CIVIL ENGINEERING 365 ALL ABOUT CIVIL ENGINEERING



Civil engineering is arguably the broadest of engineering specialties as evidenced by the number of institutes within ASCE. Historically, as civil engineers we have been asked to design and maintain roads, bridges, buildings, water systems, and the environment; but the role of the civil engineer has evolved into much more than physical systems, necessitating integration of a broader, more diverse skillset with collaboration across disciplines to ensure sustainability, resilience, and social equity. This is clearly a demanding task but one we know will help each generation live in a world better than the last. ASCE spent several years working with Experimental Design, Inc. out of Hollywood, which specializes in developing digital world concepts for the movie industry. The objective was to bring their members a new thought-provoking experience: Mega City 2070.Think back to 1998 when ASCE began providing the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, with the most recent update in 2021 (ASCE 2021), when the US received a grade of C− for its infrastructure. As civil engineers we have designed roads and bridges for future traffic and buildings for future demand, but never have we really realized a fully integrated design of a futuristic city. Enter Mega City 2070! As US infrastructure continues to be repaired, we must be not only reactive and fix what is broken or breaking, but also proactive; namely, we must systematically consider the needs of civilization to enable new generations of engineers and future engineers to imagine and dream. There are no wrong answers, no judgment for ideas that push the boundaries of what can be designed and built in the present day. Mega City 2070 underscores the first rule of brainstorming by engaging users in discussions about creating an optimal future; do not worry if something is possible in 2022, provided engineering principles, physics, and mathematics are not violated. Mega City 2070 (ASCE 2022) is intended to engage and inspire all age ranges and all facets of our profession from students to practicing engineers to researchers.For civil engineering professionals, Mega City 2070 is intended to fuel innovative ideas in projects of all sizes ranging from a single building to an infrastructure project. This is not to say that the images of reconfigurable buildings are possible today, but is intended to help us think about how a slight change in architecture or the addition of a technology can enable a multiuse building; perhaps even establishing better social and economic equity by opening an opportunity with a second or third use of a building. For larger civil engineering infrastructure projects, Mega City 2070 may help us think both horizontally and vertically: think green, think automation, and think resilience and sustainability. Included in Mega City 2070 are 39 topics making up hundreds of callouts that can be explored by users. The topics include arial/aerospace, artificial intelligence, automation/robotics, climate and weather, construction methods, demographics, hazard response and mitigation, human mobility and transit, materials, policy and planning, resilience, structural systems, sustainability, and water access and management, to name less than half.For researchers, there are opportunities for us to allow Mega City 2070 to enter our thoughts when proposing high-risk, high-reward research projects such as the reconfigurable buildings not possible today, or the sustainability and recycling technologies imagined and highlighted in Mega City 2070. Or, how do we design structures today for tomorrow’s loads and make sure they remain resilient to natural hazards as the world climate changes? Presidential Policy Directive 21 (Office of the Press Secretary 2013) defines resilience as the ability to prepare for, adapt to, and recover rapidly from disruptions, but when thinking of the future we have to reimagine not only the infrastructure, but also the disruptions themselves. Can we design structures to evolve as loads change and adapt to a changing climate? Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) committees are already working on this through special projects and workshops.Educators at all levels, but particularly the college level, can utilize Mega City 2070 to engage their classes in thought-provoking discussions about the civil engineering profession. All civil engineering programs in the United States have an introductory course freshman year that explores each of the specialty areas within civil engineering including guest lectures, reading, and beginning-level assignments. This is an ideal platform to generate new concepts for our profession through introduction and exploration exercises with Mega City 2070. In graduate classes such as sustainability- or hazards-focused classes like the earthquake engineering course I teach, there are often project-based assignments such as seismic resilience at the community or city level. Mega City 2070 can serve as the city-level concept that students can use to attempt to measure a resilience (or sustainability) metric by bringing in their idea or design.Finally, I want to bring your attention to a forthcoming special collection in the Journal of Structural Engineering entitled Advances in Information Technology towards Vision for the Future of Structural Engineering guest coedited by Ting Lin, M. Z. Naser, and Seymour M. J. Spence. As chief editor of the Journal of Structural Engineering, I envision and continue to welcome ideas on special collections that push the boundaries of our complex but rewarding profession of civil engineering. Collectively, the portfolio of ASCE journals will welcome proposals for forward-thinking collections related to the future of civil engineering topics and interdisciplinary topics.References ASCE. 2021. 2021 report card for America’s infrastructure. Reston, VA: ASCE. Office of the Press Secretary. 2013. Presidential policy directive: Critical infrastructure security and resilience. PPD-21. Washington, DC: The White House.



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