UESI Pipelines 2023 Steve Kramer

Last Word – Get Involved, Stay Involved in Our Industry

Steven Kramer

Recently, a family member asked me why I was so involved in supporting the associations in the civil engineering and trenchless industries. The easy answer was it is a positive way to give back to the profession. The long answer is more interesting and complex.

There are an endless list of committees, associations and other ways to help the profession. This includes joining a committee and becoming an officer at organizations such as NASTT (North America Society of Trenchless Technology), ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), AGC (Associated General Contractors), TRB (Transportation Research Board), ARTBA (American Road and Transportation Builders Association) and NUCA (National Utility Contractors Association) at either the local or national levels. As you can see, the list of possibilities is extensive.

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There are also many universities where one can volunteer and help the industry, as well. You can support the university that you attended or one of the universities that specializes in your area of interest. We are fortunate to have universities dedicated to trenchless technology such as Arizona State University, Louisiana Tech University, Purdue University and University of Texas at Arlington to highlight a few that have centers and activities where involvement is possible.

On a personal note, I have been involved in varying capacities with ASCE since being a college student and helped to support the formation of NASTT on the first Board of Directors. I have served on many committees at ACEC, TRB and ARTBA. My involvement changed based on my position or interests, challenges occurring at work and issues being encountered on projects. My participation at all these organizations helped me or my company. Just as important, it was a way for me to help others who have contributed to my success as an engineer and manager.

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My journey started with writing technical papers on trenchless subjects and then being asked to join a committee. It required extra time beyond my daily job and frequently time away from my family. The work has always been interesting, advanced my knowledge and I met many new colleagues who are still my friends today. In looking back, I have never regretted when I said yes to be involved and now see how this has continually helped my career. As my career advanced, I was able to take on more leadership roles as a committee chairperson or as an officer in the organizations.

I encourage all professionals to find an organization where they can contribute. It may be as simple as becoming a member of a committee that needs help. Committees are always seeking additional volunteers who can bring new energy and perspectives. This may then advance to other leadership roles. The reasons to become involved may vary between individuals but always tie back to helping and supporting the industry. Here is a list of the benefits that can occur:

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  • Develop industry contacts and network.
  • Interact with colleagues who have similar interests.
  • Increase future job opportunities.
  • Identify new opportunities or projects.
  • Develop life-long friendships.
  • Be recognized as an industry leader.
  • Mentor other professionals.
  • Make a bigger impact by developing guidelines, standards, or codes of practice.
  • Author industry journals.
  • Expand the reputation and brand for your company.

Are you unsure how to get involved? Possibly you have recently designed or constructed a pipe bursting, pipeline rehabilitation, directional drilling or microtunneling project. Your knowledge could be helpful to update a manual of practice or standard. Is there an issue or regulation creating problems in implementation of a new technology? A committee of like-minded individuals may be able to develop a solution. Your recent work could be a case study to present at a future conference.

Often industry involvement can define a purpose that inspires you and others. It can be very motivational on a personal level, and you will have the chance to have regional or industrywide influence.
Yes, it will take extra time beyond your job responsibilities. You may need to attend meetings on weekends or evenings. As these events occur, you will develop broader perspectives by hearing other views on issues and even have some fun along the way. You will stay current on the latest developments in the industry.

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Many of you will be reading this article while attending the NASTT No-Dig Show in Providence, Rhode Island. Take a look at the committees, attend a meeting, and ask if they need help. You will look back on this simple decision with a big smile and gratitude from those that you helped.

Steven Kramer, P.E., F.ASCE, is senior vice president at COWI and member of Trenchless Technology magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board.

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