As a group, how is the committee handling the change and uncertainty? Were meetings seamlessly moved online? Is it harder or easier?
There has always been an online option for (our Board) the committee meetings. There were always people who participated online, so that felt comfortable. The online meetings are more efficient, but less fun and less impromptu brainstorming or spontaneous support or ideas. Pretty typical stuff these days.
Do you think there has been more or less community support?
We sent out a survey, most participants said they will still sponsor and participate – pending current restrictions. The survey helped the committee decide to push forward and cemented the recognize and celebrate themes.
Who is the Engineer of the year for 2021? Razi Hosseni with the City of San Antonio. The Young Engineer of the year is Helen Salama with Freese and Nichols.