The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE’s) mission is to provide essential value to members, their careers, our partners, and the public by developing leadership, advancing technology, advocating lifelong learning, and promoting the profession. Founded in 1852, ASCE represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. ASCE’s vision is to position engineers as global leaders building a better quality of life.

Key Dates

  • Call for submissions opens | October 28, 2020
  • All submissions due | February 8, 2021
  • Author notification | Late March, 2021

Submit Your Proposal

Convention Purpose

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Convention is the Society’s premiere membership event. It is the single annual opportunity where the entire Society joins together reflecting the diversity that ASCE encompasses. The convention program is designed to have integrated, multi-disciplinary, technical, and educational components to meet the needs of the profession.

The program will follow the convention topics detailed in the topics section on this page. These topics are used to define a recurring convention program that draws attendees back year after year, focusing on the important issues affecting the profession. The program provides benefits to attendees on an educational and professional level and value to their employers by enhancing staff’s technical, managerial, and leadership skills.

Target Audience

The convention target audience is leaders in the civil engineering profession across all disciplines and levels of experience. Targeted attendees include all ASCE members, institute members, students, younger professionals, and seasoned experts.

Convention Topics

The program topics cover seven key topic areas within the profession. Each topic area has a set of sub-topics to clearly define presentation proposals. Authors should select the topic area for the general subject and then choose the more specific sub-topic to better describe the presentation and learning objectives for the proposed session.

1: State of the Industry / Profession

The topic includes presentations from recognized thought leaders, corporate leaders in engineering, corporate leaders from related fields, Institute leaders, leaders in engineering education, leaders from cooperating industry organizations, and political leaders. Presentations are intended to introduce industry and profession level topics from a leadership outlook, explore multi-discipline viewpoints, examine the civil engineering profession and how it functions, and show how civil engineering affects industry and the public.

  • Innovation
  • Workforce
  • Globalization
  • Technology
  • Education
  • Life cycle
  • Big data
  • Smart cities

2: Professional Development

The topic is intended to provide sessions based on the needs assessment of attendees and engineering firms. The sub-topics are designed to educate and enhance the individual skills, contribute to career development and provide knowledge that can be applied to their jobs. Varying levels of training and development (first year, 101 series; second year, 201 series, etc.) are desired to attract new and returning attendees.

  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Management skills
  • Marketing
  • Business development
  • Small business ownership
  • Public relations
  • Project management
  • Value engineering
  • Employee development
  • Diversity
  • Communications
  • Risk analysis & management
  • Remote culture

3: Multi-Disciplinary Technical

This topic is intended to bring the best of the best from the Institutes’ conferences, ASCE conferences and other profession’s conferences, multi-discipline issues, innovation, best practices, hot issues, case studies, perspectives from allied professions affecting civil engineers, and new concepts. The sessions should approach their topic from a multi-discipline perspective, focus on issues important to the civil engineering profession, and provide interactive information exchange.

  • Forensic investigations (case study)
  • Risk analysis
  • Infrastructure
  • Sustainability
  • Environmental
  • Unique project approaches/solutions

4: Natural and Man-Made Disasters

The topic is intended to explore disasters from a multi-disciplinary point of view. It will look at the natural and/or man-made causes, prediction, present codes and standards and suggested revisions, effects, and how to mitigate effects by component or macro approaches. The session may contain reports from ASCE/Institute Disaster Response Teams and investigate case studies, lessons learned, and discuss sustainability, and/ or resilience design concepts.

  • Causes
  • Effects
  • Resiliency
  • Mitigation
  • Risk asset-management
  • Response
  • Adaptation to a changing climate
  • Changes to design standards or codes

5: History & Heritage

This topic will cover significant civil achievements within the region of t city and/or of national importance appeal for all attendees. Presentations on projects close to the convention site, National Historical Civil Landmarks should be highlighted. Presenters should present multi-disciplinary views the importance, design, construction costs, public process, value, and innovation of the project(s) being presented.

  • Landmarks and other significant projects
  • Major events
  • Lasting significance and relevance modern practice
  • Biographies

6: Strategic Issues / Public Policy

This topic is to present a forum to discuss the progress and direction of public policies and their effect on the profession. Sessions are intended to present public policy current status, to drill down on practicable application of policies, how to utilize ASCE policies to affect political and legislative changes, to present case studies, and investigate future directions. Presenters should be both ASCE members and outside thought leaders from academia, private practice, and public practice who are actively pursuing solutions and employing tools related to ASCE’s strategic issues and policies. Presenters could also be political or legislative leaders who understand the issues and the environment surrounding them.

  • ASCE Strategic issues
  • Strategic issues impacting the profession
  • Infrastructure funding
  • Implications of not funding infrastructure
  • Report Cards (national, state, regional)
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Changing regulations
  • Political advocacy

7: Significant Projects

This topic is intended to cover mega projects and multidisciplinary views on the feasibility, planning, design, construction, costs, public process, value, innovation, environmental, sustainability, and resiliency of the project discussed.

Conference Program and Sessions

To appeal to the broad and diverse groups within the engineering profession, the convention program will be comprised of a well-rounded mix of sessions from the seven main topic areas. Authors may submit a full or partial session idea and the Technical Program Subcommittee will work with selected submitting authors to merge similar ideas within a category to create a session. Submitting a proposal to the convention constitutes an agreement that, if your proposal is accepted, the author(s) will register for the convention (either at full or daily rate), attend the convention, and present their work in person. (Virtual “live” participation if the convention is virtual again in 2021)

Many technical sessions will include various presentation styles. The Technical Program Subcommittee will work with session leaders to ensure the presentation components for a particular session involve a suitable mix of topics, and the proposed presentation style is the most appropriate format for the subject matter.

Whether proposing a 30, 60 or 90 minute session, the proposed time must include the time for a question and answer period. When proposing a roundtable or panel discussion, speakers do not need to be identified at the time of the abstract submission; but you will be responsible for securing the participants once your abstract is accepted.

Types of Concurrent Program Sessions

Sessions are scheduled concurrently throughout the convention and are based on the convention’s established topic categories. Please note that submissions may be combined with similarly identified topics at the Technical Program Subcommittee’s discretion. Authors will be notified in advance and have an opportunity to discuss the combined session format before it is finalized.

Roundtable Discussion (60 or 90 minutes)

In these sessions, a group of experts on the given topic review and discuss specialized, professional matters before the audience on an equal basis. This type of session does not include a moderator or facilitator and is more of a conversation format with no formal question or answer period but instead allows the audience to participate and ask questions during the entire session. Rooms for roundtable discussions are set theater-style with a riser and chairs for speakers at the front of the room.

Lecture Style and Interactive (60 or 90 minutes)

These sessions may include one to three speakers presenting on different aspects of the same topic. It is not a panel discussion with a moderator (see below). Authors may propose partial sessions of 30 minutes or full sessions at 60 or 90 minutes. Rooms for lecture style and interactive sessions are typically set theater-style with a lectern in the front of the room.

Point / Counterpoint with Questions & Answers (90 minutes)

This panel discussion is a technique using a group of individuals chosen to debate a topic in the presence of an audience. The panel should not exceed a total of 6 individuals (up to 3 per side) with a facilitator to facilitate the discussion and the question and answer session. This room is typically set theater-style with two head tables.

Panel Discussions (60 or 90 minutes)

A panel discussion is an instructional technique using a group of people chosen to discuss a topic in the presence of an audience. The panel should not exceed 4 individuals with a moderator/facilitator to facilitate the discussion and the question and answer period from the audience. The Q&A session is typically between 10 to 20 minutes in duration. This room is typically set theater-style with a head table for a maximum of four speakers.

Submission Requirements

  • All proposals must be submitted via ASCE’s online paper management system.
  • Proposal must be free of materials and/or language that discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, ethnicity, religion, physical ability, or sexual orientation.
  • All submissions must include the submitting author’s full name, telephone number and email address.
  • Proposal must be free of personal/corporation-specific marketing.
  • Both the main topic and a sub-topic must be selected to be considered.

Submission due date | February 8, 2021

Submit Your Proposal

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be selected by the convention’s Technical Program Subcommittee based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the defined convention topics and sub-topics.
  • Interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary applications.
  • Potential to attract and stimulate cross-cutting and collaborative discussions.
  • Timeliness of the topic.
  • Practical application of information to be presented.
  • Practical and clearly defined learning objectives.

Scheduling of Program Sessions

Program sessions are scheduled throughout the convention from Thursday, October 7, through Saturday, October 9, between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m, US Central Time. Program sessions will only be held during the official dates and times of the ASCE Convention. Your submission indicates the availability to present a session on any of the dates and times listed.

Proposal/Abstract Submission Process

Session proposals allow the Technical Program Subcommittee to develop a comprehensive convention program that will be both valuable and interesting for all attendees. Your proposal must contain all three components described below including your email address and telephone number. Submissions without the completed information in full and containing a comprehensive session topic description will not be considered.

The Technical Program Subcommittee reserves the right to combine abstracts/topics to create a session.

Program Abstract (200-250 words)

The Convention Technical Program Subcommittee is seeking abstracts that align with the convention topic areas. Describe the session topic and its relevance to the convention and participants, what the attendees will take away from the session and how the presentation will be made within the 200 to 250 word abstract. Submitting authors must provide enough detail to convey all of the aspects of the topic the speakers intend to discuss in a session.

Session Format

Please describe the proposed format for how the session will be conducted—including the number of speakers, length of presentations, anticipated manner of audience participation, and other similarly related information. If possible, please identify all speakers, panel members, moderators or facilitators by name, affiliation, and include their phone numbers and email addresses.

Learning Objectives

Learning objectives are needed to identify and award PDHs during the Convention. Submitting authors must include 3 learning objectives for each session. The learning objectives should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. They must also be clear, concise, and reflect what the attendees will achieve/learn by participating in the session. Submissions without learning objectives will not be considered for inclusion in the Convention program.

Follow these guidelines when writing the objectives:

  • A statement that clearly communicates what the participant will be able to demonstrate at the conclusion of the session, including conditions and criteria of performance
  • Measurable
  • Feedback from participants demonstrating skills or knowledge obtained

The following is an example of a learning objective which complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard:

  • "Identify four principal structural properties of aluminum according to the 2015 Aluminum Design Manual" (instead of the vague “Know the principal structural properties of aluminum.”)

Learning objectives that comply with the ANSI/ IACET Standard must use one condition, one action verb, and one standard or criterion.

Revisions and Combinations

ASCE staff and the Technical Program Subcommittee members may propose changes to session proposals in an effort to manage content and fit the available programming times. Sessions may be accepted conditionally based on such changes.

Submit Your Proposal

Key Dates

  • Call for submissions opens | October 28, 2020
  • All submissions due | February 8, 2021
  • Author notification | Late March, 2021