ASCE 2017: The Year in Quotes

From putting civil engineering on IMAX screens around the world to sending home a report card grading America’s infrastructure, ASCE had a big year.

This week, ASCE News is taking a look back at 2017, highlighting the members and moments that made the year memorable.

Here is a look at the Society’s year through the most quotable of quotes.


Dream Big won four 2017 Achievement Awards from the Giant Screen Cinema Association.
2017 will always be remembered at ASCE as the year of Dream Big.

On Dream Big: Engineering Our World:


“I don’t know if I’m just a softie, but I was greatly moved by those kids, those young people doing those wonderful projects. It makes you feel good about the future of engineering and the future of the country when you know there are smart people coming along who are going to step in and advance science and technology. I think it will have a huge impact. I personally can’t wait to take my grandchildren to see it.”

ASCE Region 2 Governor Bill Brittle, P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE, who worked at Bechtel for 44 years in various management roles

“Wooooooh! Two big thumbs up! How many times does a civil engineer get to go to a debut of an IMAX film that talks about the joy and wonder of engineering?”

ASCE 2017 President Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE

“The stereotype with engineers is that people think, ‘Oh, boring. They just sit behind the desk, they don’t do much.’ But this film, I think, is going to portray some of the great and magnificent things we do – and that it’s all limitless.”

Danny Nguyen, A.M.ASCE, Michael Baker International senior engineer
and Utah Younger Member Forum member

On the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card and the importance of engineering advocacy:

“If the United States is truly committed to an infrastructure system that is built for the 21st century, we need increased and sustained investment; we need bold leadership; we need thoughtful planning; and we need careful preparation – not just for now but for the future, so that infrastructure is both sustainable and resilient.”

ASCE 2017 President Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE

“These are politically challenging times. I think everyone would agree that we’re struggling a little bit. Talking on the Hill this week, their message was, ‘We want to do something, but we’re just not sure we can come together on this.’

“And that to me says we as ASCE members, as voters, need to act. We need to start telling our elected officials that infrastructure is important.”

ASCE 2018 President Kristina Swallow, P.E., ENV SP, F.ASCE

On embracing the collaborative process as a civil engineer:


“There is a lot of cross-coordination, a lot of moving parts, a lot of interdisciplinary cross-resolution. When you’re sitting at these tables, it’s intimidating sometimes because everyone is looking at their own stake, their own interest. And we’re talking about fulfilling the needs of multibillion-dollar capital projects.

“At the end of the day, we’re servicing a greater need – the agency as a whole and the public. It’s a huge responsibility. This is critical infrastructure. So, going in with that mindset really puts it into perspective, the importance and magnitude of the work. It really diminishes the little things you disagree over.”

2017 ASCE New Face of Civil Engineering Muhammad Elgammal, P.E., M.ASCE,
associate civil engineer, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

On ASCE presidential elections:

“I am very happy and honored by the trust and faith my fellow ASCE members have given me. I am very happy to be working next year with Norma Jean and Kristina.”

ASCE 2018 President-Elect Robin Kemper, P.E., LEED AP, F.ASCE, F.SEI

“It’s certainly not about me; it’s about the organization. But being the person carrying that is a huge honor and a huge responsibility. So there’s definitely a different feeling there. I’m looking forward to shouldering that. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this year.”

ASCE 2018 President Kristina Swallow, P.E., ENV SP, F.ASCE

Cal Poly SLO won the 2017 National Concrete Canoe Competition championship. PHOTO: Barry Staver
Cal Poly SLO won the 2017 National Concrete Canoe Competition championship. PHOTO: Barry Staver

On student competition championships:

“We can’t believe it. I can tell you that I shed a tear of pride and happiness for my team.

“Four years ago, when I started as a member on the steel bridge ÉTS team, we could not have believed that we could compete against the best universities of the United States. Remember that we are a small university, French Canadian from Quebec, where only a bachelor’s degree in engineering is taught.

“We are proud of our university, who we are and who we represent.”

Steel Bridge team captain Marie-Pier Diotte, S.M.ASCE,
of 2017 national champion École de technologie superiere

“It’s surreal. It hasn’t really hit us yet. We’re walking on a cloud right now.”

Concrete Canoe captain Dillan Quigley, S.M.ASCE, of 2017 national champion Cal-Poly SLO

On winning ASCE’s 2017 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award:

“Wow, I really didn’t expect to win this with the competition that we had. We really appreciate this. We’re proud as a team to give the San Diego region more reliability than they’ve had.

“I worked 22 years for the water authority. I started off as a staff engineer and I worked my way up to director of engineering. And I just visited my dad in Boston. He’s very sick. He has Parkinson’s, and he was very proud of me being a civil engineer.”

Jerry Reed III, P.E., M.ASCE, San Diego County Water Authority director of engineering

Dream Big featured civil engineer Menzer Pehlivan works with girls from St. Theresa School - from left, Isabelle Mascarenhas, Emily Frost, and Breda Brosey.
Dream Big star Menzer Pehlivan has helped inspire a generation of girls to embrace civil engineering.

On inspiring children, especially girls, through Dream Big:

“I think as a profession we’re getting smarter in when and how we interact with kids, talking to them earlier and also emphasizing that engineers really do in their day-to-day jobs make the world a better place for people. I think that really appeals to a lot of people, but to girls especially.”

ASCE 2017 President Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE

“I believe that every young woman and girl should understand that they can do this. This is not only for men, this is not only for a certain class of people, it’s not only for people whose parents or uncles or grandfathers were engineers. Engineering is very accessible, and I think that accessibility can build belief.”

Bridges to Prosperity President and CEO Avery Bang, EI, A.M.ASCE, featured in Dream Big

On ASCE’s new Code of Ethics Canon 8 on diversity and inclusion:

“This was a case where we wanted to make ASCE’s position bold and visible.”

Quincy Alexander, M.ASCE, chair of ASCE’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion,
who presented the rationale for Canon 8 to the Board of Direction in March

On the legacy of civil engineering educators:

“This legacy we leave as educators is probably the most important thing we do. I think it’s more important than specific papers and specific accomplishments. The fact that you’re leaving a legacy of people who will carry your approach to professional ethics and work – the people we influence are the most important.”

Bruce Ellingwood, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, NAE, Dist.M.ASCE, Colorado State University College of Engineering Eminent Scholar,
recipient of ASCE’s 2017 Outstanding Projects and Leaders award in education

On young engineers supporting sustainability:


“It’s easy for us to think about a world where we’re reusing, recycling and reducing our waste.

“We live with this on a daily basis – seeing the consequences associated with deferred infrastructure maintenance and not being flexible in our policy, regulations, and design standards. It’s really starting to show. So, sustainability just makes sense. For some of us, it just doesn’t make sense to do it any other way.”

Elizabeth Ruedas, P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE, CNC Engineering project engineer, City of Industry, CA,
member of the ASCE Committee on Younger Members

A Texas National Guardsman carries a resident from her flooded home. PHOTO: U.S. Dept. of Defense
A Texas National Guardsman carries a resident from her flooded home. PHOTO: U.S. Dept. of Defense

On the effects of Hurricane Harvey:

“What is happening in Houston is a life-changing event for our entire community. Seventy-two hours in, and we are still actively rescuing people stranded on roofs and in homes with water. Recovery will take years.”

City of Houston acting director of public works Carol Ellinger Haddock, P.E., M.ASCE,
and ASCE Board of Direction member

“I’m blessed to be a part of this community. I’ve lived many places and finally found one to call home. We’re hurting right now though. So many have lost everything and most don’t have flood insurance because we aren’t in the flood plain… My emotions are kind of a wreck right now, but this is what life is made of.”

Texas Section Second Year Director-at-Large Kate Osborn, EIT, A.M.ASCE,
who volunteered in the Harvey aftermath to help her hometown of China, TX

“I thought for years, watching all these disasters across the country in different areas, I’m thinking, ‘Why don’t these people get out of the way? They know it’s coming.’ And now it’s happened to me.”

Gary Struzick, P.E., M.ASCE, flood expert whose Houston neighborhood was flooded

On ASCE’s Grand Challenge and Innovation Contest:

“The Grand Challenge is about changing the culture. We are all too often incremental. And I think that’s human. We make incremental changes and incremental improvements. What we’re [the ILC] trying to do is what they call ‘black swan events,’ events that come out of nowhere and make drastic changes and revolutionize the industry.”

Marc Hoit, Ph.D., F.SEI, F.ASCE, 2018 Innovation Contest chair,
North Carolina State University professor and vice chancellor for information technology  

On the 2017 ASCE Salary Survey’s findings:

“It’s an exciting time to be a civil engineer.  As professionals, we take pride in our work as the stewards of the nation’s infrastructure and value educational and technical advancement to continue as leaders.

“The salary survey results show that our skills are appreciated by the market through compensation and other benefits. Not only is the profession a fun and exciting one, it is also one where you can make a good livelihood.”

ASCE 2017 President Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE


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