5 Issues Dominating the Civil Engineering Profession

April 6, 2016
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As an engineer, you are always tackling new challenges. It is important for you to stay informed on issues affecting your profession, so you can be prepared with better solutions for tomorrow. Watch these videos from the Interchange series as ASCE’s senior managing director Casey Dinges interviews industry leaders on the hot topics dominating the civil engineering profession:

1. Creating sustainable communities that address the environment, economy and society

One of civil engineers’ greatest responsibilities in addition to reinforcing our infrastructure will be to design and develop the sustainable communities of the future.

“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. Engineers are not only the builders of these communities but will be a primary driving voice for advocacy as well.

Click here for part two of “Creating Sustainable Communities”

2. Reinforcing and rebuilding America’s failing infrastructure system

“America’s infrastructure is as old, rusty, and energy defunct as this old 1949 Hudson,” said Dan McNichol, an award-winning journalist and author, who traveled the country in his Hudson journaling America’s crumbling infrastructure. ASCE’s latest infrastructure report card gave America a D+, signs that there is a lot of work to be done.

Part of the journey is raising the money to rebuild. According to McNichol, a lot of money is sitting on the sideline – only one percent of America’s infrastructure is privately funded compared to Canada’s 25 percent.

3. Changing the business mindset to include sustainability and profit from it too

“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,” said Bob Willard, author and speaker, Sustainability Advantage, on what businesses can gain by adopting sustainability.

Convincing business leaders to adopt sustainability has been a hard sell, but it shouldn’t be. “They don’t think that the objective of looking after the environment and society is going to help them make money,” said Willard.

4. Redefining mobility for a growing population

Self-driving cars aren’t a thing of the future, they are part of our current reality. Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, believes autonomous vehicles will have a profound effect on transportation. “There are a lot of great opportunities not only from a safety perspective, but imagine not idling as much,” Iwasaki said.

What’s more, he believes connected vehicle technology, which allows vehicles to communicate with each other several times each second and react to each other’s environments, will take safety and transportation efficiency even further.

5. Building platforms for renewable energy exploration and reducing the footprint of current energy practices

One of the key issues surrounding fixing America’s infrastructure is the energy that will fuel the growth. Sustainable energy is found in many forms, including shale energy, which continues to be a growing source for energy.

“Shale energy is absolutely a game changer,” said Douglas W. Duncan, acting coordinator, Energy Resources Program, U.S. Geological Survey. But it doesn’t come without its challenges, as engineers will have to lead the charge in exploration and development of more sustainable ways of harvesting the energy without the seismic and water-pollution consequences it currently contains.

 

To view all Interchange episodes, visit  ASCE Roundup or ASCE’s YouTube channel.

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