President’s Address

I would say “Welcome to the spring 2018 issue of the ASCE Wisconsin Section Newsletter,” but I’m not sure the weather has been cooperating recently to make that statement! Only in Wisconsin do I have the air conditioning on one day just to turn on the heat the following…

But with spring comes construction season! Unfortunately for me, half of my daily commute seems to be under construction. Fortunately for me, my son loves to watch those big yellow machines move soil around, which warms my civil engineering heart! I optimistically hope he continues to have a passion for building and constructing things. What are some ways to keep kids interested, engaged, and inspired in civil engineering? Besides taking out a second mortgage for LEGO sets, I believe the answer is outreach, which will be the focus of this

Why should kids be introduced to STEM (particularly Engineering) at an early age? According to this extensive study, published by the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, incorporating engineering education in K-12 schools can result in the following potential benefits:

  • Improved learning and achievement in science and mathematics
  • Increased awareness of engineering and the work of engineers
  • Understanding of and ability to engage in engineering design
  • Interest in pursuing engineering as a career
  • increased technological literacy

From my personal experience, I did not know what an engineer really did until near the end college. Throughout middle and high school, all the aptitude testing results said I should become an engineer of some sort because science and mathematics were my strongest subjects. The dismal English and Reading scores from my ACT testing also pushed me into a more analytic field. Therefore, I truly believe implementing pre-college outreach would build interest in engineering careers and better inform the general population about the essential role of civil engineering in society.

ASCE has also taken this stance and has several outreach programs and resources available for members. Did you know ASCE also has a catalogue of subsidized/free outreach supplies to support members working with K-12 students? These supplies include age-appropriate handouts, brochures, and turn-key career fair kits. If you are interested in wanting to volunteer or mentor at a local school, please contact your local Branch to see if they already have a program established.

From a Section level, we are proud to announce that we are going to send a free copy of the ream Big Film to every middle school in the Wisconsin Section geographic region. This toolkit will contain the full-feature film, complete teacher’s guide, companion videos, and downloadable files for classroom use. We hope this film will excite and motivate students about STEM subjects.

Finally, I’d like to take this time to recognize and congratulate the Southeast Branch for their focus on pre-college outreach, particularly for its Younger Member Group hosting the annual STEM Expo each year and volunteering their efforts at other STEM-related functions.

Hope to see some of you at the upcoming Annual Meeting on September 21, 2018 at the Fox Cities Exposition Center in Appleton!

Justin R. Bilskemper, P.E., M.ASCE

*May 2018 President’s Message

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American Society of Civil Engineers: Wisconsin Section