Article Prepared By Gerard Hillenbrand, P.E
ASME’s Metropolitan Section, over the years, has developed a notable tradition by inviting our society’s president to address our membership on the state of our organization and its programs for future growth and achievement. This year’s President’s Night, held Thursday evening, March 15, 2012, at Con Edison headquarters in Manhattan, was a highly successful continuation of this tradition featuring ASME’s 130th President, Victoria A. Rockwell. This special meeting was attended by more than 70 mechanical engineers and engineering school students from throughout the New York Metropolitan area. The attendees received from Ms. Rockwell an excellent summary of ASME’s current status and her hopes for our society’s expansion and future accomplishments.
Participants at Presidents Night
After an enjoyable dinner reception featuring Irish-American delicacies commemorating that New York tradition of St. Patrick’s Day, Ms. Rockwell was introduced to the audience by Edward G. Ecock, P.E., Met Section’s Program Director. Victoria A. Rockwell is a graduate of Empire State College (Applied Science and Mathematics) and Union College (Mechanical Engineering) in Schenectady, NY . She has been an active member of ASME for 31 years and first distinguished herself as the energetic chair of the Buffalo, NY section. She has held many leadership positions in ASME including terms on the Board of Governors, Board of Directors, the ASME Foundation, and the Finance and Engineering Education Committees. Her engineering experience includes work at the Union Carbide Corporation, the Hoeschst Celanese Corporations specialty chemicals division, and the Air Liquide – USA Organization, where she currently serves as Director of Investment and Development. She resides with her family in Houston, TX where her current volunteer activities include active service with the Engineering, Science and Technology Council, the Society of Women Engineers, the Local Energy Network, and the Association of Engineering Societies of South Texas. She is the ultimate busy career engineer, a truly worthy witness to ASME’s quest for meaningful volunteer activism.
ASME President Victoria Rockwell addresses the audience
Mr. Ecock proceeded to introduce distinguished guests to the audience among who were our Executive Director, Thomas G. Loughlin, and this year’s honorees for distinguished service to ASME: Norman Savitt (25 years), Dr. Robert S. Vecchio, P.E. (25 years), and Sri K. Sam Sinha, P.E. (35 years). Dr. Vecchio and Mr. Sinha are the Principal and Director, respectively, of the prominent engineering firm of Lucius Pitkin, Inc. Also honored with a life membership award was Dr. Latif M. JiJi, P.E., the distinguished Herbert Kayser Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the City College of New York (CCNY). Dr. JiJi was educated at MIT (BSME), Carnegie-Mellon University (MS), and the University of Michigan (Phd), and has served the engineering profession for 58 years by teaching at the University of Toledo, New York University, the French National Scientific Research Institute, and as a Fulbright Scholar in Africa. For the past 20 years, he has served as faculty advisor for the very active and accomplished ASME student section at CCNY, for which he received several teaching and faculty advisor awards for outstanding performance.
After a brief review of her personal background, including being born and raised in Pennsylvania, relocating to New Mexico, marrying and raising several children, and relocating again to upstate New York, Ms. Rockwell proceeded to summarize ASME’s current status and programs. ASME works in a world where there are seven billion people, half of whom now live in urban areas. 2.6 billion of these souls lack sanitation, 1.3 billion lack access to clean water, and 1.4 billion have no connection to electricity. In this environment, ASME programs promote updated electrical generation and transmission, expanded engineering information transfer, optimized clean energy production, developed advanced materials with new standards, increasing the availability of clean water, and to advocate the green cities and global warming concerns related to our fragile surroundings. Obviously, these challenges are exciting times for engineers who must respond with energetic developments for solutions and workforce enhancements.
Ms. Rockwell’s verbal presentation was interspersed with several videos emphasizing her commentary. The first video summarized ASME’s global strategy which is to establish a list of priority problems, to develop solutions that are fully sustainable, to serve as a catalyst for cooperation with other engineering societies and like-minded groups, and to increase ASME’s impact by promoting information transfer, networking and expansion of engineering standards and certification.
The second video summarized the state of our society in the 2011 – 2012 activities year. ASME has 120,000 members and volunteers located in 150 countries all over the world with 88% located in North America, 5% in Asia, 3% in Europe, 3% in Latin America, and 2% in the Middle East. ASME maintains official offices in 21 overseas nations and is organized into four major institutes including public affairs outreach, community and knowledge, and the ASME Foundation, as well as the division to develop renewable forms of energy. ASME has 32 technical divisions, 221 individual sections, 565 sections maintaining and promoting standards, and 9 active groups cooperating with other engineering societies. All of these divisions and sections organize and participate in global conferences, periodic workshops, public affairs seminars, diversity and outreach programs, and efficient management of technical information distribution.
The third video concentrated on ASME’s future. Currently, our society generates $100 million in annual revenue and will strive to increase this revenue substantially by the year 2020 when membership is projected to total 300,000 with a 100% increase in student section activity. In the intergovernmental organizations and community activist groups, through its Engineers For Change (E4C) program. This E4C program will also emphasize the promotion with the IEEE and ASCE organizations. The notion of Engineers Week, expansion of scientific, technological, engineering and mathematics education, and growth of engineering and robotics competitions. Implicit in the E4C program is a continuing emphasis on student leadership and technological development.
The Question and Answer period was quite informative. Ms. Rockwell stated that, because of its tax-exempt status, ASME cannot directly lobby for specific proposals. However, that does not prevent ASME members from voting and engaging in political activity, which she vigorously endorsed. For example, members should advocate for increased federal and state government funding for construction, education and research and development. Also, members should not forget to increase their recruitment efforts among high school students and teachers concerning the advantages of an engineering education. As always, there is an urgent need for increased member involvement in mentoring programs and judging for student competitions. All attendees were invited to actively participate in its expanded program for ASME success in the future.
Ms. Rockwell concluded her remarks by thanking the Met Section for its invitation and her enjoyment in talking to the many members and students in attendance. Ms. Rockwell then received a well-earned standing ovation. Meetings such as this one are typical of Met Section’s programs throughout the year. We look forward to greeting and meeting each of you at our future activities. Go, ASME!
Attendee asking a question during President’s Night
Incidentally, ASME annually distributes financial allocations to every section. Also, ASME will fund special projects at the section level. Sections are encouraged to submit suitable proposals to headquarters where they will receive careful and interested consideration.
Good luck to all!!