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UIC hosts inaugural ‘ASCE Legends’ event

ASCE legends at UIC

“I like the saying ‘You don’t know what you don’t know,’” said Michelle Calcagno, a student in Civil and Materials Engineering (CME) at UIC.

She said this after successfully hosting the inaugural “ASCE Legends” event on February 27, in the CME department.

“ASCE Legends” is a national American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) initiative being implemented for the first time in the nation. It is designed to pair seasoned and retired civil engineers (ASCE Legends) – as mentors – with younger members and students in a collective effort to share expertise, experiences, and wisdom as part of the national ASCE’s Diversity and Inclusion best practices.

“We are proud that UIC – with the help of ASCE-IL – is leading this initiative for the first time in the history of ASCE,” said CME Professor Hossein Ataei.

Calcagno has been working tirelessly with UIC faculty, ASCE, and a variety of engineers from across the country to make this event a reality.

“Making this event happen took a lot of effort, so the fact that it did happen is a success in my eyes. I was very pleased with the amount of Legends that participated. I am very appreciative of their willingness to help guide future engineers,” she said. “As an older student, I already know who I am and what I want, and I still find the wisdom and experience of the Legends to be invaluable. I hope my classmates will appreciate and take advantage of this opportunity to learn from these engineering pioneers.”

Calcagno said her favorite part of the event was hearing how the Legends ended up in civil engineering and watching them interact with each other.

“It was amazing to see how they were all connected to each other in some way, whether it was a previous project or colleagues,” she said.

The entire event was a way to show other civil engineering students the importance of having a mentor.

“It helps to have someone around to open your eyes to things that you might have never thought about. It helps to have someone to answer the many questions that will arise. It helps to have someone that you can feel comfortable with to ask any question that comes up. A mentor eases the stress of navigating the uncharted path on your own,” she said.

The idea of reaching out to experienced engineers comes from her own experience. Calcagno seeks out mentors and said she has many with different perspectives.

“That is one of the things that I have done right in life. I always seek out help from someone that knows or has the experience. I always have many questions that I need answers to,” she said.

With the first event completed, the next step is to do what engineers do best; evaluate and build on it to make it better.

“This was to be considered the kick-off event, so it was just a sample of what is to come,” said Calcagno. “Future events will be more intimate, focusing on a few Legends at a time instead of the whole group. There will be much more student participation at future events.”