Civil engineers, we have a problem.

BY 
October 28, 2014
In a special eLearning webinar, noted speaker and author Bill Wallace explored the challenges that growing risk and uncertainty present for civil engineers.

In a special eLearning webinar, noted author and consultant Bill Wallace explored the challenges that increasing risk and uncertainty present for civil engineers. Wallace is chairing the International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure, Nov. 6-8, at which practitioners, owners and academics will discuss these problems and offer new approaches for infrastructure resiliency and adaptation.
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Sustainability is the most important and most poorly understood problem of the 21st century, according to engineer William A. Wallace, ENV SP, M.ASCE, a noted author and consultant. Consequently, many civil engineers are unknowingly planning, designing and delivering infrastructure projects that may not meet owner specifications in the long term as they may be unable to cope with future environmental operating conditions.

This is a problem, Wallace says. A huge problem.
In a recent eLearning webinar, Wallace, who is also chairing the upcoming International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure, described how multiple decades of overusing resources and degrading natural systems have altered the functions of the Earth’s natural systems.  Those alterations have changed and will continue to change the conditions under which infrastructure projects must operate.
As a result, he says, much of the existing infrastructure, designed for conditions that were historically stable, is now vulnerable to significant damage or failure.  Not surprisingly, the generally poor condition of U.S. infrastructure increases that vulnerability and risk.
Because basic engineering design assumptions about future environmental conditions are no longer reliable, Wallace says civil engineers need to adopt a new and more dynamic approach to engineering project design and delivery.
Some engineers are working to accommodate these changes, making their infrastructure designs more robust and resilient, and creating new opportunities for their firms and clients.
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