Engineering is essentially that field which seeks to find concrete solutions to a wide range of problems. It uses principles in mathematics and sciences to produce structures, systems, products, and devices, among others.
Take civil engineering for example, which is considered to be one of the oldest subfields in engineering. This body of knowledge deals with the planning, design, development, construction, and maintenance of structures and infrastructures like roads, railways, airports, bridges, harbors, dams, irrigation projects, power plants, and water and sewerage systems. There is a high demand for this field because of its critical role in the modern society.
That gives more pressure on civil engineers today to be aware of the challenges that the profession is facing. It no longer enough to do what is only required to do on the job, but it is also important that civil engineers are knowledgeable on the present issues dominating the field in the hopes that they will be addressed right away. After all, civil engineers are catalysts in the modern world.
ASCE’s senior managing director Casey Dinges asks leaders across industries on their opinions regarding these issues:
Creating sustainable communities that address the environment, economy and society
Countries around the world are now obsessed with sustainable solutions in an attempt to reverse our carbon footprint. And civil engineers have big roles to portray in this effort.
“Any investment you make in creating sustainable communities gives you a better economy, jobs, more affordable housing choices, and a much cleaner environment,” said Harriet Tegoning, director of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Economic Resilience. It should be part of any civil engineer’s advocacy to promote sustainability at a time when we need it the most.
Photo via Archello
Reinforcing and rebuilding America’s failing infrastructure system
ASCE gave America’s infrastructure a D+, which means that there is a lot of work to be done to improve. If you ask award-winning journalist and author Dan McNichol, who traveled the country in his Hudson while taking notes on USA’s infrastructure, he would say that “America’s infrastructure is as old, rusty, and energy defunct as this old 1949 Hudson.”
Changing the business mindset to include sustainability and profit from it too
It might be thought the pushing towards sustainability hurts businesses, including those in civil engineering. But author and speaker Bob Willard begs to disagree.
He said, “Sustainability isn’t a sacrifice, it’s more of an advantage. If they are smart about it they can make 51 to 81 percent more profit.
“They don’t think that the objective of looking after the environment and society is going to help them make money,” he added. That should explain why it must be hard to convince business leaders in sustainability related to civil engineering, but Willard believes that it should not be that way.
Redefining mobility for a growing population
Transportation is a crucial part of civil engineering. While self-driving cars are not entirely part of the field, they have a profound effect on how transportation systems work, which civil engineers deal with.
“There are a lot of great opportunities not only from a safety perspective, but imagine not idling as much,” Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority said.
He added that apart from self-driving cars, the integrated of smart vehicle technology will take safety and transportation efficiency even further.
Building platforms for renewable energy exploration and reducing the footprint of current energy practices
It’s all about renewable energy for most of infrastructure now, needless to say. And now industry leaders are saying that shale energy is the future.
Douglas W. Duncan, acting coordinator of the Energy Resources Program, U.S. Geological Survey, agrees. He said that shale energy is “absolutely a game changer.”
However, civil engineers will have to take charge in its exploration. Present ways in harvesting the energy have seismic and water-pollution consequences, which can rather be prevented.