Topic Moderators

Collaborate_topicmoderator_badge_DRAFT1_web-01.jpg

Meet the ASCE Collaborate Topic Moderators

Topic Moderators add value to the discussion, increase the body of knowledge, and nurture the ASCE Collaborate Community. Find out a little more about them.

Dr. Andres Guzman, ING., M.ASCE

Andres_Guzman.jpg


Why do you think it is important to contribute to ASCE Collaborate and the civil engineering profession as a whole?

ASCE Collaborate is an excellent opportunity to share our knowledge with young and former engineers and also with colleagues around the world. We can talk not only about technical issues but also about our profession, including ethical issues.

What advice do you often share with someone early on in their civil engineering career?

As a civil engineering professor, I always tell my students to dedicate their work to serve, to do everything in the right way. I also tell them to be involved in different activities (sports, music, arts, other disciplines) to increase their knowledge and acquire new points of view in facing the daily practice. 

Why did you become a civil engineer? 

I’ve always liked mathematics and physics. I like to know how everything works. Last but not least in importance, my university is the best in my home country (Colombia), and I wanted to learn and know with the best.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

I enjoy helping others with no reward in mind. I can design any structure I can imagine and watch how it grows when it is constructed. That is beautiful. 

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

Right now I am involved in a project (a concrete building to serve as an art school) that uses different design disciplines, and during construction all conditions changed (soils, materials). The project needs to be verified for every new load that appears during construction.

Bevin Beaudet, P.E. M.ASCE

Bevin_2nd.jpg
Why do you think it is important to contribute to ASCE Collaborate and the civil engineering profession as a whole?

It is important for civil engineers to share their knowledge and experiences. We all become better problem solvers when we combine the experiences of the entire profession to help us with issues that we might otherwise struggle with on our own. ASCE Collaborate is a terrific forum for this profession-wide brainstorming.  

What advice do you often share with someone early on in their civil engineering career?


I challenge new engineers to get as much detailed engineering experience as they can. This might mean volunteering for difficult tasks or asking their managers for jobs that involve hard engineering skills. Second, I remind them that it is not only OK, but good to ask questions of more experienced engineers. Third, I recommend that they work toward getting their professional engineering registrations as quickly as they can.

Why did you become a civil engineer?

I became a civil engineer to work in water/wastewater treatment and water resources. I wanted to put my talents to work planning, designing, and building projects that advanced public health and the environment.   

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

Ribbon cuttings.

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

The most important project I have ever been involved in was late in my career as the Utilities Director for Palm Beach County, Florida. The project involved solving the technical and political problems of bringing in fresh, clean water and much-needed infrastructure repair and replacement for the poverty-stricken cities in Western Palm Beach County along Lake Okeechobee (the Glades Tri-cities). I did a presentation on this entitledEngineering to Out Poverty,” and received commendations from all three city councils just as I retired from the utility. This was my proudest moment as an engineer.  

 

Dr. Dilip Barua, M.ASCE

Dilip_Barua.jpg
Why do you think it is important to contribute to ASCE Collaborate and the civil engineering profession as a whole?

I believe that engineers, and for that matter any professionals, benefit greatly through interactions and discussions. The process helps them learn to refine their knowledge by sharing experience and insight. I think ASCE Collaborate has given engineers that opportunity. My motivation for contributing is to benefit all. 

What advice do you often share with someone early on in their civil engineering career?

Young civil engineers are in the process of learning and gaining valuable experience. They require patience, empathy, and fellow-feeling from experienced senior engineers. I try to provide advice and share experience from that perspective.

Why did you become a civil engineer?

When I was about to choose departments during the second year of engineering studies, my chemical engineering professor advised me to become a chemical engineer (somehow he was quite impressed with my answers, etc.). But that comment from one of my friends caused me to study civil engineering. Later in my profession, especially with the mentoring and advising of my Dutch colleagues and friends, I became highly motivated to learn and master hydraulic engineering aspects of civil engineering in the coastal environments.

I think civil engineers, as opposed to our friends in other disciplines, have more interaction with members of the public – because that public sees roads, bridges, buildings, ports, beaches, etc., more often than they see the other things. This makes civil engineering very interesting.       

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

 I think finding and generating an array of civil engineering solutions that accompany defensible scientific and economic justifications in investigative and leadership roles – that’s what I enjoy most.

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

I have done many – and most of them are challenging because many colleagues wouldn’t want to do them. Perhaps configuring an in-water LNG export terminal with all its associated activities of analyzing, modeling, and designing is the project I would consider most challenging in the mature part of my career.   

Neil Kazen, F.ASCE

NeilNew.jpg
Why do you think it is important to contribute to ASCE Collaborate and the civil engineering profession as a whole?


Contributing to ASCE Collaborate enables me to follow up on the experience and concerns of my civil engineering colleagues, and allows me to share my own. I enjoy the freedom of discussing topics related to my whole career. Always keeping in mind that civil engineering has been the backbone of civilization since the dawn of history.

What advice do you often share with someone early on in their civil engineering career?

My advice to all engineers who are early in their career is to keep in mind the engineering perspective at large: a tri-harmony between personal creative intuition, objective rigorous science, and societal conscientiousness. Look at engineering as the art of the possible, of transforming hopes and dreams into reality while dealing with the “devil in the details.” Civil engineers in particular need to look closely into constructability requirements, workmanship challenges, environmental restrictions, labor regulations, and all that is needed to create that long-lasting project that might continue to serve society long after they are gone.

Why did you become a civil engineer?

I grew up in the middle of what was the largest construction boom in the world: the modern construction of the Middle East. Civil engineering was the bold frontier reviving the glories of ancient civil engineering monuments like the pyramids of Egypt, the Baalbek Castle in Lebanon, and the Roman Aqueducts in Syria (which are still functional today). Kingdoms and empires, even civilizations came and went, but those civil engineering monuments are still standing, proudly shrugging off time.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

Its down-to-earth presence in serving the public at large, yet outliving almost everything else. Since my first project, a stadium, nearly half a century ago, there has been so much change in the world: its leaders, ideals, fashion, consumer goods, nearly everything; but that stadium continues to host the masses, one generation after another. It gives me quiet and deep satisfaction to see that the projects I worked on are part of the landscape and infrastructure of so many cities around the world. Some projects were large enough to involve heads of state, and one that I know of was presented proudly on a postage stamp of a country. 

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

My last project was my most challenging project. Since I wanted to retire with a “big bang,” I picked up Canada’s biggest project: Eglinton Crosstown Light Rapid Transit (ECLRT). It’s a design-build-finance-operate and maintain for 30 years project. ECLRT 19 km (12 miles) line, across Toronto, includes 25 stations (with 15 underground stations), two bridges, and a maintenance facility. In fact, it was the largest project in the history of Ontario. As the System-wide Lead Structural Engineer, I led seven structural engineering teams from five firms (one of them supplying three teams). It was quite a challenge to streamline teams from five firms, some of which were once in fierce competition with each other, into one coherent Structural Focus Group – the largest of its kind in Canada. With rivalry replaced by close team cooperation, the result was the development of a unified Structural Design Criteria, structural concept philosophy, and the extensive value engineering (including some firsts in that country) that helped us win the competition against a rival consortium. After we proceeded into final design, with system-wide reports completed, I retired at age 70, leaving it in the safe hands of my successors.

Spiridon Lazaris, MPA, MCE, P.E. ENV SP, M.ASCE

Spiros_Lazaris.jpg
Why do you think it is important to contribute to ASCE Collaborate and the civil engineering profession as a whole?


ASCE Collaborate provides the platform where ASCE experts can communicate and share ideas, processes, methods, and knowledge with anyone who is involved not only within the civil engineering field, but with any discipline and at any professional and academic level. 

What advice do you often share with someone early on in their civil engineering career?

Be passionate about what you do, learn everything about it, and practice humility and kindness everywhere. 

Why did you become a civil engineer?

To make an impact by enhancing the performance and safety of high-visibility public works infrastructure projects while increasing the quality of life of the citizens in that community, making it a better place to live. I thoroughly enjoy teaching and mentoring students who one day will hopefully become the future leaders in our profession.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

To be able to determine how infrastructure is conceptualized, designed, and finally constructed.

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

The goal of the Congo Revival Initiative is to build self-replicable sustainable University Complexes within remote areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a continuing effort and collaboration with local community leaders and officials, tribal chiefs, and professionals within the DRC and experts within the USA on all technical areas.   

Stephanie Slocum, P.E., M.ASCE

StephanieSlocum.jpg

Why do you think it is important to contribute to ASCE Collaborate and the civil engineering profession as a whole?

When I first started working in the early 2000's, the internet was just taking off and discussion groups for civil engineers didn’t exist. I had to navigate many things on my own, especially nontechnical career development, because I didn’t have anyone to ask.

Through my contribution to ASCE Collaborate, I have the chance to help make sure other engineers have someone to ask, and to help them connect with other professionals. I’m particularly excited about the “Professional and Career Topics” forum, because of the focus on career development and work environments specific to civil engineers. It’s something I wish had been available to me early in my career.

An interaction with one mentor or one person can change the course of someone’s career. On ASCE Collaborate, my goal is to ask good questions to spark a dialogue between two people who may not have connected before.

What advice do you often share with someone early on in their civil engineering career?

It is dangerous to ask this question of a woman who literally wrote a book on the subject. These days, I send people over to Amazon.com for my book, She Engineers or to my website, which is full of guidance for early and mid‐career engineers.

But if I only had 30 seconds, this is what I’d share:

Learn everything you can, ask for what you want, and always remember that engineering is a service industry that serves people. In practice, that means saying “yes” often. Yes to late nights learning new concepts, to doing what you need to do to meet every deadline every time, to volunteering in organizations like ASCE, and to things that will be uncomfortable at first – that first presentation at a township meeting, negotiating a raise, asking for help (and then asking several more times when you don’t get it the first time!), and talking with a stranger at a conference.

Why did you become a civil engineer?

I mentioned earlier that contributing to ASCE Collaborate was important because one interaction can change your life. That happened to me in college, and it’s the reason I became a structural engineer.

I was struggling with picking my college major – in my second year of college! – and had already switched from biochemistry to computer engineering (where I hated my C++ programming class). For exercise and stress‐relief, I often played tennis with a friend majoring in engineering. He came to play one day straight from his last class, and brought a miniature building model. I looked at the model and asked him in which engineering class he was building models. The rest you can say is history – I went into architectural engineering, and specifically structural building design. I’d always been fascinated by buildings (but do not consider myself artistic, thus ruling out architecture). I liked math, science, and writing. I didn’t realize you could combine them into a career until this one interaction opened my eyes.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

My top three are impact, collaboration, and problem solving. Check out this blog article for a deeper dive into those reasons, from when I worked as a design engineer and in my current role as an entrepreneur. 

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed? 

I have two. The first is completing and publishing my book, She Engineers. This was one of those projects I thought I might get to “someday” – like when I retired. But the universe had other plans. It was a reminder to me that you need to take a chance on new opportunities when they come, and that big dreams require big action.

The second is a building project called “Ship in a Bottle.” It’s actually one of the smaller projects I’ve completed in terms of total construction cost, but it was extremely challenging. It’s a project at Clarion University (in Pennsylvania), where we renovated Becht Hall. The building was made in the early 1900's. The structure was wood floor and wall framing with exterior masonry bearing walls, and was originally used as a dormitory. Existing drawings were not available, and we were changing the use to a student services center, which required an increase in the structural loads for the building. After reviewing many options over several years, the team determined that the inside of the building would be gutted – structure and all – to achieve the project goals. But, since the exterior of the building was historic, the exterior building shell was to be maintained. That meant we needed to figure out a way to entirely replace four stories of structure inside without demolishing the exterior roof and walls. This project was a fascinating lesson in existing conditions, constructability, and teamwork. Our new foundations and structural system were designed based first on the question “How do you build the new structure within the very limited space available?” The contractor had to work around the massive amounts of shoring required to support the walls and roof in the interim conditions. We even found unusual things during demolition, like a large tree trunk holding up the existing roof structure that needed to be replaced.

Click HERE for a construction time‐lapse video of the project showing the structure. It was taken by the contractor and demonstrates some of the complexities of the project.