Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  How to serve on a committee

    Posted 01-19-2022 10:40 AM
    Committees are ever present in our profession.  Within our companies, municipalities, and even ASCE it is often up to committees to craft new policies and tackle tough issues (task forces).  Serving on a committee is not only a great resume booster, but can provide much experience beyond your daily practice.  What committee do you serve?  What are some recommendations on ways that members can best serve their committees and gain experience in the process?  What are some pitfalls than committees encounter and how can they be avoided?

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    Chad Morrison P.E., F.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 2.  RE: How to serve on a committee

    Posted 01-20-2022 02:07 PM
    What committee do you serve?
    Hello, thank you for bringing up this great discussion, first of all, I never ever have been an officer positions before but I wish I have those moments in the future. That's why with that, I also wanted to ask as a no experience person who wants to get develop how we can serve in the committee?

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    Llala Chrishaye Ocampo S.M.ASCE
    Student
    City of General Trias Cavite
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  • 3.  RE: How to serve on a committee

    Posted 01-20-2022 11:14 PM

    I would go a step further and say that committees are essential to our industry. Good guidelines, codes and standards require a diverse range of inputs as well as informed and considered discussion. Committees provide the backbone of the collaborative and deliberative process where this to take place. Furthermore, the consensus building that takes places in committees is mission critical for building and maintaining trust with the public. A downside to committees from my experience is that they can easily devolve into 'talk shops' or drift due to lack of focus and absence of effective leadership, negating their ability to get things done and leading frustration and burn out. Committee success and fun in my experience comes when there is a clear and shared view of the problem being solved and what defines success, a deliberate and well-considered work process, a doable plan, and everyone pulls their own weight. Diversity of membership is also key. 



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    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
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  • 4.  RE: How to serve on a committee

    Posted 01-24-2022 10:48 AM
    I have served on a number of standing committees and task committees in EWRI and COPRI and found them to be excellent ways to contribute and grow professionally. To those wishing to serve, I suggest looking at the ASCE Institute web pages and searching for committees in which you have an interest or knowledge. Write to the chair of the committee, volunteering to serve in any suitable capacity. Once appointed, be sure you make an active contribution and you will be called upon for more. Too many many volunteers aren't able to make the necessary time commitment and fail to contribute.
    The biggest obstacle to participation is travel. The Institutes can't afford to pay many members' travels expenses, so attendance at face-to-face meetings is limited to a handful. The pandemic has had one beneficial impact -- forcing virtual meetings. They aren't as fruitful as  in-person but they are good enough to justify the savings in time and money. Virtual meetings also hugely expand potential membership to folks like me, who won't or can't travel.

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    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
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  • 5.  RE: How to serve on a committee

    Posted 07-27-2022 10:45 AM
    I wanted to revisit this topic as we get back to in-person activities.  Has your committee been more or less productive within the last 2 years?  Has widespread acceptance of virtual meetings helped committees connect better and more frequently?  Or has lack of in-person meetings hindered goals?

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    Chad Morrison P.E., F.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 6.  RE: How to serve on a committee

    Posted 07-28-2022 12:13 PM
    I find the virtual meetings to be very productive and really essential to wider access. I recommend monthly virtual meetings. They can be cancelled if nothing significant has happened that month. If nothing has happened in 2 months, then the committee isn't working. One key to success is committee leadership that is able to devote time and energy to making things happen.

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    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
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  • 7.  RE: How to serve on a committee

    Posted 07-29-2022 09:56 AM
    I think committees are essential for advancing the profession. Accentuating the positive, they bring together a broad and diverse set of knowledge, experience, and perspective - essential for addressing challenges and making good decisions. This diversity should absolutely include younger / new members who can offer fresh perspective and ask questions. I think a challenge for committees - or any volunteer organization for that matter - is getting the right and needed things done in a timebound manner. I think anyone joining a committee has to be committed to seeing the committee through and doing their share of the work. Furthermore, I think the aspect of building one's resume should be secondary. It's a nice outcome. As to how to drive performance, the use of scorecards might be considered.

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    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
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  • 8.  RE: How to serve on a committee

    Posted 07-30-2022 09:58 AM
    Mitch, I really like the idea of a scorecard for committees. Finding the right metrics might be difficult. An EWRI staffer once told me that the only acceptable committee products were those that generated income for the society. That's not the proper approach for a professional society. Some possible metrics: papers and reports completed, webinars presented, conferences and sessions sponsored, ...

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    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
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  • 9.  RE: How to serve on a committee

    Posted 22 days ago
    Thanks for this chat Chad!

    Q. "What are some recommendations on ways that members can best serve their committees and gain experience in the process?"

    A. Reach out to women and other traditionally under-represented peoples that have been under-represented * for far too long.

    Please don't interpret the remark as accusatory.

    The past, is  past. The future starts again tomorrow.

    Cheers,
    Bill
    * Wouldn't it be nice to invite participants from the same discipline in other countries?
    What might we learn from each other?​

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    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
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  • 10.  RE: How to serve on a committee

    Posted 22 days ago
    This is an excellent suggestion, Bill. The COPRI Waterways and Navigation Committees have long included both women and international colleagues. They have definitely improved the committees' work. Women have proved to be much more reliable than men in meeting their committee commitments. Our international members, mainly European, bring valued perspectives and experiences to the table; although meetings are sometimes a challenge. Even virtual meetings run into time difference difficulties, but the benefits outweigh the problems.

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    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
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