Board Member Spotlight Febraury-March 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 him to state his name, company, and position(s) in ASCE:
Mark Thomas, Design Engineer I
Internal Activities Co-Chair and UCI Practitioner Advisor
We also asked her 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.
Currently, I work for OC Waste & Recycling as a Civil Engineering Assistant. We're the County entity that manages Orange County's landfills. I prepare regulatory reports for the SCAQMD, LEA (CalRecycle), and the Waterboards. A major project that our company is working on right now is the installation of full-scale composting facilities at two of our landfills. This is in response to new legislation that requires us to find alternative ways to dispose of organic waste.
What is your favorite part about being a Civil Engineer?
I like being a civil engineer because the work I do improves the quality of life of everyone. I enjoy making sure that our air, water, and soil is safe for everyone to use and to educate people on how we keep it as clean as possible.
What skills do you find most valuable to focus on in your career?
The best advice I've been told is that early on in your career, focus on sharpening your technical engineering skills for your selected discipline/area of study. At the same time, honing your soft skills and developing your network are just as important as your technical skills. There's always a new skill to learn or a new group of people to meet.
What drew you to your specific career path? If you could start your career differently, what would you do differently?
I was drawn to do environmental work because I like the fact that I can have a direct impact on the air, water, and soil we all use everyday. If I could start my career a little differently, I would've chosen to pursue more environmental work at the start of my career. Sometimes your career/life will take you down a direction you weren't expecting. Enjoy the ride down that path and keep pursing what you want to do!
ASCE & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
How/Why did you get involved? Why did you choose to stay involved?
I started getting involved through the Mentorship Program. I became a Protege and my Mentor eventually became my boss at my previous job, where I was at for about 3 years. I kept choosing to stay involved and engaged in ASCE because the people here are some of the most hardworking engineers in OC and for me to call them my friends is more than I can ask for. It's always a good time with ASCE.
How has ASCE impacted your work and/or what is your favorite benefit of your involvement?
ASCE has impacted my work life, by having me standout among my peers at my company. I'm usually the go to person for ASCE questions in my office. My favorite part of being involved in ASCE, are all the moments where we're all laughing together. Those are usually followed by great memories and stories to be shared for a lifetime.
Who is someone you admire and why?
I admire my mom a lot. She's been working around the world since she was 21. Every time I talk about a problem I'm having, she always comes back with a level headed reason for everything. My mom taught me that the day-to-day problems will come and go, but your family and friends will be there for you for all the good and bad times.
If you have one piece of advice to give to young professionals what would it be?
The worst thing you can do for yourself is to not do something because you are afraid to fail or be embarrassed. Don't let anyone or anything scare you off from being the best person you can be. On the other side of absolute fear is ultimate bliss.
Lastly, what would be your personal motto?
"Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!"
If you missed the last (January-February 2020) Board Member Spotlight, Ruta Bandziulis, you can click here to read her article.
To view the archive of all past Member Spotlights, click here.