Board Member Spotlight December 2021
As part of our new Board Member Appreciation Program, we are showcasing a board member in our monthly Board Member Spotlight. Our board member spotlight recognizes board members of outstanding contributions to the profession and our local communities. For any questions regarding the program please contact the Past President PastPresident@ymf-oc.org.
For the December Spotlight, we would like to introduce...
JOSEPH HUYNH, EIT
We asked him to state his name, company, and position(s) in ASCE:
We also asked him a few questions about the following:
Where did you grow up?
I grew up not too far away, in a small suburb of LA called El Monte, CA.
What made you want to become an engineer?
I had no idea what I wanted to study for college, but I looked up to my sister’s boyfriend at the time and he was studying Civil Engineering, and so I followed suit.
Favorite hobbies, sports, and interests outside of engineering?
Favorite hobby would definitely be community service and generally helping others, whether it’s physical labor, mentorship, or fellowship/group therapy. I enjoy playing basketball, studying martial arts, will rewatch classic films over and over, and generally just development of communities, my family, friends and myself for the greater good. Which to me, is to just be happy. We all ought to be happy!
Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...
At the barbershop chatting, attending a church service, or hanging out with friends grabbing lunch and just talking!
What college(s) did you attend? Can you list your degrees, any honors, and involvement in engineering organizations during school?
I attended Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) and received a BS and MS in Civil Engineering in 2016, and 2020, respectively. My undergraduate senior project team with help from my leadership won a $10,000 grant from the Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles which then became a part of a series of grants from $100,000 to $1Million donated from the United States Bureau of Reclamation for our department’s efforts on water reuse during the height of the drought in California. In my graduate program at CPP, I was awarded the President’s Scholar for my efforts in mentorship, high academic excellence, and community involvement with ASCE.
WORK & PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Describe your responsibilities and some significant projects.
My current role at A3Geo is as Geotechnical QA/QC Oversight Field Engineer for a few dams owned by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). As field engineer, I represent my company on the day to day operations of construction, and ensure that the contractors, owner’s representatives, and stakeholders interests are maintained by making sure that the plans, specifications, and budgets are maintained per our scope of work. Outside of this role, I am involved in geotechnical investigation reports, which to me is simply characterizing the strength parameters, accounting for geologic hazards, and maintaining client/owner relationships through essentially geotechnical engineering and communication.
What is your favorite part about being a Civil Engineer?
My favorite part about being a Civil Engineer is being able to see how all of my work indirectly and directly affects the lives of many. From roadways, bridges, and buildings to the networks and business relationships that I make, helping people better their lives from afar and close-up makes my job so satisfying!
What skills do you find most valuable to focus on in your career?
At the bare minimum, Cal Poly Pomona ingrained within me this concept of learn by doing. I essentially learned to have a toolset that allows me to figure out problems from a more intuitive approach. Which is also why I went back to graduate school, because I realized that I needed more technical skills to make a difference in my own career, at least faster. However, apart from being hands-on, and technical, the most valuable skill that I found useful, was introduced to me by ASCE. That is, it’s soft skills, it’s being able to communicate effectively, it’s being supportive and having a mentality of building cohesiveness and teams, that have made all the difference for me. I learned that it takes a team to truly make a difference!
What drew you to your specific career path? If you could start your career differently, what would you do differently?
During one summer, job working for my father, who at the time was a business owning gardener, one of his clients came out and talked to me about a retaining wall that he had built in his backyard. His neighbor was the owner of In-n-out, and this property was at least $15 million in value at the time. I had no idea what a retaining wall was at the time, but that encounter really inspired me to learn all about them. If I could start my career differently, I definitely would have gotten involved with ASCE much sooner, taken more internships, and networked with as many colleagues and mentors as possible! But it’s never too late, and I will always appreciate the journey that I’ve gone through to get here!
ASCE & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
How/Why did you get involved? Why did you choose to stay involved?
My involvement in ASCE started around the time I realized that I was missing something in terms of community involvement. One of my classmates from high school, Elizabeth Ruedas happened to be very involved with ASCE OC and she had invited me to one of her talks at a Society of Women Engineer’s event just down the street from my office at the time. There, I met her great friend, Jazzy Quinabo, and they both recruited me to OC YMF.
From there I continued to be more and more involved until I had to step away to focus on my graduate program, but I chose to stay involved to this day because of the tremendous amount of personal and career growth that I experienced in the short amount of time that I’ve been here.
How has ASCE impacted your work and/or what is your favorite benefit of your involvement?
Some examples of personal and career growth would be through the mentorship, community service, and university outreach programs that we have in OC YMF. In these programs, I was reminded of where I started a student, given advice about my career, and was able to circle back and give back to these programs. It’s kind of difficult to explain, but specifically, I learned a lot about myself both good and not so good, and I improved upon them.
My favorite benefit of my involvement is that when I look around the room, not only so I see friends and colleagues, but I see the future and current leaders of our industry and communities.
Who is someone you admire and why?
One person I admire is Jesus Christ. I didn’t really grow up having a spiritual relationship like some of my friends at church, but if you’ve ever seen the movie, The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson, or at least heard of it… wow. I could never be tested and challenged from a physical, mental, and spiritual perspective as he did and still persevere to get to where I wanted to be. So I’m so thankful and happy to say that I admire Jesus Christ because he is literally the Greatest of All Time (GOAT), at least to me!
If you have one piece of advice to give to young professionals what would it be?
Don’t give up, look around, self-assess, re-assess, and ask yourself… are you happy?
Lastly, what would be your personal motto?
Thank God 😊
If you missed the last (November 2021) Board Member Spotlight, Janelle Gonzalez, you can click here to read her article.
To view the archive of all past Member Spotlights, click here.