Meet Robert (Bob) D. Stevens Ph.D, PE, F.ASCE, AICP
The ASCE Texas Section Board of Direction members were asked to fill out a questionnaire so that the Section’s members might get to know them a little better on a personal level. This month’s featured Board member is Robert (Bob) D. Stevens Ph.D, PE, F.ASCE, AICP, the Section’s VP Technical Elect. Stevens is a very active volunteer, also volunteering as Trustee of the United Engineering Foundation and as a Board Member at ARTBA. He is a member of the Keller, Texas Planning & Zoning Commission. In 2015, Stevens served as the President of ASCE and is now President Emeritus. Though retired from active practice, Stevens was previously an Executive VP at Arcadis.
When did you first get involved with ASCE?
I joined the ASCE student chapter my Junior year as a civil engineering student at the University of Akron in Ohio.
What’s your most memorable project?
I was working for an engineering firm in Akron, Ohio in 1987 when it won a project with me as the proposed PM. The Taipei Rapid Transit retained us to prepare an environmental impact statement to U.S. standards for the proposed 100-km, $6-billion, rapid transit system. The work included identifying potential system impacts and coming up with mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate those impacts on people and businesses. The EIS was approved and the system was constructed. The system helped transform traffic and development in Taipei. It gave people the option of using a great transit system, helped reduce the number of cars and focused development around stations. It also reduced air pollution and improved the quality of life in Taipei.
When did you know you wanted to be a civil engineer?
As a 10-year old, I rode my bike about 2 blocks from my house to watch construction on a new freeway. I observed the work from the removal of structures and the relocation of utilities to the earthwork and eventual building of the bridges and paving of the new road. I was fascinated by what I saw. One day, I learned that the project was designed by civil engineers. At that point I decided that was what I wanted to do—become a civil engineer to help make things better for people.
What do you enjoy in your free time?
Music is my advocation. I’ve been a church organist since my time in undergraduate school. At White’s Chapel UMC, I play piano in one service and sing in the choirs in 2 services. I’m also the substitute organist for 2 services.
Mountains or beach?
We love traveling and are doing a lot of it now that I’m retired from active practice. Both work and pleasure travel have allowed us to visit over 100 countries. Our favorite way to travel on cruise ships. We’ve done 2 river cruises, including on the Nile and Yangtze Rivers, and over 80 ocean cruises, mostly on Princess Cruise Lines. Cruising is such a great way to travel as your bed goes with you.
Who is most famous person you have met?
While ASCE’s 2015 President, I had the opportunity to speak at the Japan Society of Civil Engineers’ 100th anniversary celebration in Tokyo. I was the only non-Japanese speaking person on the dais when a surprise speaker entered, the Crown Prince of Japan. He stopped in front of me to greet me. I was about to bow when he extended his hand to shake hands and greeted me in English. He thanked me for the support and cooperation of ASCE with Japanese civil engineers. The Crown Prince became the Emperor of Japan in 2019. He is now His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.