The second day of ASCE’s Global Engineering Conference in Panama featured the start of this year’s Distinguished Lecture Series and was capped off with a Celebration of Leaders reception that honored this years’ class of ASCE Distinguished Members.
Bernard Amadei, Ph.D., Ph.D., Dist.M.ASCE, NAE, professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder (UC Boulder) and past director of the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities at UC Boulder, gave an engaging presentation on engineering for sustainable human development. As the first Distinguished Lecturer of the conference, Amadei presented what he termed “an integrative and participatory framework that can be used as a guide for engineers involved in small-scale community development projects.”
“Development,” Amadei defined for the audience, “is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests.”
Amadei has committed his entire professional career and much of his personal life to the development and education of the next generations of engineering students, and he began his presentation by asking the attendees if today’s engineering graduates and engineers had the skills and tools to address the global problems that our planet and humans are facing today, or will be facing within the next 20 years.
Given the developing world’s lack of clean water, inadequate sanitation and housing, limited access to essential medicines or electricity, and a rise in illiteracy, the challenge for engineers, he said, is to “ensure that proposed economic solutions addressing the basic needs of the people are good for the environment.”
As founding president of Engineers Without Borders–USA and the cofounder of the Engineers Without Borders–International network, Amadei noted that EWB-USA allows engineering students and professional engineers to work in communities around the world, “transforming the lives of the people one community at a time.”
In attempting to create what he called “healthy, stable, equitable, safe, and prosperous sustainable communities in the developing world,” Amadei said engineers need to take into account the context and scale of projects, gain community stakeholders participation, have an integrated (systemic) approach to project management, follow project logic while dealing with uncertainty and complexity, deliver a solution that is done right and with long-term benefits, offer solutions with a human face, and aim for results versus activities.
Amadei, who is also the recipient of ASCE’s 2015 Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Lifetime Achievement award for education, concluded with a challenge from Albert Einstein: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
Conference attendees were treated to additional learning experiences, including a session on the hydrology and operation of the third set of locks of the Panama Canal Expansion, presented by Jorge Espinosa, manager of the Hydraulic Resources Section of the Panama Canal Authority. Espinosa discussed how the new set of locks imposed a challenge to the management of the Panama Canal water resources.
Also, Peter Zuk, a principal with International Incorporated, explored the anatomy of a gigaproject, such as the Boston Central Artery Tunnel Project, and Gary Chock, S.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE, the leader of one of the ASCE reconnaissance teams sent to Japan in March 2011 to study the effects of tsunamis, discussed the lessons learned and how engineers play a vital leadership role in decisions about community disaster resilience.
Society Honors Its Distinguished Members
Since the earliest days of ASCE, the Society has recognized colleagues whose contributions in the areas of leadership, research, and overall civil engineering accomplishment make them worthy of the title Distinguished Member. Highlighting the day’s events was a reception formally introducing this years’ class of Distinguished Members.
Bringing the number of Distinguished Members to 649, this year’s class consists of Reidar Bjorhovde, Dr.-Ing., Ph.D., P.Eng., F.SEI, Dist.M.ASCE; Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, Dist.M.ASCE; Jesus M. de la Garza, Ph.D., NAC, Dist.M.ASCE; William H. Espey, Jr., Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE; Dennis M. Kamber, P.E., Dist.M.ASCE; Anne Setian Kiremidjian, Ph.D., Dist.M.ASCE; Michael K. Loose, P.E., Dist.M.ASCE; Thomas D. O’Rourke, Ph.D., Hon.D.GE, Dist.M.ASCE, NAE; Monte L. Phillips, Ph.D., P.E., Dist.M.ASCE; Jane McKee Smith, Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, Dist.M.ASCE; and Kirankumar V. Topudurti, Ph.D., P.E., DEE, Dist.M.ASCE.
Find out what happened on Day 3 at the Global Engineering Conference 2014.