Board Member Spotlight April-May 2020
As part of our new Board Member Appreciation Program, we are showcasing a board member in our bimonthly 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 April-May 2020 Spotlight, we would like to introduce...
We asked her to state her name, company, and position(s) in ASCE:
Mark Thomas, Design Engineer I
Internal Activities Co-Chair and UCI Practitioner Advisor
We also asked him a few questions about the following:
Where did you grow up?
What made you want to become an engineer?
While I was in middle school, my older sister learned about engineering in high school as she was preparing for college. She shared several engineering pamphlets she received with me and I was interested in learning more about engineering. I took introductory engineering classes my high school offered and began researching engineering careers. When applying to college and researching majors to choose I came across an article that described civil engineering as " engineers who do work for the improvement of civilization". I immediately resonated with the quote and saw this as a career in which I would be able to give back to communities by improving their infrastructure. I set out to study this in college and now happily work as a Civil Engineer in Roadway Design
Favorite hobbies, sports, and interests outside of engineering?
In my free time I enjoy trying new foods with friends, squeezing in a Disney trip after work, or going on weekend adventures to literally anywhere.
Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...
Having brunch at a new trendy spot with friends or family and catching up.
What college(s) did you attend? Can you list your degrees, any honors, and involvement in engineering organizations during school?
UC Irvine, B.S. Civil Engineering
ASCE UCI Involvement: Historian 2016, Treasurer 2017, President 2018
Global Engineering Brigades: Honduras 2017
WORK & PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Describe your responsibilities and some significant projects.
As a roadway engineer, I typically work on the improvement of highways and freeways through geometric designs and drainage calculations. My responsibilities will include: designing and drafting the horizontal and vertical components of on and off ramps, drafting the cross sections and details, checking certain aspects of a project to assure it meet the appropriate standards, assisting with creating drainage reports and assisting with drainage analysis.
What is your favorite part about being a Civil Engineer?
Learning about all the elements that contribute to creating a safe road is definitely on my high list of favorites. Ultimately being able to physically see improvements being made to a community or a county is extremely rewarding and my absolute favorite part of being a Civil Engineer.
What skills do you find most valuable to focus on in your career?
I find learning technical skills is equally as important as developing personal soft skills. It's important being able to communicate with your co-workers, clients, or partners to collaboratively come up with a solution.
What drew you to your specific career path? If you could start your career differently, what would you do differently?
I was drawn to roadway transportation after taking a class in college that lightly touched on roadway design. I learned the importance of visualizing a road in all perspectives and made the connection. I understood how to visualize a road and wanted to learn more about this. I would have started my career differently by taking different engineering courses at the beginning of college. There is such a wide variety of engineering that I didn't get exposure to but I can't imagine doing a different career that I enjoy doing as much.
ASCE & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
How/Why did you get involved? Why did you choose to stay involved?
During my first week of college at UCI I attended an event called "Anteater Involvement Fair" where all the college clubs and organizations have booths out promoting their clubs. I went to this specifically looking for a civil engineering club to joing, at the time it seemed like common knowledge to want to join. I wanted to be involved with hands on projects as I was in highschool and I wanted to meet other civil engineering students. I was able to find the ASCE booth and just within minutes of speaking with current club members I felt extremely welcomed and signed up to join. I was actively involved in the student chapter throughout all of college, I was involved in both Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge, and held multiple board positions including Student Chapter President in 2018. I started to become involved in YMF toward the end of college and saw a welcoming community of civil engineers who shared similar experiences. It was evident to me that continuing with ASCE after college would expand and strengthen my network of civil engineers and also offer a family like community with an amazing group of people who are all just a passionate about their careers as I was.
How has ASCE impacted your work and/or what is your favorite benefit of your involvement?
ASCE has introduced me to a world of connected civil engineers not only in Orange County but across all of the country.
Who is someone you admire and why?
I have always admired my older sister. For the longest growing up I was always following in her footsteps and wanting to do everything she did. My sister follows her passions and always is determined to achieve her goals. I've learned so many life lessons from her and mostly importantly I learned to follow your passion and work hard for what you want. She is always someone I still to this day aspire to be like.
If you have one piece of advice to give to young professionals what would it be?
Don't be afraid to go through trials and error. Everything is a learning process and the more you focus on learning early on the better the outcome will be in the long run.
Lastly, what would be your personal motto?
"Don't settle. Create the life you want"
If you missed the last (February-March 2020) Board Member Spotlight, Paul Gabot, you can click here to read his article.
To view the archive of all past Member Spotlights, click here.