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American Society of Civil Engineers

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Title: American Society of Civil Engineers  
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Collection: American Engineering Organizations, Civil Engineering Professional Associations, Organizations Established in 1852
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American Society of Civil Engineers

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Motto A better world by design.
Formation November 5, 1852 (1852-11-05)
Type Engineering Society
Headquarters Reston, Virginia
Membership 140,000
Official language English
President Andrew W. Herrmann, P.E., SECB, F.ASCE
Staff 250
Website .org.ascewww

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is a tax-exempt professional body founded in 1852 to represent members of the civil engineering profession worldwide. Based in Reston, Virginia, it is the oldest national engineering society in the United States.


  • History 1
    • The 21st century 1.1
  • Mission 2
  • Publications 3
    • Journals 3.1
    • Books 3.2
    • Magazines 3.3
  • Conferences and education 4
    • Institutes 4.1
  • Divisions 5
    • Peer reviews 5.1
      • Controversy in New Orleans levee investigation 5.1.1
  • Government relations 6
  • Activities outside the United States 7
  • Awards and designations 8
    • World wonders 8.1
    • Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) awards 8.2
    • Wesley W. Horner Award 8.3
  • References 9
  • External links 10


ASCE was founded in New York City on November 5, 1852, when twelve engineers—James Laurie, W. H. Morell, S. S. Post, W. H. Talcott, and W. H. Sidell—met at the offices of the Croton Aqueduct and formed the American Society of Civil Engineers and Architects. It was the first national engineering society created in the United States.[1] In 1869 the "Architects" was dropped from the name, as the architects formed their own society, the American Institute of Architects, in 1857.[2]

As part of understanding the history of civil engineering and promoting the civil engineering profession, a survey of the historic accomplishments of civil engineers is continually conducted by ASCE members. Such reviews of civil engineering accomplishments have produced various lists of the notable categories and projects of the profession.

The 21st century

During the 1925 Mid-South convention of the ASCE, held in Memphis, Tennessee, engineers and their families were invited on a sightseeing trip aboard two ships. These ships, Choctaw and M.E. Norman, were operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The M.E. Norman, a steamship, capsized and sank in the Mississippi River, resulting in the deaths of 23 passengers and crew, including former ASCE president Paul Howes Norcross.

The prospect of a new millennium led the ASCE to reflect upon the civil engineering achievements of the 20th century with two events. First, the Millennium Challenge in 1999 identified the top-ten "civil engineering achievements that had the greatest positive impact on life in the 20th century", which were to be "broad categories", rather than "individual achievements", which were reserved for the second event. Monuments of the Millennium selected and recognized feats of civil engineering that demonstrated a "combination of technical engineering achievement, courage and inspiration, and a dramatic influence on the development of [their] communities".[3]

The achievements and the monuments that best exemplify them include:


ASCE is the permanent organization representing the civil engineering profession in the United States. Its mission is to "provide essential value to our members and partners, advance civil engineering, and serve the public good". ASCE strives to "facilitate the advancement of technology", "encourage and provide the tools for lifelong learning", promote professionalism, influence public policy, "develop and support civil engineer leaders", and "advocate infrastructure and environmental stewardship".[4]


ASCE is the world's largest publisher of civil engineering information — producing more than 55,000 pages of technical content each year. The ASCE Publications Division produces 33 professional journals (available both in print and online editions), conference proceedings, standards, manuals of practice, committee reports, and monographs. A 200,000-entry civil engineering database is available at their website, along with many other resources for practicing civil engineers, including a complete publications catalog and the ASCE Library, which provides access to more than 600,000 pages of journal articles and proceedings. ASCE also publishes Civil Engineering, the official magazine of the Society; ASCE News; and Geo-Strata.


ASCE's 33 peer-reviewed highly cited journals, including the Journal of Structural Engineering, facilitate the exchange of technical and professional knowledge among civil engineers. Information published in the journals forms an archival record of the technical advances of today's civil engineering profession. The complete volumes from 1990-2006 are available online.


ASCE publishes books on civil engineering research and practice. Prior to publication, each title is peer-reviewed by subject matter experts. The list includes more than 1,500 standards, manuals of practice, committee reports, proceedings, and ASCE press titles.


Civil Engineering, ASCE's monthly magazine, contains articles about significant projects, events, and trends of interest to civil engineers. The mix of articles in each issue is designed to appeal to a broad range of readers, who represent the full spectrum of civil engineering disciplines. Other periodicals include ASCE News which reports on the activities of the Society and Geo-Strata, published on behalf of the Geo-Institute.

Conferences and education

Each year ASCE hosts over 15 annual and specialty conferences including its annual conference. Each year, the Society holds more than 310 live, face-to-face continuing education seminars and more than 250 live Web seminars on a wide variety of technical and management topics. In addition, the Society has hundreds of distance learning programs available. ASCE offers Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and Professional Development Hours (PDHs) for conferences, seminars and workshops, and most distance learning programs to help professional engineers meet mandatory continuing professional competency requirements in their states.

ASCE offers activities supporting the formal education process of civil engineers.


ASCE also has eight full-service institutes created to serve working professionals working within specialized fields of civil engineering:


More than 6,200 civil engineers and allied professionals serve on numerous technical committees and provide other services that benefit the Society and the profession. The Society's Technical Activities Committee (TAC) has 12 Divisions and Councils, some of which are further divide into committees.[5] The 12 Divisions and Councils include:

ASCE is an organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that produces consensus standards under direction of the Codes and Standards Activities Committee. Civil Engineering Certification Inc. (CEC), affiliated with ASCE, has been established to support specialty certification academies for civil engineering specialties. The Committee on Critical Infrastructure (CCI) provides vision and guidance on ASCE activities related to critical infrastructure resilience, including planning, design, construction, O&M, and event mitigation, response and recovery. ASCE also serves as Secretariat for The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP), a nonprofit partnership focused on improving the nation's built environment. Affiliated with ASCE, TISP, provides a multidisciplinary security rating system for buildings and a certified professional building security credential for individuals.[6]

The ASCE raises money through the ASCE Foundation.

Peer reviews

ASCE provides SLAPP statute—a "strategic lawsuit against public participation"—which allows courts to weed out lawsuits designed to chill public participation on matters of public significance.[21]

In March 2008, announced that records obtained in a request under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that as early October 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers directed the ASCE and later paid the group more than $1.1 million for their peer review and for giving presentations which the non-profit claimed contained at least ten falsehoods, four significant omissions, and numerous misrepresentations. Members of the ASCE are forbidden from making false or exaggerated statements and also from making statements for an interested party unless this is disclosed.[22]

Government relations

ASCE encourages its affiliates to support state and local public and governmental affairs activities, especially through efforts by its grassroots Key Contact program. The Society's federal priority issues for the 110th Congress are clean water, drinking water, and wastewater, math and science education, natural hazards mitigation and infrastructure security, Qualifications Based Selection for engineering services, smart growth/sustainable development and transportation infrastructure. The state priority issues are infrastructure issues, licensing, math and science education, procurement of professional services, smart growth, and transportation infrastructure.

Activities outside the United States

The ASCE conducts a wide variety of activities outside the United States, supporting its vision of positioning engineers as "global leaders building a better quality of life". ASCE works to share and grow the engineering body of knowledge among civil engineers worldwide and proactively informs engineers of the opportunities and challenges that global developments have on the practice of engineering. The Society serves approximately 14,000 members outside the United States, and provides networking opportunities through ASCE International Sections and Groups, an international program at the Annual Meeting, and other events. ASCE has Agreements of Cooperation with 72 engineering organizations in 59 countries, supports 12 International Sections and 19 International Groups, and participates in a variety of international engineering organizations. International activities span numerous ASCE program areas, including the Institutes and technical committees, who hold international conferences and technical sessions. About half the contributions to ASCE journals come from overseas authors, and half of publication sales are to engineers living outside the United States.

Awards and designations

ASCE Historical Marker at Philadelphia City Hall.

ASCE sponsors numerous awards for outstanding work in various areas of civil engineering, some of which are based on papers submitted to its many journals. ASCE also designates national and international Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks.

World wonders

In an effort to recognize a contemporary equivalent to the heralded ancient Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the ASCE has designated the following Seven Wonders of the Modern World:[23]

Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) awards

ASCE holds an annual black-tie event to present the Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) awards. There are four awards: the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award (OCEA), the Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Henry L. Michel Award for Industry Advancement of Research, and the Charles Pankow Award for Innovation.

The Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award (OCEA) has been presented annually since 1960. It "honors the project that best illustrates superior civil engineering skills and represents a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society".[24] As a project award, it recognizes the team effort of all the engineers involved in completion of the project.

The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented annually since 1999. It recognizes a lifetime of achievements and accomplishments to five different individual leaders. One award is present in each category of design, construction, government, education, and management.[25]

Wesley W. Horner Award

Initially created in 1968 by ASCE's Sanitary Engineering Division, the award is named after former ASCE President Wesley W. Horner. The award is given to a recently peer reviewed published paper in the fields of hydrology, urban drainage, or sewerage. Special consideration is given to private practice engineering work that is recognized as a valuable contribution to the field of environmental engineering.[26]


  1. ^ "ASCE Founders' Plaque". Metropolitan Section, American Society of Civil Engineers. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Beard, Jeffrey L.; et al. (2001). Design-build: planning through development. McGraw-Hill Professional. para. 2.4.  
  3. ^ a b c "Top 10 Achievements & Millennium Monuments". People and Projects > Projects. American Society of Civil Engineers. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "Vision, Mission & Goals". American Society of Civil Engineers. Retrieved December 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ Technical Committees, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  6. ^ "TISP FACT SHEET 2011-2012". The Infrastructure Security Partnership. Retrieved December 26, 2011. 
  7. ^ Peer Review for Public Agencies ASCE. Accessed November 17, 2007.
  8. ^ Peer Review ASCE. Accessed November 17, 2007.
  9. ^ Task force will review engineers' studies-
  10. ^ ASCE panel cites conflict of interest, September 13, 2008, By Mark Schleifstein -
  11. ^ a b (March 2007) Strock Honors ERP Members with Outstanding Civilian Service Medal ASCE News. Accessed October 10, 2007.
  12. ^ Roth, Lawrence "Larry", on behalf of ASCE External Review Panel. (March 20, 2007) National Research Council Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects, Meeting 2. New Orleans, LA. Accessed October 13, 2007.
  13. ^ News Release. (June 1, 2007) Move Beyond Sound-bites and “Armchair” Theories to Make the Nation Safer From Disaster, Engineers Say ASCE. Accessed October 12, 2007.
  14. ^ ERP Report Now Available Accessed October 11, 2007.
  15. ^ (June 19, 2007) EDITORIAL: Sound bites and spin jobs The Times-Picayune. Accessed October 10, 2007.
  16. ^ Levees.Org » Watch our new Public Service Announcement!
  17. ^ a b Engineer group not amused by online spoof of levee review-
  18. ^ Controversial video - New Orleans Video - Times-Picayune -
  19. ^ Microsoft Word - W F Marcuson III_a_.doc
  20. ^ ASCE is investigating-
  21. ^ reposts controversial video - New Orleans News -
  22. ^ founder accuses Corps of spinning blame | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Top Stories | News for New Orleans, Louisiana |
  23. ^ Seven Wonders of the Modern World ASCE. Accessed June 14, 2011.
  24. ^ American Society of Civil Engineers. "ASCE Honors and Awards - Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement". Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  25. ^ American Society of Civil Engineers. "ASCE Honors and Awards - Lifetime Achievement Award". Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  26. ^ Wesley W. Horner Award ASCE. Accessed October 10, 2007.

External links

  • Official website
  • Levees.Org Grassroots organization critical of the ASCE's investigation into the New Orleans area levee failures.
  • 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure
  • "Centennial of Engineering" – A 3¢ commemorative US postage stamp issued in 1952
President David Mongan, in a letter to the [17] by University of California-Berkeley professor Raymond B. Seed, who served on a separate independent panel investigating levee failures.[19] On November 14, 2007, following the controversial video affair, the ASCE confirmed the launch of an internal ethics probe of its staff and members based on complaints

On November 5, 2007, New Orleans-based grassroots group released an online Public Service Announcement criticizing the ASCE's close relationship with the United States Army Corps of Engineers.[16] On November 12, 2007, the ASCE asked to remove the video from the internet, threatening the organization with legal action.[17] On November 13, the Times-Picayune reposted the controversial video on their website.[18]

Shortly after the release of the ERP's findings, ASCE administration was criticized by The Times-Picayune for an apparent attempt to minimize and understate the role of the Army Corps in the flooding. The Times-Picayune editorial called attention to a press release issued by ASCE which accompanied the ERP report that contained information not present in the report and information that conflicted with the report.[15]

In October 2005, after the failures of the federally designed and built levees in Greater New Orleans, Lt Gen Carl Strock P.E., M.ASCE, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested that ASCE create an expert review panel (ERP) to peer review the Corps-sponsored Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET), the body commissioned by the Corps to assess the performance of the hurricane protection system in metro New Orleans. Lawrence Roth P.E., F.ASCE, Deputy Executive Director of the ASCE led the ERP development, served as the panel's Chief of Staff and facilitated the panel's interaction with IPET.[11] The role of the ERP—composed of 14 specialists who possess a range of technical expertise—was to provide an independent technical review of the IPET's activities and findings. Roth stated at a National Research Council meeting in New Orleans, that "an independent review panel" such as the ERP "ensure[s] that the outcome is a robust, credible and defensible performance evaluation".[12] All members of the ERP panel received Outstanding Civilian Service Medals from Lt. Gen Strock on February 12, 2007.[11] The ERP's findings were released three months later on June 1, 2007, in a report titled The New Orleans Hurricane Protection System: What Went Wrong and Why.[13][14]

Controversy in New Orleans levee investigation


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