Top 3 Reasons to Love ASCE
by Natalie Chaney PE, ENV SP | Project Manager, RPS
I’m Natalie and I am currently the Texas Section VP of Educational Affairs. While I attended many ASCE meetings in college (mostly for free food, socialization, and to hear from the companies that would come to visit), I didn’t really get my ASCE career started until a few years out of college. I volunteered to help out at a booth for one event and it all went downhill from there.
My ASCE roadmap went something like this (with a few stops in between): participant on the Houston Infrastructure Report Card, Houston Younger Member Forum (YMF) Community Services Chair, YMF Chair, Houston VP Education, Houston VP Secretary, Houston VP Technical, and finally where I am today with the Texas Section.
So, let’s just say I’ve had a lot of experiences in ASCE over the past 10+ years and thus a lot of reasons to love the organization. And in no particular order, here are my top three:
Ever seen the musical “Hamilton”? In one scene, Aaron Burr reminisces about wishing he was “in the room where it happened”, referring to the meeting where leaders like Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton met to finalize a decision on assumption of national debt and the location of our nation’s capital. While not the same (but not that far off sometimes), ASCE truly gives you the chance to be in that room.
One instance has been the chance contribute to areas in the industry close to my heart like reviews and discussions of new sustainable engineering standards (nationally and locally). Just this year, the Houston public affairs committee was asked to review the Harris County Residential Green Stormwater Infrastructure Design Standards for “Imagination Zones”. There have also been numerous chances to talk with legislatures and have a seat at the table when discussing big infrastructure changes.
Another example was because of my involvement in ASCE, in 2014 I was named one of ASCE HQ’s New Faces of Civil Engineering. Beyond the recognition and chance to give back through it, I also got to head to Washington DC for the OPAL gala where I got to meet so many amazing people I still stay in touch with today.
I love being a civil engineer because you can physically see the impact of your work on a day-to-day basis. It also gives you an opportunity to affect the world and environment in a positive way. In my opinion, Civil Engineers have one of the biggest chances to influence our world in a sustainable way and our time is NOW. ASCE recognizes that.
Point blank, there is a lot of fun to be had with ASCE. In the Houston Branch, one of my favorite yearly events is the Sandcastle Competition we participate in. Every year (when there is no pandemic of course), we head down to Galveston to build a semi-professional sandcastle and even win awards. This event even transitions well through life. It was great before kids and now my twin boys are able to enjoy the event too.
Another memorable time was the Multi-Regional Leadership Conference in St. Louis. Beyond learning different leadership skills and more about ASCE, we got to explore many sites in the City including a really neat and interactive museum and of course The Gateway Arch. We then got to bring these skills home to Houston for planning of the following year’s event. As co-chair of that event, I helped plan a murder-mystery night as well as trip down to Space Center Houston, AND truly enjoyed every minute of it.
Some of my closest friends professionally and personally have come from ASCE. Many of these people I have grown up with since our early engineering days (and we still have some growing to do!). From going to all those awesomely fun events to being in the trenches planning a regional conference, you gain a trust and professional family, that cannot be surpassed.
In short, I just love ASCE. Beyond the difference you can make professionally, the people you meet and became close with are the real difference. The sky is really the limit with this organization.