April 2019 – Presidents Message

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San Jose Branch President’s Message
By Barton Ching, P.E. M.ASCE

The San Jose Branch was founded 64 years ago in 1955 by two directors, Stanley Kocal (President) and Myron Jacobs (Secretary/Treasurer). Over the decades the size of the leadership team has grown and so has the value that we bring to our members. I want to thank our board members Deric Weis (Past President), Alana Guzzetta (Vice President), Diana Lin (Secretary), Peter Park (Treasurer), and Octavio Duran (Assistant Treasurer). I also want to give a special thanks to our Scholarship Chair – Chuck Anderson, Honorary Board Advisor – Steve Sherman, Younger Member Forum President – Kari Nelson, and Honorary Monterey Officers – Philip Edwards and Shaun Mehl.

This is my fifth year serving on the ASCE SJ Branch and the friendships that I’ve formed and personal and professional connections I’ve made with my fellow ASCE members have made it an incredibly rewarding experience. One question I always have on the top of my mind is, “What are we doing to bring value to our members?” As president, I’ve tried to approach our activities this year with that topic in mind.

The San Jose Branch regularly partners with the San Jose Younger Member Forum (YMF), American Public Works Association, South Bay Transportation Officials Association, San Francisco Geo-Institute, and Environment and Water Resources Institute on many joint events throughout the year hosting lunches, picnics, and dinners with informative presentations relating to civil and environmental engineering. SJ Branch and YMF proudly collaborate with Doug Taylor, ASCE Region 9 Disaster Response & Preparedness Chair, to plan and host Safety Assessment Program (SAP) trainings every 2-3 years. If interested, please keep an eye out for an announcement about an upcoming training in early Spring!

Our headline event is our annual student awards program which is open to CEE students at Stanford, Santa Clara, and San Jose State Universities. The board collaborates with all three ASCE student chapters to organize and host a dinner banquet at one of the universities on a rotating basis. Students submit one-page essays which are graded by the board and scholarship awards are distributed to students based on merit. The banquet will be hosted at Santa Clara University near the end of April at the Adobe Lodge. This program would not be possible without generous financial contributions from local professionals and engineering firms.

Although ASCE is a large international organization with over 150,000 members worldwide, the value of membership is really what we put into the organization at the grassroots level and the effort we make to connect with our local branches, local student chapters, local YMF, and local affiliated STEM organizations. There are a lot of exciting things coming up. San Jose State University is hosting the ASCE Mid-PAC this April and San Francisco & San Jose YMF are jointly hosting the Western Region Younger Member Conference in 2020. I hope that you will consider attending a local ASCE event to give back, gain value, and make a connection.


Redwood Branch President’s Message
By Andrew Ferrol, P.E. M.ASCE

The Redwood Empire Branch is coming off another successful Engineer’s Week Banquet. With the help of the banquet planning committee, which included branch officers from the Redwood Empire Branch of ASCE and the North Coast Chapter of ACEC, we were able to navigate smoothly through a busy night. This year we saw an increase in corporate sponsorship compared to last year. Thanks to our corporate sponsors, we could keep ticket pricing to an affordable cost to members and maintain our support for scholarships awarded to students pursuing Civil Engineering at Santa Rosa Junior College. Between the North Coast Chapter of ACEC and the Redwood Empire Branch of ASCE we were able to award $7,500 in scholarships among worthy student recipients. The greatest take away for me for this event was participating on the Scholarship Interview committee and learning of each applicant’s background and story for pursuing an education and career in Civil Engineering. At the conclusion of the interview process we did not find any of the applicants not worthy of the scholarship award. These students truly exemplify the theme of Engineer’s Week that “Engineers: Invent Amazing!”

The Redwood Empire Branch continues to hold monthly luncheons for our branch membership. Each Luncheon represents another opportunity to network with other local engineer’s and learn of new technologies, regulations, and local projects from our featured speakers. Previous topics have included High Strength Geogrids for Slope Reinforcement, Wastewater Ponds, and Restoring Water Quality in the aftermath of the Tubbs Fire. Our monthly Luncheons continue to draw great turnouts and attract interest among the many disciplines of Civil Engineering.

The Redwood Empire Branch is made up of Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino counties. I grew up in the Redwood Empire and am proud to represent the Civil Engineering community of the Redwood Empire. In the 4 years I have spent serving on the Redwood Empire Branch leadership board we have seen a number of challenges brought forward through natural disasters from wildfires to flooding. In the face of challenges, the Redwood Empire has remained resilient and have risen above to rebuild and recover. It is inspiring to me to witness this resiliency from my community and I am honored to have a hand working to find solutions and offer assistance to rebuilding and overcoming these disasters. This brings me back to one of the reasons I wanted to become a civil engineer. I became a civil engineer because I wanted to help design and construct the things that make all the difference to everyday life.

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