Happy 2020! As we kick-off a new year, we will continue to advance the Texas Section’s strategic plan and focus on the ‘3Ms’ (Member Benefits, Membership Growth and Mentoring Programs). In this month’s message, I especially want to highlight the third ‘M’: the importance of mentoring.
A mentor is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as ‘someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person (mentee).’ As civil engineers, it’s our obligation to give back to the profession no matter what stage you’re at in your career. Whether you’re a recent college graduate or you’ve been a professional engineer for 40 years, it’s important to make time to participate in outreach activities to promote our field and inspire the next generation of civil engineers.
The value of mentoring goes both ways for both the mentor and mentee. ASCE recently initiated the Mentor Match Program, which allows an ASCE member to be matched with a mentor or mentee within ASCE based on each member’s profile. To participate in this program, access ASCE’s Collaborate and sign up as either a mentor or mentee by clicking ‘Register’ from the dropdown menu. Afterward, the mentor/mentee has the opportunity to introduce themselves over a ‘Discovery Call’ and can get started with building a relationship.
In addition, ASCE holds quarterly calls for those interested in or already signed up for the Mentor Match Program. Mentoring tips are typically shared during these conference calls, which also provide an open discussion forum about the program. The next call will be held on Wednesday, March 11, from noon to 1:00 p.m. (CST) and will be hosted by mentoring partners, Dustin Cole PE, SE, M.ASCE and Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE. If you have any questions about the program, please contact Tirza Austin at [email protected].
Personally, I’ve had a number of wonderful mentors over the years that have shaped and directly influenced my life and career. The topic of mentoring was especially on my mind for this article after recently losing one of my dearest friends, David Meesey. David was the epitome of a public servant who loved helping communities with their water supply needs. He worked for the Texas Water Development Board for over 40 years as a water resource planner and had an instrumental role with the first state water plan. David was an incredibly kind person and had such a passion for developing younger staff and engineers. I met David 20 years ago, while I was working at the Lower Colorado River Authority on a regional wastewater study for Northwest Travis County. He had such a profound impact on my career, and I always appreciated his advice.
As engineers, we gain our technical training during our college years; however, implementing projects and effective public communications is learned on the job. It’s important for the more experienced engineers to take a younger staff member/engineer under their wing to show them the ropes and to serve as a positive role model. Next month, the ASCE Student Chapter at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) will be hosting the Texas Student Symposium during March 4-7. This is an excellent opportunity to interact with civil engineering students from all across the state! The students will be participating in the GeoWall, Blue Sky, and Concrete Canoe Competitions. In addition, a career fair including speed interviews will be featured. I want to encourage you to attend if you’ve never been and join us for an exciting week in Arlington!
The Texas Section is also currently working on identifying mentoring needs of the Younger Member Committee, as well as identifying Student Chapters that need Practitioner Advisors. Please let me know if you’re interested in getting involved in mentoring programs. You can easily get in touch with me at (512) 796-6692 or [email protected]. Thank you for your continued support, and please don’t hesitate to let me know what you think will make us even better!