I like to think of civil engineering as “people” engineering, because everything we do impacts people. And the need for engineers is greater today than ever before!
There are so many places in the world that—from an infrastructure standpoint—have nothing.
Global challenges include:
- Energy independence—phasing out fossil fuels; developing safe alternatives, such as nuclear power; finding domestic alternatives to foreign oil, such as hydrofracking or the development of more efficient battery technology .
- Clean drinking water—one billion people today do not have access to clean drinking water. A child dies every 15 seconds as a direct result of an illness related to this problem. Civil engineers are the ones working to solve this problem every day.
- Aging infrastructure—stories like the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, are growing all too common. Civil engineers will be the ones to drive infrastructure renewal, and we’ll do it in a way that enhances the environment.
- Sustainability, renewable resources, and advanced technology for recycling and cleaning up our environment.
- More people moving to large cities—Purdue and other universities are studying just how engineering improvements need be identified and completed when a large city like Chicago “doubles” in population into a “mega city.”
- The development of new building materials that are stronger, lighter, and more ductile.
- Today we are designing buildings not just to withstand gravity, wind, and seismic loads. We are designing some of them to remain standing even in a crippled state when one or more columns are destroyed by a blast. In Oklahoma City, only 10 percent of the 138 lives were lost due to the shock of the blast or flying glass. Ninety percent were killed by the structure itself.
- Intermodal movement of freight and goods throughout the world.
- Flood control and irrigation control.
- Civil engineers will provide leadership as we study and respond to climate change and changes in sea level.
The list goes on and on, but all these are huge global problems, which will be solved by designers, CEOs, presidents, and vice presidents who are engineers—all “idea people.”
Organizations comprised of idea people, such as ASCE, and events like the Bridge Bust Competition, help ignite the careers of aspiring engineers at the high school level so that when students graduate, they will consider majoring in engineering. This next wave of engineers is already ahead of the game, learning hands-on what it takes to be a visionary, think outside the box, and solve infrastructure problems.
I am proud that American Structurepoint is considered among the leading engineering firms in our industry, including holding the rank of No. 1 Indianapolis engineering consultant firm by Indianapolis Business Journal, and holding the No. 160 spot on the national Engineering News-Record Top 500 US engineering firms list. I look forward to more opportunities to speak to young people about the importance of civil engineering, and what American Structurepoint is doing to solve the infrastructure challenges on the global scale.