ASCE’s 2020 in Review: Gunalan looks back on remarkable year

It will forever be remembered as the year the COVID-19 pandemic upended nearly everything. The civil engineering industry soon pivoted to personal protection equipment at construction sites and work-from-home arrangements. ASCE responded quickly, moving meetings and events to digital platforms – all with an eye on keeping civil engineers connected, productive, and serving the public.

ASCE 2020 President K.N. Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, recently talked with the Civil Engineering Source, looking back on his presidential year, one of the most remarkable in Society history:

Source: How do you think you will remember your ASCE presidential year?

Gunalan: I sought the office to see if we could streamline and reshape the image of the organization as one that is nimble, sustainable, and attractive for future generations of civil engineers.


We looked to different organizational structures and business models to deliver value to our members and the profession. We initiated efforts to be more inclusive, to minimize our carbon footprint by reducing travel and collaborating online, and to consolidate our conferences. So we were poised to pivot when COVID-19 showed up and helped accelerate the changes we were looking to make.

I am sure many will remember the year as the year when a number of our events were canceled or pivoted to go virtual, but I would like to remember my year as one when ASCE was able to pivot to a 21st century model that will be not only attractive but one that can sustain itself for the foreseeable future.

Source: Of what are you most proud of when you assess your time as ASCE’s president?

Gunalan: I am most proud of our members around the globe and staff who are passionate and committed to the cause. It has been a great privilege and honor to serve the membership and the profession.

Source: As you look ahead to 2021, what are you hoping for ASCE members?

Gunalan: I am hoping that we all get through this pandemic safely, remain healthy, and continue to strive successfully in a world that we all know will be different.

Source: What’s next for you?

Gunalan: We’ll continue to look for ways to contribute to our members and profession and see if we can strengthen ASCE’s voice with our partners and global organizations, such as the United Nations.

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  1. Yes. We had a very difficult year. Making the meetings digital is a good move to solve the problem of difficulty of arranging physical meetings. Thanks that ASCE decided to continue the practice of not charging Life Fellows.


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