A Challenge for the Profession

December 4, 2015
ASCE Executive Director Tom Smith

ASCE Executive Director Tom Smith

Civil engineers plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain the built environment, while serving as stewards and advocates to protect and enhance the natural environment. But the work of civil engineers, and the foundation for our quality of life, is increasingly challenged and threatened by woefully insufficient infrastructure investment. As our infrastructure continues to deteriorate and age past its useful design life, we are challenged with investment needs that continue to increase well beyond available funding. So how do we close the infrastructure gap?


ASCE issued a grand challenge to civil engineers and the industry at the 2015 ASCE Convention: significantly enhance the performance and value of infrastructure projects over their life cycles, reducing the life-cycle cost of infrastructure by 50 percent by 2025 and fostering the optimization of infrastructure investments for society. To reach this goal, we must advocate and influence major legislative, regulatory, and policy changes, and infrastructure funding, while challenging ourselves and each other to focus on innovation, to rethink life cycle costs and to initiate transformational change – from planning to design to delivery.

ASCE organized several events at the 2015 Convention in October in New York City to promote the ASCE Grand Challenge to members and attendees. In addition to presentations on disruptive innovation, resiliency, and life-cycle cost assessments, we launched the ASCE Innovation Contest encouraging professionals, educators, and students to share their most creative ideas for reshaping our nation’s infrastructure.

The contest offers professionals, educators, and students the opportunity to share their best ideas from four topic areas: Innovative Business Models and Technologies, the Internet of Things, Green Engineering and Resilience.

Winners will be given the chance to present their ideas to and network with industry leaders, and they will be considered for research grants, recognized in trade publications, and receive special recognition and awards. Student entries that are selected as winners will also be offered first or second round interviews for job and internship opportunities. The deadline for submitting entries is Jan. 5.

I encourage everyone to spread the word about the innovation contest and get engaged in ASCE’s Grand Challenge, so we can close the Infrastructure Gap through transformational change that will protect the public health, safety, and welfare, and the foundation for our quality life.




In case you missed it, here are some other exciting opportunities around the ASCE community:

Dream Big: Engineering Wonders of the World, a MacGillivray Freeman Films Production in partnership with ASCE and presented by Bechtel, will display many of the amazing contributions to the world by engineers who dreamed big. The film is scheduled for release in February  2017 in IMAX and other giant-screen theatres.

The ASCE Dream Big Contest celebrates the new film and the dreams that drive civil engineers around the world every day. Tell ASCE how you have dreamed big and you could win one of three Dream Big prize packages, choosing from trips or even a Dream Big movie premiere in your town. What career dream have you realized? What dream do you aspire to? How has engineering helped you achieve a personal dream? Dream big and enter the contest.

Finding the right career path is a top priority for every young engineer. ASCE Career Connections provides the guidance to get there. Add a bookmark or shortcut to asce.org/careers for handy access to search job openings, post your resume, and get the career advice that will have you ready to take the next step.

ASCE Week returns to balmy Orlando, FL, next March, following a successful event in Las Vegas during the fall. The week features the chance to earn as many as 36 PDHs in one location – including 4 PDHs from a behind-the-scenes tour of Disney World engineering. View the complete schedule of courses and tours, and register.

ASCE’s On-Demand Webinar Packages give members the chance to build skills and earn PDHs from the comfort of their own homes. View all package options.

The 2015 Member Referral Drive is on. Everyone who renews by Dec. 14 will also be entered into a grand prize draw of a $1,000 Amazon gift card. Renew online today.

ASCE’s Industry Leaders Council is ready to open doors to help the next engineering innovation take off. The ILC has launched the ASCE Innovation Contest, calling on professionals, educators, and students to share their best ideas for transforming the future of our nation’s infrastructure. Three winners, each in four topic areas, will be selected. Explore the topic areas and the rewards for winning, get questions answered, and enter.










1 Comment
  • Avatar Charles Haas, F ASCE

    I don’t know if this is what is intended by the figure, but it appears that an important aspect of reducing the gap is reducing the DEMAND for infrastructure. If this is the case, bravo. Both the SUPPLY and DEMAND aspects of the problem need to be addressed. ASCE needs to more explicitly put this forth, which has implications for the current practices of acquiring and managing infrastructure, which are often narrow mindedly focused on the SUPPLY aspect only.

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