Board Member Spotlight
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 September Spotlight, we would like to introduce...
MARIONNE LAPITAN, E.I.T., ENV SP
We asked her to state her name, company, and position(s) in ASCE:
Civil Associate - Michael Baker International
Communications Committee Co-Chair
Website Committee Co-Chair
CSULB Professional-At-Large (Outgoing CSULB Practitioner Advisor)
We also asked her a few questions about the following:
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Southern California (Lakewood/Long Beach area) in 2008!
What made you want to become an engineer?
Both of my parents were university professors (for Math and Computer Science) in the Philippines, so I spent hours of my childhood in their office/classrooms after school! Their co-workers and students, at that time, even taught me math tricks I ended up using in my geometry and algebra courses at school years later. Being on a college campus for hours as a kid allowed me to learn about the endless possibilities of a "dream career" and the importance of STEM in transforming lives. So, growing up, I wanted to be everything! When I realized that wasn't possible and had to choose one, I found civil engineering the next best thing! In high school, I was a part of the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) program, hosted by the CSULB College of Engineering K-12 Outreach and Recruitment, where we visited transportation agencies in Southern California. It opened my eyes to the various work local civil engineers do every day, from design to construction. The speakers from the program also shared their passions in helping others and how their work plays a massive role in it. Ever since then, I never looked back! Civil engineering was the perfect combination of my passion for making a difference and being my version of "everything."
Favorite hobbies, sports, and interests outside of engineering?
I love to travel and collect mini snow globes throughout my adventures! My dream is to visit all 50 U.S. states and visit as many art museums and national parks as I can! I took one semester of Art History in college and was blown away by how art can express what words can't. I have a vast appreciation of artists throughout history because of it.
I also love graphic design and typography! It's my creative outlet, and it's a small portion of my YMF roles I genuinely enjoy so much!
Plant care! It's a hobby that really kept me sane throughout quarantine and taught me so much about dealing with different types of plants and their personalities (or plant-alities?).
Watch movies! I love to reference classic movies in conversations, greetings, and captions. "Great Scott," my all-time favorite movie is Back to the Future!
Play badminton! I played competitively in high school, and it's the only sport I've ever really trained or practice. It has helped me to have confidence in my skills and recognize failures as pillars for success.
Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...
... at home, hanging out with my dog Maui, and re-watching seasons of Survivor!
What college(s) did you attend? Can you list your degrees, any honors, and involvement in engineering organizations during school?
I received my Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) in 2019. Go Beach! I served as the ASCE CSULB Activities Chair (2017-2018) and ASCE CSULB Co-President (2018-2019). I was heavily involved in the Surveying, Transportation, Sustainability, and GeoWall teams for the Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) throughout college! I also served in multiple leadership roles in ITE, Chi Epsilon, EERI, and the American Red Cross during my time at CSULB. As for honors, as a student, I received scholarships/recognitions from ASCE Orange County, ASCE Los Angeles, and the Orange County Engineering Council. My teams also qualified for international and national competitions! It's a feat I'm genuinely proud to have experienced and shared with friends!
I'm also currently pursuing my Master's Degree in Civil Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona (CPP)! Go Broncos!
WORK & PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Describe your responsibilities and some significant projects.
I'm currently a Civil Associate in the Traffic/ITS team at Michael Baker International's Santa Ana, CA office. I assist in designing traffic signals, signing and striping, traffic control, and other traffic engineering-related items using AutoCAD and MicroStation. I also conduct traffic analysis and collect field information to help evaluate and develop projects. Recently, I've been working on multiple Los Angeles County projects that focus on street sustainability, including bike/pedestrian improvements and the installation of traffic calming devices. My favorite project is the City of Santa Monica Traffic Signal Synchronization Project (TSSP), which includes traffic improvements along Ocean Boulevard. Being a part of helping improve the traffic systems in the area has been both rewarding and exciting with its efforts to continue to promote more sustainable modes of transportation! Plus, it's a Southern California landmark that movie lovers like me can recognize immediately!
What is your favorite part about being a Civil Engineer?
As civil engineers, we play a huge role in bridging ideas and technology to reality. We help develop infrastructure that improves and provides lasting impacts to our communities. My favorite part is our ability to make a difference through every infrastructure we design and build. It has been the driving force of my passion for civil engineering, no matter how stressful some workdays can get.
What skills do you find most valuable to focus on in your career?
I've found that having strong interpersonal communication and leadership skills is most valuable to focus on in my career. While having a solid foundation of technical skills is essential, soft skills can effectively and efficiently lead to any project's overall success in client-consultant work. It allows for a clear articulation of ideas and information to both our colleagues and the public.
What drew you to your specific career path? If you could start your career differently, what would you do differently?
I was drawn to traffic as my specialization in civil engineering. While I spent hours of my childhood on a college campus, I also spent hours commuting in traffic with our 1997 Toyota Corolla. My family lived about 30 minutes from my school in the City, but it took us 2–3 hours (one-way) to commute every day. The traffic systems in the Philippines weren't heavily enforced and designed for efficiency at that time. That experience inspired me to be a part of the change to help solve these global transportation issues from our current home in California! I also love how traffic can help bridge the gap between traditional engineering designs with future technologies.
Reminiscing back, I wouldn't change the start of my career. Every experience happened at the right time, and both positive and negative instances helped me grow into the young engineer I am today.
ASCE & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
How/Why did you get involved? Why did you choose to stay involved?
I randomly signed up for the PSWC 2017 Surveying Team in the Fall of 2016 and got a text from the Team Captain a few weeks later about our first practice! Some weekend practices later, we won third place! I was assigned to become Team Captain the following year and slowly met other student members through my role. I eventually became Activities Chair and Co-President for the CSULB Student Chapter! After college, I stayed involved because it led me to opportunities I never thought were possible for someone like me. I met like-minded people through the organization, and it continuously inspires me to pursue new ideas and ventures in the industry.
How has ASCE impacted your work and/or what is your favorite benefit of your involvement?
ASCE helped me become more aware of the industry beyond the "9-5" schedule. It allowed me to interact with other civil engineering professionals and introduced me to some of my closest friends today. My favorite benefit is the network and the opportunity to pursue our crazy ideas! For instance, the "ASCE CSULB Dream Big: A K-12 Civil Engineering Outreach Event" was once a crazy idea my CSULB Co-President and I had that was only made possible by the support and guidance of everyone we met through ASCE. The program is even celebrating its fourth year this Fall 2021!
Who is someone you admire and why?
I admire my parents. They've made so many sacrifices for my brother and me all these years, especially since we immigrated to the United States. They've stayed resilient through all of life's hardships, and they've constantly been our greatest supporters, teachers, and advocates. I also admire my friends and family, who have always shown kindness, strength, and support, despite their own struggles.
If you have one piece of advice to give to young professionals what would it be?
Show up and stay active in professional organizations! One event can open a multitude of opportunities. The more you show up, the more you recognize people in the industry, the more comfortable you are with networking, and the more opportunities can come your way. A conversation about your hobbies with another engineer can also help you feel more comfortable and recognize that engineers serve people, but they are also people.
Lastly, what would be your personal motto?
Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life! Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
If you missed the last (August 2021) Board Member Spotlight, Denise Abril, you can click here to read her article.
To view the archive of all past Member Spotlights, click here.