Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Understanding the social impact of engineering projects

    Posted 03-25-2019 04:54 PM
    How well do we understand the system-wide social impact of engineering projects? Life cycle assessment frameworks help us understand the impact of engineering projects on natural resources, but how do we assess the impact of engineering projects on social systems - is there an appropriate design framework?

    Mira Olson, Ph.D.
    Drexel University
    Philadelphia PA
    (215) 895-2987

  • 2.  RE: Understanding the social impact of engineering projects

    Posted 03-28-2019 11:49 AM
    I think this is a fascinating question, as well as one that the civil engineering field hasn't paid enough attention to. Discussions around sustainability in civil engineering projects have gained a lot of attention from what I can tell, and they may or may not bring about questions of social systems impacts. Envision, for example, rates infrastructure projects based on a sustainability framework. The Quality of Life credit category allocates points for project impacts on local social issues, like community mobility, public space, historic/cultural preservation, justice, and public health. The environmental justice field may be another place to look for this type of assessment. I haven't explored this thoroughly yet, so I'm not sure if researchers in the field focus on individual projects or whole engineered systems.

    Daniel Robinson A.M.ASCE
    Austin TX
    (737) 703-3847

  • 3.  RE: Understanding the social impact of engineering projects

    Posted 07-20-2019 11:45 PM

     One Civil Engineer's Perspective

    As more lower income people from other states and countries moved into our major city neighborhoods (1948-1958), we moved out into what became the "Suburbs."

     Politicians told us they wanted a new road "from here to there.” They approved the permits, we plowed down the trees, re-routed and polluted the streams, destroyed the wildlife habitats, they got their road on time and on budget!

     Civil Engineers were educated to state "We're not tree huggers, we plan, design, build, and maintain our nation's infrastructure within the budgets provided."

    This thread argues to “Raise the Bar” from regulatory-minimums to nation-wide, comprehensive socially compatible, environmentally sustainable infrastructure. 

    1. Before this well-intentioned comprehensive, community-sensitive vision develops further, suggest the formation of a multidisciplinary task force that includes specialties most civil engineers have not routinely collaborated and partnered with.


     p.s. Please take a look at the new post "WHAT WE REALLY NEED ARE GOOD 'DUMB' CITIES." [1]

    [1] https://collaborate.asce.org/professionaltopics/communities/community-home/digestviewer/viewthread?GroupId=9265&MessageKey=b225f098-970a-407e-9a63-934b9706313b&CommunityKey=c95c7fc3-ed66-4208-8841-14604b5a3c32&tab=digestviewer&ReturnUrl=%2fcommunities%2fcommunity-home%2fdigestviewer%3fcommunitykey%3dc95c7fc3-ed66-4208-8841-14604b5a3c32%26tab%3ddigestviewer




    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880