Topic Moderators

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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.

Hala Abdo, E.I.T.

 Hala.jpgHala Abdo, E.I.T., Road and Drainage EIT at FAM Construction, LLC. 

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

I do believe that each one of us has some knowledge to share no matter our experience. Also, as a civil engineer, I reflect my curiosity with same and different minded colleagues both on the national and international level on this platform. From being an ASCE student member to becoming a young professional, networking with fellow civil engineers supported me both professionally and personally and there is no better way to give back to others even on a virtual platform

 

Doug Cantrell, P.E., PMP,

 

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Doug Cantrell, P.E., PMP, Preservation and Repair Engineer

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

 To help share information, to discuss topics that are relevant to the industry, and to bring people together.

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

To ask a lot of questions, find potential solutions to problems you encounter, and take on new assignments (even if they may not interest you). 

Why did you become a civil engineer? 

I started out studying architecture in college. But I realized that I was more interested in the engineering aspect of design. After taking my first engineering class I knew this is what I wanted to do professionally. I was initially interested in building design, and started studying structural engineering. I fell in love with it, and have dedicated myself to civil engineering since.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

Being able to see my designs being built in the real world. It makes me feel accomplished, and that I am part of the solution to some of the challenges of the civil engineering industry. 

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

One of the first projects I worked on was designing steel repairs for the William Preston Lane Memorial (Bay) Bridge in Maryland. Having to inspect the areas was a challenge in itself, as there are lane closure restrictions. To design parts of such a huge suspension bridge that is used by thousands of people, when I didn't have a lot of experience at the time, was certainly challenging. But I am proud that I was able to work on such an iconic bridge at such a young age.

 

Kelly Farabee, P.E., PTOE

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

I did not get to where I am today on my own. I think contributing to ASCE Collaborate is a great way to encourage other engineers or aspiring engineers. I also find that reading others’ posts can help me consider other perspectives. I think it is important to have dialogue with other people in order to understand other ideas better.

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

Ask questions. Lots of questions.

Why did you become a civil engineer? 

My father was a mechanical engineer and always encouraged me to go into engineering as a child. Naturally, I didn’t really listen to my father. Eventually I settled on studying architecture at Clemson University. My brother planted the idea of pursuing a dual degree in architecture and civil engineering in my head. I ended up working on some research with one of the transportation/traffic professors and realized that I had an interest in traffic engineering – which I ended up pursuing in graduate school.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

I love the community of civil engineers. I also love working on traffic studies and working with clients to find solutions for their needs.

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

I work on a lot of smaller projects, primarily traffic studies. It seems like there is always some kind of challenge in every project. Sometimes the challenge is trying to figure out exactly what the client needs, or trying to help them understand the project process. Sometimes it is a challenge to figure out how to model reality. Other times the challenge is in trying to figure out the best solution.

Dr. Andres Guzman, ING., M.ASCE

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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.

Jameelah Ingram, P.E., M.ASCE

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

ASCE Collaborate is a tool to engage with civil engineers around the world. Contributing to ASCE Collaborate allows me to build relationships and share knowledge with other engineers. I also gain advice, new perspectives, and an opportunity to enhance my writing skills.

As we serve the public through civil engineering, the works we create serve us in return. Therefore, contributing to the civil engineering profession is essential, and I enjoy playing my part.

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

1) Join a Professional Association - Professional Associations offer ways to: engage in engineering outreach on a large scale and strengthen the pipeline of future engineers; develop connections with professionals locally and globally; and grow leadership skills.

2) Read Engineering Articles - Reading engineering articles is an excellent way to explore interests outside of the projects you are working on. The articles can give you a glimpse into other niches in the engineering industry. Online publications and industry magazines often provide insight for problems you are working to solve as well.

3) Ask Questions - If you reach an impasse in an engineering calculation, try asking questions. Prior to the conversation, be sure to do your research. Come prepared to show the ways in which you have already attempted to arrive at a solution.

Why did you become a civil engineer? 

I was inspired to study structural engineering by the infrastructure and architecture in my hometown of Chicago. I was captivated by soaring skyscrapers and beautiful bridges. My mother, who is a surreal artist, and father, a technical professional and U.S. Navy Veteran, greatly influenced my path. As a civil engineer, I also have the opportunity to help others reach the destinations most important to them.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

As a civil engineer, our projects are tangible. Our designs solve critical problems and create conveniences to improve quality of life. I enjoy the feeling of happiness that comes with seeing a project I have contributed to being constructed and ultimately used by the public.

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

The most challenging project I have ever completed was a new six span pedestrian bridge across a busy interstate with spans up to 173 feet (approx. 53 meters). It was challenging because it was a project full of “firsts” for me. It was the first pedestrian bridge, the first prestressed concrete bridge, and the first bridge on the East Coast of the United States I had ever designed. I had to learn new standards and software programs. I also collaborated with a new group of engineers for the project. The challenges made the completion of the project even more rewarding!

Dr. Jesse Kamm, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE

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

Engineering projects come in a wide variety. It’s important to know there are many experts within our community with specialized knowledge that are eager to engage and share expertise for those moments you need some focused advice. Newer engineers can tap into that resource through ASCE collaborate and ASCE Journals while more experienced engineers can contribute their valuable expertise into new areas of knowledge. Since no one is all-knowing, we need those intersections of finely tuned expertise to lead the profession into the future.

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

  1. Always consider “why” the project exists- Project stakeholders may be approaching decisions from very different perspectives and perhaps with competing goals of which you may not be aware.
  2. Evaluate solutions from the user’s/stakeholder’s perspective - It’s easy for engineers to see one solution as the best possible solution without seeing outside perspectives.
  3. Recognize your own biases (such as anchoring, availability heuristics, congruence bias, and many other cognitive bias) – Research has shown engineers (and people in general) make decisions in ways contrary to logic under very common scenarios. Learn when you may be experiencing such bias.
  4. Get the P.E. behind your name and find your niche in the marketplace. Don’t underestimate the value of the P.E. designation.

Why did you become a civil engineer? 

I love to create environments where people want to be. I believe there is an art to creating immersive environments, working within competing constraints, and using engineering to solve complex problems. Since my PhD and MS are within the construction and engineering management domain, I wouldn’t consider myself to be a civil engineer per se but as a construction engineering management professional I appreciate the unique contributions of all engineering disciplines. The world is a better place because of engineers.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

I enjoy creating the built environment and using technology and science to make things that were once only imagined.

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

The most challenging projects involve multiple stakeholders with competing interests and varying degrees of cooperation. As an engineering manager my job is to keep the money and the information flowing so all the moving parts end in the correct place. As I’ve progressed through the ranks my day-to-day activities become far less technical (which of course is why I fell in love with engineering in the first place) and now involve working with budgets, contracts, engineering legal issues, and people management. At times it feels those challenges are much more difficult than solving a technical challenge.

Mandeep Singh Kohli, CP, M.ASCE

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Mandeep Singh Kohli, CP, M.ASCE, Senior Engineer at Samsung Engineering  

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

   Engineering is not a very well defined science, it is part Science and part Art. What we learn in our school is just the basic building blocks, our main skill comes from doing the work and learning from others. One  

   can gain only a limited experience by doing things himself, but by collaborating with others and learning from other's expirience we can tap into their knowledge. This belief has always been my motivation in sharing knowledge    

   and it is this same reason why think it is important to contribute, for my own self development and the development of the entire community. 

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

   My advice would be to be patient and walk through your career’s initial days slowly so that you can grasp the fundamentals completely. The amount of efforts that you put in the initial years will pay dividend throughout your career. 

Why did you become a civil engineer? 

   I was always fascinated by mathematics and Science, so it was logical for me to choose engineering. Since i was open to any Hardcore engineering discipline, it had to be either Mechanical, Civil or Aeronautical and when it 

   came to choose i chose Civil Engineering.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

   Being able to see your work play out on the actual field is the best part of being a civil engineer. 

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

  The most challenging Project was my last project, which was the Engineering and Design for a grassroots Propane Dehydrogenation Plant in Alberta. I was the Area Lead and responsible for the design and checking for all of the 

  major and critical Structures in Our scope, out of those item was the reactor structure, which consisted of 4 more than 60 mt tall structures having Heavy Reactors at top and 3 similarly tall interconnected stair towers.

  That structure and its Foundation was in a way the culmination of my 10 years of engineering knowledge. It had several challenges, not the least of which was maintaining the drift at top to less than 2”. Having done that and   

  seeing how it stands today is one of my proudest achievements. 

Oanh Le, AFF.M.ASCE

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Oanh Le, AFF.M.ASCE

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

I believe ASCE Collaborate is a great opportunity to connect with like-minded persons and in order to have a successful profession that spreads its branches, around the world, there needs to be a way to have a space to share our thoughts and ideas with one another to advance our profession and contribute to collectively and to our communities that we aim to benefit. 

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

I am not entirely equipped to answer this question, but having a little of background in this profession, I think the best advice that I can give, particularly from people who are just starting in this profession is admitting that you know nothing and then asking what you can do to know something. A famous quote by Socrates is, “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.” Every early entry level engineer has an advantage in admitting that there is something they don’t know and usually no one will think anything wrong of it. 

Why did you become a civil engineer? 

I started out as an architecture major and I switched over to civil engineering because I found this major to be more concrete in terms of realizing a project and building it. 

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

I enjoy the opportunity to have a role in not only witnessing projects become a reality but to also be a part of projects that benefit communities.

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

The most challenging project that I constantly work on is people so it’s not completed. I hope I am not only person who relates to this.

Paul Lee, P.E., M.ASCE

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

I would tell them to definitely get involved with a professional organization. Whether it is ASCE, AAa/e, EWB, or Toastmasters there are dozens of groups out there. Your career is more than just your time in the office. It’s about networking and continued growth technically and professionally. Plus, it’s fun and full of great people.

Why did you become a civil engineer?

I became a civil engineer to make a positive impact on the world. I discovered that as a civil engineer I can make meaningful changes by tackling challenges like climate change. 

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

That part I love most about being a civil engineer is the variety of opportunities we have. As a civil engineer we’re exposed to almost every aspect of infrastructure. We get involved with the financing, politics, and engineering and not to mention all the other engineering disciplines that get roped into large scale projects. I find the ability to rally different groups of people together for a project the coolest part of being a civil engineer.

Danielle Schroeder, EIT, A.M.ASCE

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

Civil engineering is arguably the oldest engineering discipline as well as one the most robust. As such, is it important for us to seek out diverse experiences throughout all phases of a project. As ASCE’s 2019 President, Robin Kemper, recently stated “Our field depends on diversity and inclusion because diverse teams with diverse thinking lead to creative and innovative ideas and better solutions to civil engineering problems.” With resources like ASCE Collaborate, it is easier than ever to be connected to other civil engineers across the world to share advice and reach our full potential as engineers and leaders!

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

I still consider myself as an early career professional, but I have learned so much since graduating in 2017. The best advice I can give any early career professional, is be willing to step out of your comfort zone and take on new tasks with an open mind. An engineering education is excellent for teaching you critical thinking skills and how to break down a problem, but you will still need to learn about your chosen field through experience at your job. Learning does not end with school.

For advice about starting your first job, I recommend reading the following article where I along with other ASCE members share extensive advice on the topic: https://news.asce.org/tips-for-starting-your-first-civil-engineering-job/

Why did you become a civil engineer? 

I became an engineer because I wanted to focus on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of our current infrastructure, as it is the backbone of America. In my current job, I do just that as my focus is in bridge retrofit, reconstruction, and inspection. I enjoying making a difference - in my community, in my profession, and for humanity in general which is what the engineering profession is all about.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

As a Civil Engineer, I enjoy that every day I am tasked with a different problem to find a solution to. I also greatly enjoy paying it forward and frequently volunteer at outreach events to teach kids as young as kindergarten how awesome my profession is. Through my job, I focus on rehabilitating the physical structures of our past and through my outreach volunteering, I get the opportunity to inspire the minds of our future.

Heidi Wallace, EI, P.E., M.ASCE

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Heidi Wallace, EI, P.E., M.ASCE

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

When we share ideas in a way that is receptive to feedback, we grow both ourselves and our community of engineers. Maybe someone has already found a solution to something that you're struggling with. Maybe you have a perspective on a topic that others can use to broaden their outlook. Maybe no one has a full solution but together we can bring our individual perspectives together to find the next steps. When our ideas and perspectives remain within our little bubbles, we limit our ability to find collaborative solutions that best serve our communities and our profession.

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

Don't just ask about the "what" but also the "why" behind what you are designing. For example, if you just ask what pipe material you need for this waterline project and don't ask why, you'll have to ask every single time. When you start to understand the reason behind the design choices, it grows your ability to "think like an engineer."

Why did you become a civil engineer? 

Civil engineering seemed like the intersection of several of my interests in high school: math/science, community service, and communication. When I was thinking about studying engineering, I went to an engineering camp at a university to learn more about the different options within engineering. One of the draws of civil for me was that I didn't have to have a masters right away to go into the workforce. Another benefit was that civil engineering doesn't restrict where you can live since civil engineers are needed everywhere.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

One of my favorite things about being a civil engineer is seeing the positive impact made in our community through our projects. Whether it is something as simple as streetscaping in downtown or the redevelopment of a historic building for recovery housing to combat mental health struggles and homelesness, it is rewarding to be part of the team that made these projects come to life.

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed?

My most challenging project so far was probably an apartment project in an existing subdivision. We had to balance the stoop height requirements from the form-based code, meeting code for accessibility, having garages along the back side, maintaining positive drainage, and the roads around the lot were already installed. We ended up with around 25 finish floor elevations across the development in order to meet all the requirements and constraints. It took a lot of working and reworking to find a solution that satisfied both the code requirements and the needs of the developer.

 

Mitchell Winkler, P.E., R.ENG, M.ASCE

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

The opportunity is twofold: 1) to help others develop their professional skills by sharing experience and to 2) create insight into challenging problems that can help others achieve their goals.

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

With the caveat that I’ve spent large part of my career outside of mainstream civil engineering, my advice to those early in their careers is to develop a deep technical competency before broadening.

Why did you become a civil engineer?  

I was attracted to civil engineering by the types of problems that civil engineers solve.

What do you enjoy most about being a civil engineer?

Being able to look at building or piece of infrastructure and having insight into how it was designed and constructed.

What is the most challenging project you have ever completed? 

Leading a multicompany team to achieve a common objective.  

*** Interested in being an ASCE Collaborate Topic Moderator? Contact Tirza Austin at taustin@asce.org.