Making the Membership Ask
By Patrick Beecher PE, Nominee for 2021 ASCE Texas Section President-Elect
In addition to helping me realize that working from home is not for me, the COVID-19 restrictions have given me a renewed appreciation for my employer, Terracon. I am truly thankful to be working for the same strong, supportive company throughout my career (going on 21 years). They have not only provided the tools I need to take care of my clients but also encouraged involvement in a professional organization as part of overall leadership development.
As a student at Texas A&M University in the 90’s, I occasionally attended ASCE Student Chapter meetings. To be honest, my motivation in attending was driven more by free pizza than any other reason. It wasn’t until I began working at HBC Engineering, a division of Terracon, in January 1999 that I started to become an active member of ASCE.
I credit two former Austin Branch presidents, James Bierschwale PE (my supervisor) and Todd Swoboda PE, a Senior Engineer in the Geotechnical Engineering Department, for asking me to attend Austin Branch meetings. They also introduced me to other active members of the Branch and encouraged me to get involved on committee assignments to get my feet wet. They impressed upon me the importance of developing my technical and professional skills and building my network. Early on, I probably looked forward to Branch meetings and committee work more as a distraction from my other work assignments than valuable networking and leadership development. Yet, I soon realized that the people that I was getting to know at ASCE meetings were asking me to take on bigger roles within the Branch and at the Texas Section level while also appearing on my projects at work. Many of these people became my friends and have contributed greatly to my career.
I also had the opportunity to get involved in some really fun activities. The next time you see me, ask me about the Steel Bridge Competition held in Mexico City at Universidad La Salle or manning the safety boat on Decker Lake for concrete canoe races after a cold front blew through town.
I’ll conclude my ramblings for now and leave you with this thought: In a time where being connected and a part of a strong community is needed more than ever, making a simple “ask” is where it often begins. As Branches begin the process of putting together slates of officers and committee chairs for next year, I hope you take advantage of this opportunity to make that “ask”.