It is a contradiction that defines our times. The need for new infrastructure is increasing as the available money with which to build that infrastructure is decreasing.
Fortunately, solution-oriented civil engineers are rallying to the challenge, with the common thread through nearly all of their solutions being innovation – the ability to develop and synthesize new ideas in new ways to create new products and new processes more effectively and efficiently.
“It’s important for us in civil engineering to be more innovative in order to get more from the resources we are able to work with,” said Tony Bartolomeo, P.E., F.ASCE, a member and former chair of ASCE’s Industry Leaders Council.
To underscore the increasing importance of innovative, long-term approaches in civil engineering, the Industry Leaders Council is staging four sessions during the ASCE 2015 Convention, Oct. 11-15, in New York City, including the Industry Leaders Forum panel discussion. (Learn more about the Industry Leaders Forum and other special events at the ASCE 2015 Convention.)
“As civil engineers we tend to underestimate our innate innovative skills,” said Bartolomeo, the president and CEO of Pennoni in Philadelphia, who also will be hosting one of the sessions. “We’re taking the skills that we learned as a professional and seeing which tools and applications best fit to develop a solution to a problem.”
Bartolomeo is extremely familiar with the benefits of innovation as part of his work on the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Project, work that will raise the roadway 64 feet by building a new bridge deck above the still-functioning original deck.
As a member of the engineering team led by HDR, Pennoni engineers planted sensors on the bridge to measure load-distribution data so that the engineers can work from bridge-specific information rather than universal assumptions, thus minimizing risk and uncertainty, and saving money.
“These sensors are off the shelf, but some smart civil engineer said, ‘Let’s take that tool and apply it to what we do,’” Bartolomeo said. “It’s innovation. You didn’t invent this stuff, but it’s an innovative application of existing technologies.”
Bartolomeo’s session on innovation in civil engineering features speakers, Frank Moon and Howard Neukrug, and is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 13, preceded by the Industry Leaders Forum, “Innovation – Beyond the Concept.” The ILF panel will be moderated by ILC Chair Mike Loose and features guest speakers Andrew Chatham of Google, David Durham of Walt Disney Imagineering, and David Odeh of Odeh Engineers.
Other ILC sessions include a panel discussion on performance-driven resiliency moderated by Nicholas DeNichilo, P.E., M.ASCE, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, and a panel discussion about life-cycle cost analysis headed by ILC Vice-Chair Terry Neimeyer, P.E., F.ASCE, on Monday, Oct. 12.
Register today for the ASCE 2015 Convention.