This past month we attended the annual Younger Members’ Forum ASCE conference in Hawaii. As the Utah Sections’ new Webmaster, being a committee member certainly has its perks. I’d encourage those with an interest in serving their communities and becoming responsible members to society, to enroll in their local ASCE chapters, and at the very least be a member, if being a committee member is too large a step at this present time.
The Conference was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which, thanks to the app launched by Hawaii YMF, it was easy to navigate around from place to place. Outside the main conference area, exhibits lined the breakout area, where refreshments were available. This space made it easy for attendees to network with one another between sessions. Leadership presentations from Section and Region leaders were presented throughout the day. One of these included a presentation on 'Developing a Culture of Aloha in the way we work'. This session was one that was not to be missed. As someone who has never learned much about Hawaiian Culture, I genuinely learned many cool things, such as how Iokahi (Unity), Kuleana (responsibility and accountability), and malama (care) contibute to creating an environment of full engagement and commitment to accomplishing the mission of your team.
The presentation on Empathy was another favorite among attendees. This session discussed the importance of developing not only your technical skills, but your softer skills, helping us to succeed in our jobs, with our peers and with our clients. Learning what empathy means in your team environment can make you a better team player, as you learn to relate to others on an emotional level. Beyond the inspirational sessions, business meetings, and Q&A panels, we partook in technical tours, from the Kunia Country Farm to the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. The technical tours were all voluntary and quite frankly, personally, I was very glad they were. Networking, presentations, and then networking some more with a few drinks, can be quite exhausting after a while, and so an afternoon break was much needed.
Being a part of your local chapter enables you to meet likeminded people and also learn about your differences. For instance, I know why I enjoy working as a civil engineer, for me it comes from the passion of planning and drawing, which as a child I had. My career has presented before me an array of different challenges which has always sent me on a tangent, usually to a path that was unexpected to be taken. Reeling in that passion and seeing it light up individuals around me was something I witnessed during this trip to Hawaii. As an observant person of others behavior and motives I learnt that the people fronting the ASCE are so passionate about what they do that their common goal really is to make the world a better place. That gave me a lot of encouragement to be a part of that goal, using the skills I have as a civil engineer to make that happen. That was my takeaway from the 2019 conference, and one which I hope that by encouraging others to attend future conferences, others can experience too.