Board Member Spotlight February/March 2023
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 February/March Spotlight, we would like to introduce...
CHRIS WONGSAVANH, EIT
We asked her to state his name, company, and position(s) in ASCE:
Christopher Wongsavanh, EIT, MBA
Classification - Transportation Engineer (Civil); Title - Area Bridge Maintenance Engineer; Caltrans HQ (District 7)
2022 Community Service/Outreach Committee Co-Chair, ASCE OC YMF
2023 Webmaster, WRYMC 2023
We also asked him a few questions about the following:
Where did you grow up?
Born & raised in Orange County.
What made you want to become an engineer?
As a kid I wanted to make a difference in the world but also do something that I enjoyed. I was good at math & science in school and I liked working with my hands and getting creative. Civil Engineers serve and shape our communities and I wanted to be a part of that.
Favorite hobbies, sports, and interests outside of engineering?
I enjoy spending time with my family and often visit my relatives in the Central Valley. I like to cook and learn new recipes, play the guitar and piano, and find new board games or card games to play.
Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...
... Sleeping in after a long Saturday night with friends and family.
What college(s) did you attend? Can you list your degrees, any honors, and involvement in engineering organizations during school?
CSU Fullerton - BS Civil Engineering w/ magna cum laude 2020; MBA w/ honors 2022
Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) - Treasurer, Vice President, Secretary
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) - Steel Bridge Captain 2018 & 2019, PSWC 2020 Planning Committee Technical Events Lead
Society of Structural Engineers - President & Founder, affiliated with EERI, SEAOSC, & AISC
Chi Epsilon (XE) Honor Society - Vice President
WORK & PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Describe your responsibilities and some significant projects.
As an Area Bridge Maintenance Engineer, I am out and about in the field inspecting both local and state bridges throughout California. My responsibilities include field inspections of bridge conditions and deterioration, making maintenance work recommendations including preventative maintenance and emergency repairs, and responding to structures during emergency events like high-load hits, floods, and earthquakes.
What is your favorite part about being a Civil Engineer?
I get to contribute to the safety and improvement of our built environment for the general public and for future generations.
What skills do you find most valuable to focus on in your career?
Clear communication, technical knowledge, organizational skills, and managing stressful situations.
What drew you to your specific career path? If you could start your career differently, what would you do differently?
I knew that I wanted to work in a position that I served the public. I got involved in the traffic and structural groups during undergrad to network and learn more about my potential profession and the opportunities that existed out there. I found that the transportation industry was what best fit my goals and aspirations. I'm still early in my career, having previously been a bridge designer for a little over 2 years and now recently transitioned to a maintenance engineer & inspector role during the past year. I believe in diversifying my experiences and skills so I always search for opportunities to try something different or learn something new.
The only thing I would do differently would be to take more risks. I sometimes held myself back because I didn't think I was capable or qualified. I now always try to push myself to get out of my comfort zone. The COVID pandemic definitely had an impact on my career path but overall I'm happy where I am and where I'm going.
ASCE & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
How/Why did you get involved? Why did you choose to stay involved?
As a student, I was told that ASCE was the main Civil Engineering organization so I started attending meetings and got involved on a project team. From there, I built friendships and found opportunities to put what I learned in class to use. I remained involved because I wanted to help build the organization and encourage the next generation to discover the opportunities that ASCE offered both for their career and personal growth.
How has ASCE impacted your work and/or what is your favorite benefit of your involvement?
ASCE provides opportunities for me to give back through volunteering and student outreach while also networking with like minded individuals who recognize the power of community.
Who is someone you Admire and Why?
I admire my dad who was separated from his family and escaped Laos during the Vietnam War all while he was still a child. He survived in the refugee camps before making it to America, where he worked hard every day, put himself through school, and built a family that had more than he ever dreamed he would have. He was resourceful, never gave up, and was always on the grind to build himself and support his family.
If you have one piece of advice to give to young professionals what would it be?
Continue challenging yourself with new tasks, projects, and roles. Strive to be selfless and offer a helping hand to those in need. Always pay it forward.
Lastly, what would be your personal motto?
"You are capable of much more than you think"
If you missed the last (December 2022/January 2023) Board Member Spotlight, Jocelyn Del Angel, you can click here to read her article.
To view the archive of all past Member Spotlights, click here.