By Connor Gibson (2022-2023 Pittsburgh Section ASCE YMF President) and Tom Batroney
I had the pleasure of attending the Multi-Regional Leadership Conference in Charlotte, NC from Jan. 20th-21st alongside fellow ASCE Pittsburgh YMF Board members Daniel Phillips (Past President), Jayne Marks (Treasurer), and Kaitie DeOre (President Elect). I personally had an awesome time attending insightful presentations, networking with fellow engineers, and getting in some ballroom dancing in at the Awards Banquet! The primary purpose of the conference is to encourage collaboration with ASCE headquarters staff in Reston, learn best practices from other sections and chapters, and generally understand how we can make the Pittsburgh Section better for our membership.
Over the course of the two-day conference, we developed three key takeaways and recommendations to the ASCE Pittsburgh Board of Directors for how to improve our Section and increase our young membership and engagement:
Key Takeaway 1: Many Sections and Chapters are struggling with getting involvement from young members and students. To encourage student and younger member participation we need to be a coordinated effort from the Section as a whole including faculty advisors, practitioner advisors, and institutes.
Recommendations to the ASCE Pittsburgh Board:
Organize more activities that are low cost and on campus. Free food that’s not pizza and events that are fun are better. Have to go to them. Needs to be more than just YMF hosting events, need institutes, and Section there as well.
Develop a shared student engagement calendar for tracking ASCE student activities and section events on campuses. Recommend a single point person who would be in charge of the calendar possibly under the Outreach committee. Updating the calendar will be the responsibility of the current faculty advisors, practitioner advisors, student chapter presidents, YMF, and institutes. Host the calendar on Section website so that everyone can view. Recommend creating the calendar using the Sections gmail address.
Key Takeaway 2: Our Section needs to focus more on membership transition from student member to Associate member. This transition can be a difficult and sometimes confusing process for early career professionals. This transition is where ASCE loses most of its engagement and membership. Especially when dues increase after the first year.
Recommendations to the ASCE Pittsburgh Board:
Every year obtain list of graduating seniors from the Universities. Email them about how to get involved in YMF, how to approach their employer about paying for membership when they start their job, and the benefits of early career involvement at ASCE.
Considering hosting a “principals” breakfast meeting to discuss the state of the industry and listening to their needs. Invite one or two high level principals from firms to ask them what they need from ASCE and learn how to encourage involvement from their employees, both young and more seasoned.
Key Takeaway 3: More personalized engagement with our young members.
In addition to our recommendations to the board, other fun highlights of the conference included listening to Brock E. Barry give two phenomenal presentations on nonverbal communication and the art of giving an effective presentation. For more information, here’s a link to a video interview from ASCE with Mr. Barry on the importance of non-verbal communication in the workplace. Also, the Committee on Younger Members round table discussions on topics such as membership, social media networking, and professional development were extremely helpful and provided a great deal of insight in how our local ASCE chapter can better serve and reach out to its younger members. Finally, the presentation on the Charlotte Whitewater Design and Hydrology project was fascinating and shed light on how a few people with a vision and determination can get a project approved, designed, and built in their local community.Lastly, I wanted to give a shout out to fellow ASCE Pittsburgh Board members Tom Batroney, Shirley Tang, and Pat Sullivan for also making it out to the conference and showing off their incredible dance moves at the Carolina Panthers stadium social event.
Pictured from left to right: Pat Sullivan, Tom Batroney, Daniel Phillips, Connor Gibson, Marsia Geldert-Murphey, Jayne Marks, Kaitie DeOre, and Shirley Tang
Pictured from left to right: Connor Gibson, Jayne Marks, Kaitie DeOre, and Daniel Phillips
Pictured above: All the happy and enthusiastic ASCE Younger Members at the 2023 Multi-Regional Leadership Conference!