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Pace of Innovation in Civil Engineering

  • 1.  Pace of Innovation in Civil Engineering

    Posted 01-28-2020 17:48

    How would you describe the pace of innovation in civil engineering and why? How swiftly does the civil engineering industry go from an idea to implementation in society, especially as compared to other industries?  Your feedback or examples are much appreciated.

    Jameelah Ingram, P.E., M.ASCE
    Washington, D.C.

  • 2.  RE: Pace of Innovation in Civil Engineering

    Posted 01-29-2020 11:16
    ​When it comes to technology tools, we take longer than other industries to adopt them. For example, BIM.  The tools for BIM have been around since the early 2000's, yet we are still living in a world where paper (PDF) plans are still dominating project construction. Yes, equipment is being used that is geo-referenced, and 3D models are likely being used in construction as well, but in the design centers, delivery is still 2D paper plans stamped by the Engineer of Record. Could this be due more to the legal aspects of accountability than the limits of the software, and or users? How do we lock down models after the Professional has stamped it, once we do move to a (true) fully digital work flow? Very interesting topic.

    Larry Tortuya P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE
    Senior Project Manager
    Irvine CA

  • 3.  RE: Pace of Innovation in Civil Engineering

    Posted 01-30-2020 09:04
    Larry, you're correct about the legal aspects.  Because of how engineers are judged in claims of negligence, innovation is confined to the current state of the practice:  design and deliver projects like other practicing engineers, only do it faster, better, and or cheaper.  In a bar one late night many years ago, two of us were kicking this engineering innovation idea around.  At that time, it had to do with incorporating sustainability concepts into civil infrastructure designs.  My colleague, Rolf, came up with this statement:

    "Architects are selected on the basis of their successful design innovations;  engineers are selected on the basis of how many times they've delivered the same design successfully."   Rolf Saegesser/SKS Ingenieure, Switzerland

    Bill Wallace, ENV-SP, F.ASCE
    Wilsonville, Oregon