Meet Clay A. Forister PE, CFM (Brazoria County, Assistant County Engineer)
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 Educational Affairs Elect Clay A. Forister PE, CFM:
When did you first get involved with ASCE at any level (student chapter, local branch, section)?
I served as treasurer and president of the Texas A&M ASCE student chapter.
How has ASCE helped you in your career?
ASCE has helped me tremendously in two key areas. The first area is leadership and management training. Serving my country, working for both the public and private sectors, and volunteering extensively in organizations like ASCE have exposed me to a variety of leadership and management models. Volunteer organizations are the only environment where you cannot resort to fear-based motivation (the beatings will continue until morale improves…) but instead learn how to bring out the best in volunteers that motivates them to accomplish your goals. Applied correctly in any of the other environments, this model can enable you to become a well-liked and well respected leader amongst your subordinates and peers. The second area is networking. I believe that water always finds its own level and as a young engineer it can be very difficult getting to know those more advanced in their civil engineering careers. By becoming involved in leadership roles within ASCE, I have built quality relationships with leaders of major construction and engineering firms and government agencies that have directly benefitted my career in many ways including pursuing potential projects, advancing my career, and seeking advice to solve problems.
What do you love the most about being a civil engineer?
Civil engineers leave a legacy through our work product. I have heard some engineers say the best project is the one that is never built. I disagree completely – I pursued this field of practice to contribute intentionally to the built environment. There is nothing so satisfying as getting to say to my girls that “Daddy helped design or build this” and tell the story of some nuance or another that no one else would know is there.
When did you know you wanted to be a civil engineer?
I always had an affinity for math and science and enjoyed playing with Legos growing up. In middle school, I thought I wanted to be an aerospace engineer until Uncle Sam started shutting down military bases and I figured perhaps that was not the most stable of career fields. In early high school, my dad suggested civil engineering because we would always need infrastructure and the rest was history.
Everyone has 15 seconds of fame (at least), where have you “spent” or “earned” yours?
I was once the president of the Howdy Club, one of several non-profit alumni organizations for Fightin’ Texas Aggies in Houston. We hosted monthly Aggie Happy Hours with hundreds in attendance and held a series of weekend events throughout the year, all to raise money for our scholarship program. I found that our financial success was heavily dependent on the commitment of our main sponsor, Silver Eagle Distributors, as they had a big influence on potential happy hour sites and provided support for our major events. Their commitment was waning at the beginning of my tenure, so I set up a meeting with their marketing staff to explain our history of loyalty and the value of our demographic to their business. After that meeting, we received the red carpet treatment for the rest of my tenure and beyond.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
My favorite pastime is hunting. Except for a few isolated incidents, I have rarely been a trophy hunter, but I like to eat. I owe an eternal thanks to my good friend Eric Fisher, who some of your readers may know, who invited me hunting for the first time about 20 years ago and taught me the processing skills I use to this day to put meat on the table for my family! “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Matthew 4:19.
Who is the most famous person you have met?
I once met Meg Ryan, Lou Diamond Phillips, and a very young Matt Damon at a paintball field outside of Austin. They were there to “experience the feel of combat” leading up to the filming of Courage Under Fire. My brother shot Meg Ryan in the posterior when she decided to turn and run away!
Give us your best (clean) joke.
What is the difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted!
Learn more about the ASCE Texas Section leadership: