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An Integrated Vision of Management and Leadership for Delivering 21st-century Civil Infrastructure

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Career Advancement Through Engineering Leadership Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development

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Paper Authors


Michael B. O'Connor New York University Orcid 16x16

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Michael O'Connor, Retired Professional Civil Engineer (Maryland and California), M.ASCE, is a member of the ASCE Committee on Developing Leaders, History and Heritage, Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge (CEBoK), and Engineering Grades. Michael has been a practicing Civil Engineer with over 50 years of engineering, construction, and project management experience split equally between the public and private sectors. Programs ranged from the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit district's 1990's expansions in the East Bay and SFO Airport at three billion to the New Starts program for the Federal Transit Administration with over a hundred projects and $85 billion in construction value. At the latter, he also acted as source selection board chairman and program COTR for $200 plus million in task order contracts for engineering services.
Working for the third-largest transit agency in the United States, the Los Angeles County MTA, Michael managed bus vehicle engineering for $1 billion in new acquisitions and post-delivery maintenance support for 2300 vehicles with some of the most complex technology (natural gas engines and embedded systems) in the US transit industry in the 1990s.
Michael also has extensive experience as an instructor at New York University (five years), Howard University (four years), and California State University- San Francisco (ten years).

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Elizabeth Zofia Bialek PE American Society of Civil Engineers; East Bay Municipal Utility District

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Elizabeth Bialek is a member of the ASCE Committee on Developing Leaders and a practicing Civil Engineer with 30 years of experience. She is the Manager of Engineering Services at the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), where she leads a staff of 57 technicians, clerks, engineers, graphic designers and programmers through 7 direct reports and administers a $5 million annual operating and approximately $50 million capital budget. Elizabeth has been responsible for advancing leadership development, design quality control, emergency response planning and workflow improvements. She has experience with labor relations and expert consultant services for litigation. In her role, Elizabeth also has made contributions to Emergency Response Planning and Dam Safety. She led the development of EBMUD’s Management Leadership Academy and has taught project management courses.
Elizabeth has served as the past chair of the ASCE Public Agency Peer Review Committee, vice-chair of the ASCE Region 9 Water and Environment Committee and has held pas officer roles in the organization.

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Susan Davis American Society of Civil Engineers

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Susan Davis, CAE, Aff.M.ASCE, is a Senior Manager in the Professional and Technical Advancement Department at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She serves as the ASCE staff contact for the Committee on Developing Leaders (CDL), charged with providing, promoting, and assuring engagement in leadership opportunities for civil engineers. Susan also works on a team to create and present original presentations on professional, leadership, and management topics/skills for engineers as volunteer leaders and project leaders. Prior to her current role she worked in ASCE’s Technical Advancement and Continuing Education departments.

Susan holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Longwood University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science from American University in Instructional Design and Learning Analytics. Susan also earned her Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential awarded by ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership.

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Civil engineers are under constant pressure to deliver infrastructure more efficiently and effectively, which has led to the project being the primary vehicle for delivering 21st-century infrastructure. This impetus, in turn, gave rise to certain occupations being recognized as necessary for this effort, the crafts, and the professions, specifically civil engineers and professional societies. The civil engineering society, American Society for Civil Engineers, has stated that delivering future infrastructure will require individual civil engineers to combine the roles of “master planners, designers, constructors, and operators of society’s economic and social engine—the built environment” and “master leaders in discussions and decisions shaping public environmental and infrastructure policy.” Work has been done on developing theories on individual components of this vision, such as engineering management, engineering leadership, engineering communication, and engineering teams to meet these demands. However, there has been no work done on developing an integrated concept that corresponds to examples used in practice for delivering complex infrastructure and as practiced by the individual civil engineer. Professional practice relies upon unifying approaches, integrating the four concepts of management, leadership, communications, and teams. This is the first of several coordinated papers that will be written and presented to the Engineering Leadership Development Division (LEAD) of ASEE. These scholarly papers will collectively attempt to answer the question: What does an integrated vision of management and leadership look like, and why is it so important to the civil engineering profession? This particular paper will provide a new foundation and framework for management and leadership grounded in the social sciences (economics and sociology) that addresses the demands of future infrastructure projects in terms of theory and practice and harmonizes the ASCE and ABET key documents. It also discusses ASCE’s plans to develop learning pathway(s) for intentional leader development. The paper will discuss integrating these management and leadership materials in undergraduate engineering curriculums in the category of professional outcomes, specifically leadership and lifelong learning again as outlined in ASCE and ABET key documents. One beneficial outcome from this effort is for civil engineer students to acknowledge the value and need for lifelong learning and participate in lifelong learning opportunities in these topic areas.

O'Connor, M. B., & Bialek, E. Z., & Davis, S. (2021, July), An Integrated Vision of Management and Leadership for Delivering 21st-century Civil Infrastructure Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36674

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