Education outreach and industry involvement have always been passions for me. I have had plenty of experience to see its benefits, having volunteered with students and participated in education outreach through the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for the past 7 years!
Before moving to North Carolina to work for Mead & Hunt in October 2019, I lived and worked in Dallas, Texas where I was very involved in education outreach for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Dallas Branch. I spoke to several K-12 classes about civil engineering, hosted a booth promoting civil engineering at elementary school career fairs, helped co-host a district-wide bridge building contest for K-12 students with Dallas Independent School District (ISD) for several years, acted as the ASCE student chapter advisor at my alumna Southern Methodist University (Pony Up!) for several years, and supported a local high school’s civil engineering club by presenting and organizing other presenters on various routes within the civil engineering field.
I received several awards from the ASCE Dallas Branch during my time with the organization, including the ASCE Younger Member in Community Activities Award, Outstanding Practitioner Advisor Award, and ASCE Multi-Region Leadership Conference Outstanding Community Volunteer. While these awards were nice, the greater reward was the feeling of helping people become engaged and excited about an industry I love.
After moving to North Carolina, I continued to be involved in education outreach. I joined the local ASCE branch and have been a co-advisor for the Duke ASCE student chapter. As a co-advisor, I have given presentations (both in-person and virtually) explaining ASCE to the new students and offering a brief overview of civil engineering as a professional. In February 2020 we assembled a panel of engineers in different disciplines and told the students about our career paths, “A Day in the Life” description of our work day, things we wish we knew as students, and other pieces of advice. The panel discussion was followed by an informal Q&A and one-on-one discussions with students. In the fall of 2020, we offered a resume review event in preparation of the fall virtual career fairs.
In fall 2020, I also joined the ASCE North Carolina Eastern Branch Mentoring Program and had two mentees from the Civil Engineering department at Duke University. The ASCE Mentor Program was loosely organized to allow the mentor/mentee pairs to make the program work in whatever way was best for them. I met with each of my mentees individually over Zoom, and frequency depended on the mentee’s interest and availability. Our conversations began with the goals we had in mind for the mentoring program. We then covered topics such as my career path, what courses I took in college that were beneficial upon graduation, what work and class experience the mentees have, how COVID-19 has impacted our school/work life, and early career advice. To wrap up the Mentor Program, we discussed if the mentee’s goals or intended career path had changed, and agreed to continue the relationship beyond the ASCE Mentor Program.
Education outreach and industry involvement is vital if we want to see the engineering industry—and by proxy, our communities—continue to thrive. This type of outreach serves to strengthen our industry and communities by reaching students who may not have considered a career in engineering previously, or who may be struggling to find their place. There are many ways to get involved if you look around—and the benefits are so worth it.