Board Member Spotlight January 2022
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 January Spotlight, we would like to introduce...
MICHAEL DINICOLA, EIT
We asked him to state his name, company, and position(s) in ASCE:
Michael Dinicola, E.I.T.
Design Engineer | Mark Thomas
CSULB Practitioner Advisor & Internal Activities Chair
We also asked him a few questions about the following:
Where did you grow up?
What made you want to become an engineer?
My Grandpa Joe was a big influence in my life and is the reason I started down the path of engineering. For as long as I can remember, I was naturally curious about how things worked. While my parents weren’t eager that I was always taking things apart, my grandpa on the other hand encouraged me to do so and figure out how to put things back together. As a kid, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ home and would listen to my grandpa tell me about his work as a Civil Engineer. I was so interested in how he made a career out of using his problem-solving skills to make a difference in the world, that I decided I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I was so convinced that I even dressed up as a Civil Engineer for Halloween in the 3rd grade.
Favorite hobbies, sports, and interests outside of engineering?
I love to be in the water, whether that be swimming in the ocean, kayaking, or fishing in natural lakes. My favorite sport to play is water polo. I like to lay back a lot and watch something that’s animated like Futurama or Anime. Animation is my favorite form of entertainment because of how creative stories can get when they’re not physically constrained by the real world. Recently, I’ve also been getting into building and painting miniatures for tabletop games. My favorite game is Warhammer, which is almost like an advanced form of 3D chess, but it feels a lot more personal and exciting because every playing piece on the table is built and decorated myself.
Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...
…sleeping in until it’s time to eat lunch.
What college(s) did you attend? Can you list your degrees, any honors, and involvement in engineering organizations during school?
I received my B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from CSULB in Spring 2020. During college, I held several positions in ASCE and Chi Epsilon, including being the ASCE CSULB President and Chi Epsilon Vice President. In the summer of 2019, I was honored to be a part of the founding class of the ASCE OC Pathways Academy. Later in the 2019-2020 school year, I was also recognized as the recipient of the ASCE OC Gary Gilbert Memorial Scholarship and the Orange County Engineering Council Outstanding Engineering Student Award.
WORK & PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Describe your responsibilities and some significant projects.
As a Transportation Design Engineer with Mark Thomas, I primarily use Civil 3D to help in the design of roadways and freeways for both local LA and OC communities, as well as all over the state of California. A cool project I’ve been involved with lately is the redesign of the State Route 47 interchanges at the Port of Los Angeles, where I’ve gotten to build upon a lot of skills such as designing typical cross-sections, curb ramps, freeway overhead signs, and stage construction.
What is your favorite part about being a Civil Engineer?
My favorite thing about the job by far is how often I get to put my problem-solving hat on and come up with creative and effective approaches to difficult issues, with my decisions and work helping to improve a community in a positive way.
What skills do you find most valuable to focus on in your career?
Communication is the big one since all the hard work I do on the technical side doesn’t have the same impact if the person on the other side of the conversation doesn’t have a clear idea of it. I think it’s also important to be a good visual storyteller so that you and others can understand how all the bits and pieces connect to the big picture at the end of the day.
What drew you to your specific career path? If you could start your career differently, what would you do differently?
Since I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, I went into college thinking that I wanted to do structural engineering. I was happy enough with the structural classes I took in school that I thought that I had found what I wanted to do. That all changed when I became a scholar for the ASCE OC Pathways Academy, where I was fortunate enough to see presentations showcasing the different disciplines of civil engineering and visit the offices of several companies and public agencies. After seeing all that the profession had to offer, I became a lot more interested in Transportation Engineering, which drew me to where I’m at now.
ASCE & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
How/Why did you get involved? Why did you choose to stay involved?
My first encounter with ASCE was…interesting. I had to do an assignment for an engineering intro course at CSULB, where I had to attend a meeting for an Engineering Organization on campus. I decided to check out ASCE, expecting to learn a little about the club. However, that day instead of the usual general meeting, the club was hosting a mock interview workshop with ASCE OC. As a shy freshman that had never done an interview before, I was of course terrified. But the encouragement and thoughtful advice I got from both students and professionals showed me that the organization was filled with like-minded people that just wanted to see each other succeed. I saw ASCE as the perfect environment to reinvent myself into the leader I wanted to be, so I joined up at the first chance I got.
How has ASCE impacted your work and/or what is your favorite benefit of your involvement?
Since joining ASCE, I’ve had countless opportunities to develop several skills I constantly use in my career, such as communication, planning, and teamwork. By far my favorite benefit has been getting to network with so many amazing people and getting to know the small world of civil engineering from so many different backgrounds and perspectives. If it wasn’t for ASCE showing me the opportunities out there and giving me the experience to network with the right people, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today.
Who is someone you admire and why?
In addition to my late grandfather who sparked my interest in engineering, I deeply admire my parents for all the sacrifices they made so I could receive my education and the support they gave to make me a better person. Whenever times got rough and I doubted if I was meant for engineering, my parents were always there to reassure me and put me back on the right path.
If you have one piece of advice to give to young professionals what would it be?
Get involved and stay involved with as many opportunities as comfortably possible that come their way at you. You really get out what you put into extracurricular activities.
Lastly, what would be your personal motto?
Life is a journey, not a competition.
If you missed the last (December 2021) Board Member Spotlight, Joseph Huynh, you can click here to read his article.
To view the archive of all past Member Spotlights, click here.