Reaching Out To Young Members

Construction Institute Regional Forum: Reaching Out to Young Members

By Larry J. Smith, P.E, CCM, F.ASCE
President-Elect, Sacramento Section
Chair, Sacramento Section Construction Institute
Governor, ASCE Construction Institute

One of the Construction Institutes (CI’s) goals is to facilitate increased collaboration amongst all individuals working within the construction industry. In response to the challenges the construction industry is facing in retaining young engineers, and the possibility of losing institutional knowledge and experience when leaders retire, CI’s Younger Members Directorate created a comprehensive program allowing those just entering the industry to connect with leaders in order to refine their skills on the job.

 On January 15 – 16, 2009 five Sacramento Section Construction Institute members attended the CI Regional Forum in Los Angeles, CA to “Meet the Leaders” and heard about their concerns and struggles as they shared them with an audience of approximately 50 young engineers and industry professionals attending this event. The leaders identified traits of successful leadership, such as flexibility, the ability to motivate people and the ability to make decisions. Attendees were reminded of the many leadership opportunities available to all members through ASCE Section, Branch and Institute involvement.

 Attendees later networked with the leaders and attended a project site tour to witness the 66 story Ritz-Carlton Residences under construction. As the tour ended, attendees enjoyed continuing the networking at Lucky Strike at LA Live. The young member’s directorate arranged for a private party at the VIP Luxe suite.

 The Regional Forum was organized and hosted by the CI Younger Members Directorate. This event was designed to provide multi-generational dialogue about the state of the construction industry. CI’s Younger Member Directorate is led by five young professionals who are rapidly becoming great leaders. Jon Balzer presented how his engineering skills from college were being applied to day-to-day construction tasks and successful project completions.

 Stephen Dale, Young Members Directorate Chair, provided an outstanding presentation on the “Pitfalls of Emails and Field Journals.” His real life experience from recent contract dispute litigation proved the importance of implementing a document control program for contractors, owners and construction managers. Robert D’Onofrio presented his expertise in schedule delay analysis using case studies from Cornell University. Jackie Borman provided the audience with her experience with recent changes in the Professional Engineer exam along with a detailed bibliography of references for those preparing to take the PE exam.

 The second day of the forum featured speaker’s topics from the Construction Institute’s Claims Avoidance and Resolution Committee. Mr. Robert Frentzel described how Wall Street’s problems are Main Street’s problems, and the impact that the financial crisis is having on the construction industry. Mr. Christian Burger provided updates on the use of Building Information Modeling technology for decision making by the construction industry, along with how to use technology to reduce project risk. Mr. William Scott presented strategies to improve the request for information process and how to establish a communication plan as a means for dispute resolution and claims avoidance. ASCE CI Governor William Spragins concluded the day’s presentations with collective insights on how the timely resolution of issues promotes trust on design and construction projects.

 The 2009 Regional Forum was a great success due to the volunteer efforts of the Construction Institute Young Members Directorate and the ASCE Young Members Forum from the Metro Los Angeles Branch. The event concluded with volunteers sharing lessons learned and reviewing feedback from all attendees. Similar events are being planned in the future as the success of our outreach program spreads throughout the ASCE community.