President’s Address

Time does not stand still for any of us, and as my term as President of the Wisconsin Section draws to a close, I reflect on the past year and realize that life is all about experiences, inspired by the people we meet and the stories we create along the way. The ASCE Wisconsin Section Board and Committee Members, my employer, MSA Professional Services, and colleagues have helped me professionally bind my life with purpose and add another chapter to my life story. Dr. Seuss said it best, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

From the time we start as young engineers to the time we make our first proposal to a client, we are telling stories of how we did the work previously, how the industry is changing, what we know of our competitors, and why we can be trusted as engineers. When we recruit, we tell candidates what we are looking for, and paint a picture of what their life and career will be like if they join us. When we make recommendations, we pull together all the data, interviews, benchmarks, industry trends, hypotheses, and insights into a cohesive narrative. We are constantly creating and telling stories.

Many times stories are derived from sacrifice. Very possibly, experiences that have the most value to us are the things that we worked hardest to achieve or adverse situations that we overcame. The projects that required us to invest our head, heart, and hands are the ones for which we are most proud. When we come across people that challenge us, we learn from them too. These experiences make us better engineers. Tough times make us stronger. “If you are going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

As I stated in my opening address to the Section in September of 2015, we are in a relationship-based business and I believe the following seven statements help build the relationships that define our purpose as engineers and create the stories of our lives:

  1. Live by your beliefs and values. Place significant value on being a person of high integrity and in earning the trust and respect of others. Live with a clear conscience and spend more time listening to their inner voice than being influenced by others.
  2. Set priorities. People who live a life of purpose identify those activities that matter most to them and spend the majority of their time and effort in those areas.
  3. Follow your passion. Live a life of purpose and wake up each morning eager to face the new day. Put your heart into everything you do, and feel that you’re personally making a difference.
  4.  Achieve balance. Put your heart into your career and into building relationships with colleagues, friends, and family while reserving adequate time to satisfy your personal needs. Achieving balance means living up to one’s potential in all facets of life.
  5. Feel content. Live a life with inner peace. Be satisfied with what you have and who you are. The grass is greener on your own side of the fence.
  6. Make a difference. Make a meaningful difference in someone else’s life. Do things for others without expectation of personal gain, serve as exemplary role models, and gain as much satisfaction witnessing the success of others as witnessing your own.
  7. Live in the moment. Cherish every moment and live life without regret. Take joy in the experiences that life gives.

It is with great pleasure I welcome Peter Nilles as the incoming president of our organization. He is not only knowledgeable about ASCE, he is a talented leader. I look forward to seeing everyone at the annual conference in Lake Geneva on September 16, 2016. We will continue to provide affordable networking and continuing-education opportunities. If you have stepped up in the past, we thank you. If you have not yet, now is the time because the Wisconsin section is always seeking volunteer help. I hope that in the months ahead each member will find a way to serve this valuable organization that works hard to serve you.

Dan Borchardt, P.E., M.ASCE

*August 2016 President’s Message

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American Society of Civil Engineers: Wisconsin Section