At a recent ASCE YMF luncheon, Kristina Swallow spoke about saying “yes” to opportunities. She also offered a shadowing opportunity to fly as her companion pass on Southwest Airlines during her trips as President-Elect of ASCE. For the first trip, I joined her DC trip that included the ASCE Fly-In’s, Industry Leaders Committee (ILC) events, committee meetings, board meetings, the OPALS, and a Dream Big viewing.
The ASCE Fly-In’s were a unique experience that I had never been exposed to before. The Younger Members received a training on advocating for infrastructure funding. Since most of the Younger Members and I had not visited Congress before, the training was crucial and helped us prepare for the meetings. The ASCE report card was our main tool for gaining the representatives’ support. I truly enjoyed this part of shadowing Kristina as I got to meet Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, many other representative’s staffers, and ASCE engineers representing all other states.
The ILC meetings included an open debate about “raising the bar,” the issue whether requiring a master’s degree for future professional engineers should be implemented or not. Kristina and I also sat in on the transportation policy committee meeting. They were discussing the “vision zero” policy, a commitment to designing with the goal of having zero fatalities on the road. I also got to sit in during the ASCE board meeting where they discussed possibly changing their board structure, creating a certification for civil engineers through ASCE, and many other issues. Sitting in on these meetings was a great experience to have a peek into which direction our profession is gearing towards.
The OPALS event was the awards ceremony for the project of the year and other awards. It was inspiring to hear the thank you speeches of the winners who touched on their inspirations, mentors and challenges they overcame. The people I met there through Kristina were highly involved with ASCE throughout their whole lives which was also inspiring to me. The next day we went to the National Air and Space Museum for a viewing of Dream Big, the film about different engineers overcoming challenges or problems.
Overall, each part of this trip inspired me and has gotten me ready to become more involved. Shadowing Kristina allowed me to learn about ASCE in ways I would never have through the local chapter. I highly encourage all my peers to apply for this experience, as it has really helped shape my new goals for my career. Huge thank you to Kristina Swallow and ASCE YMF for coordinating this opportunity and allowing me to go, thanks!