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ASCE Younger Members Discuss Leadership and Communication in Reston VA

31 Aug 2017 3:33 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

By Edward Major II, E.I.T. (YMF Technical/Employment Chair) and Max Wallack, E.I.T. (YMF Community/Outreach Chair)

On August 4-6, 2017, the ASCE Committee on Younger Members hosted the annual Younger Member Leadership Symposium (YMLS) at the ASCE headquarters in Reston, VA. Younger Member Forum (YMF) members Max Wallack, E.I.T. (YMF Community/Outreach Chair) and Edward Major II, E.I.T. (YMF Technical/Employment Chair) had the opportunity to represent the ASCE Pittsburgh Section at this year’s event. The conference brought together nearly 50 younger members from across the nation to network, learn about different communication and personality styles, and discuss the hot issues facing the civil engineering profession today.

“Raise the Bar” Brainstorming Session

While Max attended a pre-conference technical tour (see below) of various legislative and ASCE offices in Washington, D.C., Edward had the opportunity to meet with ASCE’s “Raise the Bar” director, Kelly Dooley. “Raise the Bar” has been an initiative by ASCE since the 1990s to elevate professional licensure requirements to match their current body of knowledge definition (“body of knowledge” referring to the set of knowledge gained during a typical undergraduate engineering curriculum). Through this brainstorming session, we learned of three possible actions that ASCE has considered:

  1. Accept that the current body of knowledge definition established by ASCE is greater than current licensure requirements and do nothing,
  2. Attempt to elevate licensure requirements to match the body of knowledge, such as requiring an advanced degree or additional coursework to take the P.E. exam, or
  3. Offer something, such as special certifications, in addition to the professional license that, when held in conjunction with the license, will equal the current body of knowledge definition.

Option 2 is currently being explored by ASCE through lobbying of state legislatures. This option, in its current form, specifies a master of science or 30 credits of coursework beyond the bachelor of science as requirements to sit for the P.E. exam. Efforts have been made in several states to reach out to the local ASCE sections and branches, and even legislators themselves. Although this is the direction that ASCE is currently pursuing, the other two options and potential others could prove valuable as well. It is our hope that the feedback offered by Edward and others will help ASCE proceed successfully.

Technical Tour

During the technical tour, ASCE younger members toured the capital building with former Representative Bob Carr and visited the ASCE Government Relations Department in Washington, D.C. The ASCE Government Relations Department advocates for infrastructure, sustainability, and education and licensing requirements for civil engineers. ASCE encourages younger members to attend the Legislative Fly-In to meet with members of Congress to discuss ASCE initiatives in-person and gain valuable experience interfacing with government.

Friday Evening

After the technical tour and Raise the Bar session, YMLS attendees developed a personal vision, which is “everything you would like to be, do, and have in your life/career. It is a vision of your future based on your personal values, purpose, influence from mentors, and life goals.” (Kelly Doyle, YMLS 2017)

Saturday / Sunday

At the ASCE headquarters in Reston, Virginia, younger members discussed a variety of skills that could be implemented in the workplace. One of the main focuses of the weekend was how identifying our personal communication styles, in addition to coworkers’ communication styles, can help facilitate better interactions. These styles are based on assertiveness, the degree to which we ask or tell, and emotional responsiveness, the degree to which we control or display our emotions. These four main communication styles are:

  • Analytical (which represents approximately 38% of engineers),
  • Driver (28% of engineers),
  • Expressive (23% of engineers), and
  • Amiable (11% of engineers).

A more in-depth explanation of these four styles can be found here.

Edward determined that his personal communication style can be classified as Analytical-Amiable. Analyticals are classified by a desire to always know the correct answer, to always have all the facts in front of them during a discussion, and are sometimes seen as rather detached. Amiables are typically very approachable and cooperative, good listeners, and tend to use opinions more during discussions.

Max identified his personal communication style as Analytical-Expressive. Expressives are enthusiastic, approachable, want to develop relationships, and are sometimes seen as impractical or make quick decisions based on emotion. The last style, Drivers, which neither Edward or Max identify as, is generally classified by being organized, decisive, and sometimes critical of work.

Other topics of interest during the weekend were negotiating skills, work-life balance, difficult decisions, and a mentorship panel consisting of vice presidents, directors, and project managers from various public and private entities. The panel responded to a series of questions from younger members. The advice from these mentors was relatively consistent across the board – most recommended joining multiple professional organizations, learning to communicate across multiple generations, and presenting information concisely.

YMLS is held annually at ASCE Headquarters in Reston, VA. You can read more about Pittsburgh’s participation in the event last year here

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