July 15, 2015

Jean-Louis Briaud, PhD, PE, D.GE, Dist.M.ASCE, distinguished professor and holder of the Spencer J. Buchanan Chair in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, was recently elected technical region director in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for 2016-2018. Briaud brings many years of experience to the position, and has innovative visions for the technical branch of ASCE. He wants a more balanced structure that better represents the importance of the institutes, whose publications generate around 40 percent of the budget for ASCE. He also feels there needs to be a shift in focus from numbers to quality education in civil engineering.

The Technical Region is comprised of the members of the eight ASCE Institutes. The Technical Region has the lead responsibility for ASCE goals to facilitate the advancement of technology, encourage and provide the tools for lifelong learning, and promote professionalism. The operation of the Technical Region is conducted by a Board of Governors (TRBG), which is comprised of two representatives from each Institute and the two ASCE directors elected by the Technical Region.

When asked about his vision statement, Briaud responded, “ASCE is one of my top priorities. Among many leadership positions, I have been President of the Geo-Institute and President of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering; every time I have first listened to the member's wishes and then concentrated my efforts on doing things that would make the biggest difference for the members. I enjoy structural engineering, I work with many hydraulic engineers in erosion studies, my father was a contractor so construction is in my blood, offshore is also one of my research interests, I keep thinking of ways to improve transportation.”

He added, “I am basically curious and interested in many aspects of our civil engineering profession. Representing fairly and forcefully the Institutes would be my goal as Technical Region Director. Technical issues are the very solid foundation on which ASCE is built and the Institutes deserve a lot of credit and respect for the success of ASCE. Making sure that they get that respect would be one of my goals.”

The TRBG strives to coordinate the interaction between the Society's Institutes, collectively represent the Technical Region interests, and facilitate solutions to issues common to the Institutes.

TRBG Responsibilities include selecting the official candidate(s) for Technical Region Director, recommending up to four nominees for President-Elect to the Board of Direction Nominating Committee, conducting peer reviews of Institutes, contributing to periodic updates to the institute operating procedures, recommending candidates to serve on society committees and task committees, responding to Society issues that impact Institutes, recommending individuals to serve on the OCEA Jury, and any other duties authorized by the Institutes or directed by the ASCE Board of Direction. 

“It is time to make an effort to concentrate on improving the engineering practice and education. There needs to be a focus on quality, not quantity; we need to raise the bar and encourage pioneers and think tanks more often,” said Briaud.

A distinguished member of ASCE and a registered professional engineer, Briaud received his bachelor’s degree from the Ecole Speciale des Travaux Publics in France in 1972, and his doctorate from the University of Ottawa in Canada in 1979. His expertise is in foundation engineering and more generally geotechnical engineering. He is currently president of the Federation of International Geoengineering Societies. He has served as president of the Association of Geotechnical Engineering Professors in the U.S., and the Geo-Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.  In 2009, he was inducted as a Diplomate in the Academy of Geo-Professionals (AGP) as part of its inaugural class.

ASCE represents more than 146,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 174 countries.  Founded in 1852, ASCE is the nation’s oldest engineering society. Through the expertise of its active membership, ASCE is a leading provider of technical and professional conferences and continuing education, the world’s largest publisher of civil engineering content, and an authoritative source for codes and standards that protect the public. The Society advances civil engineering technical specialties through eight dynamic institutes, and leads with its many professional- and public-focused programs.