May 2018 – President’s Message

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President’s Message
by Elizabeth Z. Bialek, PE. SF Section President

Spring is in the air, and with it, our workload may be picking up with the beginning of the construction season and an overall increase in civil engineering work throughout the San Francisco Section.

Likewise, there have been many activities in the San Francisco section. The San Francisco Section hosted the ASCE Region 9 California Infrastructure Symposium and Awards Dinner on Friday, March 23. This year’s theme was “Keeping Dreams Big – Exceeding Future Infrastructure Needs” and featured two tracks of presentations in the areas of water and transportations, along with keynote speakers. Please see this month’s newsletter for an article on the event by Symposium Chair and SF Section Past President, Lorraine Htoo, P.E., M. ASCE.

As civil engineers, we have always played an important role in our nation’s infrastructure. Moving ahead, our technical and critical thinking skills will be needed to face the challenges of renewing our aging infrastructure, with the limited funds available to us through public and private funding sources. It will take innovative approaches to determining not just the right solution for the given “problem”, but the right project with respect to the needs of adjacent communities and the projects interrelationship with other sectors of infrastructure. So how can you get involved?

One great way is by joining ASCE’s “Grand Challenge”. The Grand Challenge asks all civil engineers to join the solution to 1) Significantly enhance the performance and value of infrastructure projects over their life cycles by 2025 and 2) Foster the optimization of infrastructure investments for society. On a broad level, the Grand Challenge proposes that “to reach this goal, the profession must influence major policy changes and infrastructure funding levels, while challenging civil engineers to focus on innovation, rethink life cycle costs, and drive transformational change—from planning to design to delivery.” See this month’s article on the “ASCE Region 9 Grand Challenge Task Committee Update (Risk and Innovation)” by Jim Frost, P.E., M. ASCE, ASCE Region 9 Governor from the San Diego Section and Chair, ASCE Region 9 Grand Challenge Task Committee. Also, consider expanding your skills in project evaluation through the Infrastructure for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Envision Rating System, which is being updated to its third version this year. Get more involved with the San Francisco Section’s Sustainability committee, chaired by Rachael Keish, PE, QISP, QSD/P, CGP & IGP ToR, ENV SP, ISI Verifier. See the newsletter for more information.

Another great way to get involved in Infrastructure Advocacy is by joining ASCE Region 9’s effort to prepare a statewide Infrastructure Report Card. Many of you may be familiar with ASCE’s National Report Card, provides a snapshot of the condition of performance of American Infrastructure in the form of a report card. The Report Card is a helpful tool for raising awareness about our profession’s work to build and maintain the nation’s infrastructure and highlights the needed investments to maintain and improve our systems. The statewide effort will mirror the National Report card, focusing on specific issues and infrastructure needs in our region. Volunteers are still needed. Your expertise as engineers is needed to make a complete assessment of our ports, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy systems, roads, railway, schools, solid waste, transit, wastewater and all areas of infrastructure. Your advocacy is also needed to get the word out about infrastructure funding needs, so that the message is heard by policy makers and legislators. If you are interested in assisting with this effort, contact CARC Chair, Tony Akel at

In September, the San Francisco Section held its Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner, where several projects and outstanding individuals in the Section were recognized for their excellence. These winners advanced as nominees for Region 9 awards, and winners will be announced soon. Awards will be presented at the 12th Annual ASCE Region 9 California Infrastructure Symposium, which will take place on Friday, March 23, 2018 at the Wilsey Center, located in the War Memorial Building in San Francisco. Save the date and join us for the full-day symposium, which will include a Water Track and a Transportation Track featuring prominent speakers in those areas, along with several keynote presentations.

On that note, I want to wish you all the best in this coming season. Please join us for our annual Giant’s baseball game on Friday, May 18th. See the newsletter and check your email for information on tickets. Please also come out to the various Branch and Institute meetings located throughout the San Francisco Section, from the North Coast and Redwood Empire to Fresno, for an opportunity to network with fellow professionals and to hear about the latest developments in your area of practice of civil engineering.

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