Two Millennia of Infrastructure on Display Every Day in Spain

March 12, 2012

Andy and wife at Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain

Spanish high-speed train's controlsI’m back from a trip to Spain in my official capacity as ASCE President, and as these pictures will attest, I saw examples of civil engineering at its most resilient, and at the cutting edge. Above, my wife Linda and I saw the Roman aqueduct at Segovia. In the U.S., we worry about 100-year-old pipes, yet this marvelous ancient infrastructure is still serving its purpose some 1,900 years after it was built. At right, I was granted a rare view of the engineer’s seat in the high-speed AVE (Alta Velocidad Espanola) train to Valencia from Madrid. The speedometer reads 300 km per hour!

The main purpose of my trip was to share our Vision 2025 message with the Asociación de Ingenieros de Caminos (Spanish Association of Civil Engineering) at their sixth annual congress in Valencia. I also took part in a panel discussion and signed an agreement of cooperation with the association.

In your travels to other countries, how much do you take note of the infrastructure? And what does it make you think and feel as you compare it with what you know back home?

  • Jorge D. Perez, P.E.

    I was with the ASCE delegation when the ASCE Historical Plaque was placed in the aqueducts in Segovia along with the Associacion de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos. We too witnessed the high quality of engineering.

    Not only did we witness the high quality of engineering designs, but the high respect and esteem the engineers are held in Spain and through Europe. Many are policy makers in high public office….. When we compare this with back home, we are lacking.

    Perhaps we need to learn from our European counterparts.

  • In my travels to other countries I always put my attention on bridges, public buildings, tanks,…
    It’s an unavoidable professional deformation.
    For example, the thing that impressed me most then as now about New York was the contrast between the verticality of the skyscrapers promoted by private companies and the large horizontal spans of public bridges. I felt a bit like Le Corbusier visiting NYC in 1935 ;-)

  • As a structural engineer with a practice focused on structural rehabilitation, I was pleased to see your posting.

    I am also an expert member of ISCARSAH, an international committee dealing with structural conservation of heritage buildings.

    We have a lot to learn from the past about how to build for the future.

    “When we build, let us think that we build forever” – John Ruskin

    Patrick Sparks, PE

  • Like any good engineer, a portion of my sightseeing includes observing the various infrastructure networks encountered. I am amazed at the difference in design elements that can be found not only between different countries but also between neighboring states.

    I think the Europeans have a more “long term” focus on their projects. This is evident in the existence of facilities that are thousands of years old.

    Oh yeah…..great picture of you and Linda.

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