Benedict R. Schwegler, Jr., Ph.D., M.ASCE, is Vice President and Chief Scientist of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Research & Development, where he created and manages the Simulation-based Design Group. The overall goal of this team is to improve Disney’s ability to simulate, predict, and manage the project delivery process to enable sustainable design and engineering of the built environment. His team develops new software tools like 4D Simulation as well as formal information models to enable integration of design, construction, and operational data for all capital facility projects of The Walt Disney Company (especially theme parks and resorts). In addition to the Simulation-Based Design project, Ben’s group has developed Integrated Infrastructure models, resulting in the most energy efficient theme park and resort design ever built; novel water treatment technologies enabling the first closed-loop control of wastewater treatment plants, and next generation fireworks.
Ben was the recipient of the 2002 Henry R. Michel Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and was awarded the Orange County (California) Engineering Council’s Outstanding Project Management Award for 2001. Ben is on the Board of Directors of the Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency at Stanford University and a member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Technical Divisions Advisory Board. He is also a Consulting Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, where his current research focuses on the adaptation of the built environment to climate change. He has been involved in nearly all of Walt Disney Imagineering’s construction projects over the past 20 years. Ben’s doctorate is from University of California, Los Angeles. He stays healthy racing high-performance small sailboats and road bikes.
In this episode, Ben talks about ways in which the civil engineering profession can best promote innovation and the challenges that must be overcome. He also discusses the biggest opportunities for the profession, traits that make civil engineers stand out and succeed, as well as his greatest accomplishments.