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RE: Is ASCE Competing Against Us?

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Scott & Bill:

As a current member of the ASCE Board of Direction, I can personally attest that the second rule of ASCE conduct is "Thou shall not compete with the ASCE members and their employers."  [The first rule, of course, is "Thou shall not violate the ASCE Code of Ethics."]  This policy, more than any other, is why the ASCE Board voted to dissolve the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF) last January.  In fact, I was one of the three directors assigned to write the report that led to that decision.

>From time to time, various public agencies ask ASCE to lead independent, third party reviews of substantial civil engineering issues.  The first such review might have been in 1872, involving the management of the design and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Some recent examples include the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, and the failure of the levees in New Orleans.  The Dulles Metrorail Tunnel is merely the most recent such request.  

ASCE responds to these requests by putting together volunteer panels of nationally and internationally recognized experts, providing staff resources to support their activities, and facilitating their meetings, presentations, and publications.  The experts are individuals, not companies.  They work as volunteers with expenses partially reimbursed.  The nominal costs of the independent reviews varies based on the circumstances involved and the requesting agencies are billed for these costs.

Volunteer service as a professional engineer is a rewarding endeavor in many ways, but not financially.  It can also be addictive.  Since last October, I have spent an average of 3 days/week and 3 trips/month on ASCE business.  In return, I receive no compensation beyond partial reimbursement for travel expenses.  I am grateful for having a family and an employer that will tolerate this for the next three years.  It also explains why the SEAINT Listserv is no longer distracted with my off-topic and politically incorrect posts.

It is easy for a design engineer to sit at his/her computer and criticize the nonprofit organizations that serve the needs of engineers.  It is quite another thing to get actively involved with one or more of these organizations.  Such involvement can greatly alter an engineer's perspective.

Now I must sign off.  Seven emails have arrived from ASCE while I was typing this message.

Best regards,

Stan R. Caldwell, P.E., F.ASCE, F.AEI
ASCE Technical Region Director
President, Building Security Council
Vice President, Halff Associates
Dallas, Texas


-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2006 12:30 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Is ASCE Competing Against Us?


You hit on something that was "buzzing" in the back of my head during this thread...there is nothing in that press statement that the ASCE-led panel that would say one way or another if there is compensation involved.  The majority of folks that responded assumed that this was something that ASCE was contracted to do.  I, however, assumed when I first saw this "news" in my ASCE email newsletter assumed that it was going to be an ASCE-led volunteer panel, much like every single ASCE committee is comprised of volunteers that don't get paid for their work.  When this thread popped up, I must admit that I went back and re-read the news release and I cannot see anything that says one way or the other.  Thus, I don't know if it is a paid effort or not.  The only thing that I can say is that we may all be potentially guilty of making an assumption based upon our preconceived notions of ASCE.  I made a "positive" assumption that it was NOT a paid effort, but rather ASCE "volunteering" to help cause I generally thing positive things of ASCE (except when you start to talk about their whole Master's degree as the first professional degree push).
It appears that you made a "negative" assumption that it was a paid effort due to what appears to be your somewhat negative (from my perspective at
least) view of ASCE.


Adrian, MI

On Thu, 1 Jun 2006, Polhemus, Bill wrote:

> I say this with all due respect to folks like Stan Caldwell, who I 
> know act out of a certain sense of altruism. And I don't mean to say 
> that business interests are anathema. And further, if I'm 
> misunderstanding this--if the individuals or ASCE itself isn't getting 
> any significant compensation for this and they're doing it out of 
> public spiritedness--I profoundly apologize.

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