Carnegie Mellon University

Martin Fertal

April 19, 2021

Martin Fertal Joins ASCE as New COO

Martin Fertal (BS ‘83, MS ’84) was recently named Chief Operating Officer at ASCE, an organization he’s proud to note was “founded in 1852 and is the nation’s oldest engineering society.” As COO, he’s responsible for managing the society’s 150,000 members as well as its nine technical institutes, publications department, continuing education, and career services programming. 

“I work across all elements of the organization—from communications to government relations to membership, marketing, and the IT department—to make sure we’re advancing the society’s goals as effectively as possible,” Fertal adds.

Fertal mentions that working at ASCE is a complementary change from his civil engineering career path. Today, he’s focused on business operations and strategic planning, relying on his problem-solving experience to prepare for and adjust to industry changes. “It’s about understanding the problems your clients may have, figuring out the best solutions, and effectively communicating them. Whether you’re working on detailed technical problems or large-scale business opportunities, the same basic skills we learn as engineers are what drive us forward.”

A Pittsburgh native, Fertal says he has a “soft spot for the city and for all things CMU—especially the people.” He asserts that his experience at CEE set a strong foundation for his career, and specifically points out the value the school places on critical thinking and mentorship. “The opportunity to work with and learn from so many great teachers and other students was really important.”

Prior to joining ASCE, Fertal worked to model the effects of weapons and explosives against structures. He explains that the Federal Aviation Administration’s civil aviation security division became interested in the work from a counter-terrorism perspective, leading to the development of custom applications for reducing risk at airport terminals and other facilities. “We were awarded FAA’s innovation award for our work, which is something I remain very proud of. Not only for the award, but because of the important public safety mission it served.”

Fertal is excited to announce some of the important projects going on at ASCE, including the organization’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which was recently released with support from government officials on both sides of the aisle including U.S Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg.  “This year’s Report Card is especially important, not only because of the critical needs some of our nation’s infrastructure face, but because of the significant infrastructure investment decisions before our government right now,” Fertal states.

He’s also working to incorporate some lessons-learned from the pandemic into the society’s long-term plans, starting with more virtual offerings. “Face-to-face meetings and events often require significant investment of time and money which can be a barrier to entry, and so by delivering more of our services virtually, we can expand our reach in a more equitable, sustainable manner.” Fertal believes that this transition will be beneficial to both ASCE members and to those who work within the organization—requiring them to think outside of the box while acquiring new talent sets.