Joy in the RACE Journey
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
– John Bingham, spokesperson of the slow-running movement

The Pinewood Derby has long been one of the most admired and remembered activities found in Cub Scouts, a scouting organization for boys age 7 to 11. Each boy is given a block of wood and four wheels with some basic guidelines to make a vehicle, keep it within a certain weight limit, and then race it. I recently attended one of these events and was amazed at the diversity of designs stemming from one block of wood. After all the heats were finished, there was a very distinct 1st place winner, and a very happy little boy. However, looking back on the event, I realized the race was only one small part at the culmination of an entire journey. All who were involved that night were winners because there was joy to be found throughout the night; siblings participated, dad's watched with competitive eagerness, and even I brought my cars from decades ago to see how they would hold up (not so well!). Pictures, smiles, and treats made for a complete and enjoyable evening. Engineering, I think, can be incredibly similar. There are basic design guidelines of physics, mechanics, and gravity that we must adhere to, and most projects have their unique requirements, but all solutions are welcome. Some are sleek and admirable, some are fast to construction, some endure the test of time, some get replaced, and others are seemingly mundane and exist below the radar. There also seems to be without fail, a race at the end of every project to finish it complete, on time, and on budget. But obviously, any submittal is much more than the stack of paper that is produced. That paper represents countless hours of coordination and compromise, engineering and economics, teamwork and trials. It represents a journey. Regardless of the final outcome, there are unique opportunities to be had during the process.

Dieter Uchtdorf, a former German fighter and commercial pilot, said "Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end? We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time!"

Are you waiting for that one project to end, or that one co-worker to leave, or even retirement before you enjoy your day?! ASCE can help bring a new outlook to your career and would like to be part of your journey as you serve your profession, involve your community, and experience your life as a civil engineer. There is always so much going on that seems to be planned, hosted, attended, and enjoyed by the same people. I invite you to take your block of engineering wood and see if you can't change it by becoming an officer on an ASCE Branch or Section Board, or speaking at a luncheon, or providing a contact for a jobsite tour, or volunteering at any of the community outreach opportunities posted in our newsletter each month. Shall I go on? You can increase your donations, be a liaison to the university student chapters, or provide project spotlight articles for the Engineerogram. Whatever you want to offer, we can use your expertise and thoughts to take this wonderful organization on a new journey. So come join us!

Do you have questions, comments or thoughts, or are you looking for a way to get involved? Please contact us at:


Kyle Sanford