Cory Powers enjoys watching the roots take hold.
Powers, a 31-year-old Certified in Plumbing Design ASPE member based at the Milwaukee office of HGA, a nationwide architecture, engineering and planning firm, has been the liaison for the ASPE Young Professionals special-interest group for the past two years. And on the cusp of the 2016 ASPE Convention and Expo Oct. 28-Nov. 2 at the Phoenix Convention Center, this group – AYP for short – has come a long way since its formation four years ago, and Powers has been an integral cog in its development.
“We are pretty grassroots,” Powers states. “It was obvious that the population of our younger members was not a representation of the younger members in our industry. When you looked at the ASPE board, whether it was the Society’s board or a local chapter, it was mostly made up of individuals over the age of 40. We now have AYP liaisons on the majority of our chapter boards.”
Bill Hughes, a past president of ASPE, had the flashpoint idea to start the AYP program.
“I was sitting at home one day and the thought came into my head,” Hughes says. “Why are we trying to kill ourselves trying to figure out what young people want? Why not put someone on the board who can tell us?”
Powers quickly jumped at the opportunity to lead the program and sit at board meetings. He is grateful the AYP group has been backed by the higher-ups since the beginning.
“In any organization, if your leadership does not believe in the goal, it is not going to work,” he states. “Bill stood by the AYP group. It is a testament to him in believing in our demographic. It is where we stand today.”
Currently, there are 1,100 members that qualify to take part in AYP. There are no membership dues to participate in AYP and currently the group has 32 liaisons in place at the local chapter level. Powers is in a non-voting role at board meetings, but loves being able to have the AYP voice heard. He sees that speaking up during debates has some impact.
“Sometimes I am the voice and people might say, ‘Oh, maybe I don’t want to vote this way because our younger engineers and designers probably do not see it from that side of the fence,’” he explains. “That has been really cool.”