Meet Robert (Bob) D. Stevens PhD, PE, PRES.15.ASCE, AICP (Arcadis, EVP)
Get to Know Your ASCE Texas Section Board of Direction
ASCE Texas Section Board of Direction members are asked to fill out a questionnaire so Section members can get to know them a little better. Let’s hear from VP of Technical Affairs Robert D. Stevens PhD, PE, F.ASCE:
When did you first get involved with ASCE at any level (student chapter, local branch, section)?
As a civil engineering student in my 3rd year at The University of Akron in Ohio, I joined the ASCE Student Chapter and have continued as a member for over 60 years.
What do you love the most about being a civil engineer?
It is so great being a civil engineer because we do things that help make peoples’ lives better and safer. We provide, operate, and maintain facilities that provide vital infrastructure such as roads, transit, rail, airports, water treatment, and trash handling.
When did you know you wanted to be a civil engineer?
I first discovered what civil engineers do when I was about 10 years old. I would ride my bike a couple of blocks from home during that summer to watch the construction of a freeway in Akron, Ohio. While watching, I was fascinated by the earth moving equipment and all the work going on. One day I got to talk to some of the workers and learned that what they were doing was all on the plans prepared by civil engineers and that civil engineers did the surveying and oversaw all the construction activities. It was right then that I decided to become a civil engineer.
Everyone has 15 seconds of fame (at least), where have you “spent” or “earned” yours?
As ASCE Global President in 2015, I had the great honor to be invited to be the commencement speaker at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. With thousands of persons in attendance at the outdoor graduation ceremony, I got to talk about civil engineering and the significant work that engineers do to make peoples’ lives better and to challenge all of the graduates to do the same. With an enrollment of over 9000 students, the graduates were from schools of Engineering and Architecture, Agricultural and Food Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, and Business.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
My advocation has been music. As a 4th grader, I started taking trumpet lessons in school. Once in high school, I played trumpet in the concert and marching bands. In 6th grade I started piano lessons and continued with them for 8 years. As my confidence on the piano grew, I played in church and got to direct a children’s choir. In undergraduate school, my interest in music continued to grow and I even considered leaving the engineering program to switch to a music program. At that point, my advisor gave me some great advice when he suggested that I continue in engineering and do a math degree with a minor in music. His advice led me to take some additional math, music, and language courses. The music courses included organ lessons. The organ led me to become a church organist. As an organist I’ve played in 11 different churches as my engineering career took us to many different locations including Ohio, Michigan, Ontario, Illinois, Taipei, California, Colorado, and Texas.
Who is the most famous person you have met?
As ASCE 2015 President-Elect, I was invited to speak at the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Japanese Society of Civil Engineers in Tokyo. ASCE was the only non- Japanese engineering society invited to make a presentation. While sitting on the platform awaiting my term to speak, a special, surprise and honored guest arrived. As Crown Prince Naruhito walked in, he stopped in front of me to greet me. Before I could bow, he stretched out his hand to shake and gave me a special greeting in English. He thanked me for being present and for all ASCE has done over the years as a friend of Japan and the Japanese Society of Civil Engineers. Some 5 years later, the Crown Prince Naruhito became the Emperor of Japan. So my hand shook the hand of the current Emperor.
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