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A gavel with Jean-Louis Briaud's name on it, next to a metal desk sign indicating that he is president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Dr. Jean-Louis Briaud accepted the presidential pin and gavel from American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2020 president, K.N. Gunalan – with the help of digital technology – during the annual membership meeting as part of the ASCE 2020 convention, held virtually this year. | Image: Photo courtesy of the American Society of Civil Engineers
Dr. Jean-Louis Briaud, distinguished professor, Spencer J. Buchanan Chair Professor and Regent’s Fellow in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University and program manager at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, recently took the helm of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

He assumed the role of the 2021 ASCE president in a virtual ceremony held in late October.

His vision includes voting rights for ASCE student chapter members and increasing communication between members and the organization’s leadership. Briaud will represent the ASCE on the world stage, promoting the civil engineering profession and serving the organization’s more than 150,000 members.

“When you are president of a large organization, all you see are the tough decisions because most of the easy ones have been made before it reaches your desk,” he said.

Briaud said a quote from Dr. Lee Lowery, senior professor in the department, has stuck with him and guides his work.
Dr. Jean-Louis Briaud
Dr. Jean-Louis Briaud | Image: Texas A&M Engineering
“As Professor Lowery would say, ‘The only thing that does not die with you when you do is what you have given to others.’ I have been on the receiving end of this quote from many great colleagues in civil engineering,” Briaud said. “It is now time for me to pay it forward.”

Briaud emphasized communication during his campaign in 2019, and he bridged gaps during his year as president-elect, helping organize a summit between ASCE institutes and regions, as well as convening a student presidential group.

“Helping the students understand how important it is to be a member of ASCE to optimize excellence in your career is one of my most important goals,” he said.

His election as president of the ASCE is another chapter in a long career of service to the civil engineering profession. He has taught civil engineering for more than 40 years and views his teaching and mentoring of students as his most significant contribution.

“ASCE is our professional family. Being a member and helping the profession is a duty,” Briaud said.

Briaud’s teaching career began during his time as a teaching assistant in Canada. When he came to Texas A&M in March 1978, he stepped off the plane in a suit and tie, ready for a professional job interview only to be greeted by professor and head of the geotechnical division Dr. Harry Coyle in a cowboy hat with an open-collared shirt and an old pickup truck. After his initial surprise, Briaud discovered the people behind the cowboy culture and fell in love with the university.