Virtual Emerging Leaders in Engineering Summit

Friday, October 23rd, 9:10 AM - 2:30 PM

We had an exciting lineup of speakers, plenary talks, and panel discussions covering a wide range of topics in civil and environmental engineering. The unusual year gave us a unique opportunity to bring forward-thinking, dynamic, and successful leaders to Cal Poly from across California with a simple click of a Zoom Link.

This event was free for all students and alumni!

Keynote | 9:10 AM - 10:00 AM 

Be A Leader at Every Stage

Speaker: Jim O'Brien - President of O'Brien Associates

Description: You can be a leader in any space that you're in regardless of your experience. Leaders aren't born, they're made and it all starts with taking that first step. Hear from Jim O'Brien about how you can take that first step and strategies to help you confidently navigate your role as a leader in engineering.

Moderator: Dr. Charles Chadwell

Link to Presentation

▶ Zoom Recording  

Session 1 | 10:10 AM - 11 AM

What is the Future of Civil Engineering? 

Panelists: Chad Pruett (Ashley & Vance Engineering), Kari Wagner (Wallace Group), Jay Walter (GHD), Chris Metzger (Mott MacDonald)

Description: This multi-disciplinary panel addresses questions about the state of Civil Engineering practice now in the context of current reality and future trends.

Moderators: Dr. Charles Chadwell, Heidi Ma

▶ Zoom Recording


What is the Future of Environmental Engineering?

Panelists: Mike Nunley (MKN & Associates), Hayley Farr (Langan), Mike Chang (Cornerstone Earth Group)

Description: In the context of climate change, renewable energy, and clean air, soil, and water; the environmental engineering industry is changing rapidly.  Come hear what industry leaders have to say about what is the now and the next for ENVE.

Moderators: Dr. Amr El Badawy, Keon Feldsien

▶ Zoom Recording


Session 2 | 11:10 AM - 12:00 PM

Succeeding Through Failure

Panelists: Marianne Wilson (ZFA Structural Engineers), Bruce Daseking (McGuire & Hester), Eric Chase (RGH Geo)

Description: Mistakes happen. How do you overcome them and prevent them from holding you back? What challenges as a young engineer did you overcome and how do you view them now as an experienced professional?  This panel represents different sectors but all have dealt with the challenges of learn by failing, picking up the pieces, and then doing better to succeed.    

Moderators: Dr. Garrett Hall, Katherine Lee

▶ Zoom Recording

A Day in the Life of an Early Career Engineer 

Panelists: Sebastian Kufa (Webcor), Omar Khan (Caltrans), Vidhi Sachdeva (Stantec)

Description: What does a day in the life of an early career professional look like? What is important in order to succeed as a young professional? And how does your company/org support you? How do you cope with imposter syndrome? How do you figure out where you “fit in”?  This panel is comprised of early-career professionals, Cal Poly graduates, who are finding their groove.   

Moderators: Dr. Shams Tanvir, Meagan Chan

▶ Zoom Recording

Session 3| 12:10 PM - 1:00 PM

Non-Traditional Engineers 

Panelists: Forrest Petrich (Peace Corps), Matt Pearce (Old SLO BBQ), Mark Fischer (Firestone Walker Brewing), Andrew Descary (U.S. Navy)

Description: What other career paths can I pursue with an engineering degree? What do I need to do during my undergrad to pursue these? What inspired you to pursue them?  This panel discussion session has a number of Cal Poly graduates that have leveraged their CE/ENVE degreed in ways that they never imagined.  

Moderators: Dr. Rebekah Oulton, Keon Feldstein

▶ Zoom Recording

Inclusive Diversity - Diversity Construction 

Speaker: Granite Jorge Quezada - Vice President of Diversity

Description: Hear from Granite VP of Diversity about how Granite has prioritized creating a culture of inclusive diversity and how you can start a career in construction. 

Moderators: Dr.  Hani Alzraiee

▶ Zoom Recording




How To Succeed in Virtual Networking 

Panelists: Ryan Jewe and Allison Galuszka (Kimley-Horn)

Description: The virtual environment has changed how we network and create connections. How can you show your personality/who you are in a way that is meaningful and makes you stand out? How can I prepare myself to feel confident during my internship and job search?  This session geared toward training you to be effective in your virtual professional skills as you prepare to enter the workforce.  

Moderators: Dr. Kimberly Mastako, Meagan Chan

▶ Zoom Recording


Session 4 | 1:10 PM - 2:00 PM

Grad School - Student Perspective

Panelists: Sean Reece (Cal Poly MBA), Diego Rivera (MIT Civil Engineering Master's), Anika Narula (Cal Poly Civil & Environmental Engineering Master's), Nick Oettle (UC Berkeley Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering PhD)

Description: Many of our 3rd and 4th-year students are coming to a point: Grad School or No Grad School.  This is a panel of recent Cal Poly graduates that have gone on for MBAs, PhDs, and MS at various institutions.  Come hear their stories.  

Moderators: Dr. Robb Moss, Jose de Jesus Chalapa

▶ Zoom Recording

Keeping True to Your Values

Panelists: Steve Gurske (Whiting-Turner), Andrew Fremier (Bay Area Metro), Richard McLane (Traylor Bros.)

Description: As professionals, we are faced with difficult decisions. How can you stick to your values when you make these difficult decisions and are pressured by external factors? How do you know if you’re making the right decision?  The topic of Engineering Ethics is at the core of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  This panel discussion of industry professionals talks about their challenges and guiding principles around engineering ethics and challenging decisions they have faced. 

Moderators: Dr. Dan Jansen, Katherine Lee

▶ Zoom Recording

Challenging Today, Reinventing Tomorrow

Panelists: Tyler Kirkendall and Tre Sayles (Jacobs Engineering)

Description: In order to succeed, we need to be resilient and be willing to adapt to changing environments and problems. Hear from experienced pros at Jacobs about how they navigate challenges and adapting.

Moderators: Dr. Tryg Lundquist, Heidi Ma

▶ Zoom Recording




Thank you to this year's sponsors!

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