Have you ever wondered about what happens to your annual ASCE dues? Have you thought about getting more involved in ASCE but were not sure how to get started? Have you looked at our website and still wanted more information? We recently surveyed local members and learned that many of you do have questions and also that you read this newsletter.
Part of your annual ASCE dues, about 10 percent, comes back to the local section and is budgeted to support section meetings, outreach activities, the Younger Members group, technical committees, and student chapters. Attending one of the monthly section meetings is an easy way to have some involvement, and it is very easy to sign up through our website. The cost for us to host a monthly section dinner meeting is often more than we charge the attendees; for example, we subsidized the cost to attend the April section meeting held at the Science Museum and the January section meeting was essentially free for members.
Technical committees can request a budget from the Board and get reimbursed for some expenses. We want to improve the performance and participation of the technical committees, some of which may evolve to become effectively a committee of one person unless new members are recruited. Each technical committee is entirely a grass-roots effort, which means it is what you make of it, and you are needed. Right now the Transportation committee and Report Card committee are very active, and the YMG has activities almost every month. The Structural committee and Geotechnical committee are also very active. On the other hand, the History and Heritage committee is in need of a person to take the lead as chair since Melanie moved out of the state. In my experience what it takes for a successful technical committee is a chair, a co-chair (those positions look good on a resume),
and a core of a few interested committee members to come up with ideas and organize some activities for yourselves. Some examples of typical activities are to plan/socialize over a beer or coffee, conduct a technical tour for a small group, meet for lunch or after work with a technical presentation, or plan a joint event with YMG or a student chapter (we have student chapters at the U of M, Mankato, and St. Thomas). The committee chair has to be willing to compile a contact list and invite people to participate. And be willing to keep trying! The section Board can help the committee leader with occasional email blasts or a phone list for a text blast. If you want to get involved, the current committee chairs are listed on our web site at www.ascemn.org or you can contact a Board member if you do not hear back from the committee contact.
If you think you might be interested in participating on the section Board of Directors, talk to any of the current Board members. The Board is composed of four director positions with a 2-year commitment (Outreach, Awards, Events, andCommunications), and five executive positions starting with two years as secretary or treasurer, then moving to one yearas president-elect, president, and past-president (essentially a 5-year commitment). There is no paid staff. The Board has monthly business meetings and an annual all-day planning meeting in July where the annual budget is set. Elections take place in late summer or early fall. There are opportunities for Board members to travel to Society conferences, such as the ASCE national convention and several ASCE leadership training events. My experience with ASCE has been much richer because of the great people I have met and worked with on the committees and the Board.