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An Invitation: ASCE’s Congressional Fellow Program Accepting Applications

BY 
December 16, 2013
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“Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried,” said Winston Churchill. It’s safe to say the man had a point.

For the past 18 years, ASCE has selected a member as part of ASCE’s Congressional Fellow program and allowed them to work and learn on Capitol Hill.  A year later, as most return to their lives as civil engineers, ASCE has gained a member who understands what Congress does, how it does it, and how it works (and why it sometimes does not).  Congress, on the other hand, has gained a better understanding of real world issues and perhaps a better understanding of the impact – good and bad – of its actions.

Consider this is your invitation to leave the orderly world of engineering behind for a year and be immersed in the decidedly unordered world of the United States Congress. More plainly, in honor of the recent passing of Lou Reed, ASCE is looking for a member interested in taking a walk on the wild side.

ASCE’s Congressional Fellow spends one year working as a Congressional staffer.  To date, eighteen ASCE members have served as an ASCE Congressional Fellow; all emerged from the experience unscathed, and even, encouraged by their experience.  The ASCE Fellows join with more than 30 colleagues from 22 other engineering and scientific organizations to bring engineering and scientific advice to members of Congress.  Since its founding by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1973, the Congressional Fellows Program has had several objectives.  First and foremost has been to create a cadre of Congressional staffers who understand science and engineering and enhance the capabilities of Congress to deal with those issues.  A second objective has been to develop a group of scientists and engineers who understand Congress and who will return to help the science and engineering community improve its ability to impact public policy.  The third objective has been to expose members of Congress and their staffs to the ways of thinking in scientific and engineering fields.  The final objective has been to make it easier for the general scientific and engineering community to deliver messages to Congress.

The Congressional Fellowship is open to any ASCE member who is a U.S. citizen.  Factors to be weighed by the selection committee include advanced degrees, registration as a Professional Engineer, involvement in ASCE, public policy experience and professional experience.  Additionally, the selection committee must also be sensitive to possible conflicts of interest.

If you think you have what it takes, and want to see what Mr. Churchill was talking about, then please apply. It is said that Congress is where extremely smart people work to make something happen and equally smart people work to make sure it doesn’t. As engineers, we like to think that the solution to the equation 1+1 is not negotiable, no matter how hard some may try. So, if are you interested in watching the sausage being made and are ready to dive head first into the very epicenter of our 237 year old experiment in self-government, then you might be ready to be an ASCE Congressional Fellow.

The deadline for the 2014-2015 Fellowship is March 7, 2014. Please take the time to learn more about the Congressional Fellows program or contact Martin Hight, Senior Manager, Government Relations at mhight@asce.org.

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