Professional and Career Topics

Expand all | Collapse all

Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

  • 1.  Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 07-24-2022 10:34 AM

    There's a lot to like about the Future World Vision but is it really civil engineers who will make it happen or will civil engineering as we know it today need to change with the times. Examples here are increased automation and smart functionality, new sources of energy, and use of big data to drive decision making. I think all of the problems / challenges that civil engineers are trained to solve today will be there in the future, e.g., structures, water resources, wastewater, etc. but will civil engineers realistically be looked to as leaders in these emerging and evolving areas or just play supporting roles. In the back of my head is the book the "Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen. A pitfall for market leaders or specialty suppliers - who are prized for what they can do – is that they can become trapped in their own success. This can happen because new and existing customers want more of the same – if not better – and look to others for new products and services. Admittedly, Christensen's hypothesis is just that, but I find it both provocative and compelling. One answer might be some intense introspection into what it means to be a civil engineer and strategic action planning – to ensure civil engineers are leaders and not followers in achieving the Future World Vision.  Maybe work is being done behind the scenes  and it would be great to also hear from people who are involved in this effort.



    ------------------------------
    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 07-25-2022 06:40 PM
    I applaud the thought provoking look at the Future World Vision and the role for ASCE. I believe ASCE should be proactively involved because engineers have much to offer regarding use of resources. Spatial and geospatial data are an important of the global infrastructure that provides the foundation for many activities. The concept of digital twins is an important component of the spatial data infrastructure and being discussed by many - from "regular" engineering activities, to "smart cities" to automated navigation and driverless "everything. The geometrical integrity of digital twins lies at the heart of what CEs do and deserves careful consideration. of I recommend the following two items. Many more could be applicable as well.

         http://www.globalcogo.com/GSDM-and-DT.pdf
         http://www.globalcogo.com/sages2022.pdf.

    Both items have been discussed with ASCE Continuing Education personnel. Much could and should be done.

    Thank you for deliberate consideration.

    Earl F. Burkholder, PS, PE, F.ASCE
    Global COGO, Inc.
    Las Cruces, NM 88003
    http://www.globalcogo.com



    ------------------------------
    Earl Burkholder P.E., P.S., F.ASCE
    President
    Global COGO, Inc.
    Las Cruces NM
    ------------------------------

    Attachment(s)

    pdf
    GSDM-and-DT.pdf   148 KB 1 version
    pdf
    sages2022.pdf   409 KB 1 version


  • 3.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 08-15-2022 10:46 AM
    It would be great to hear from members involved in developing the Future World Vision and/or helping with its implementation.

    ------------------------------
    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 08-16-2022 05:12 PM
    Thank you for starting this discussion @Mitchell Winkler. Here are some additional resources.

    Applying Future World Vision in the Classroom

    Cities of the Future: A giant screen film experience

    I'm looking forward to hearing more from members who have been active in this initiative!

    ------------------------------
    Tirza Austin
    Senior Manager, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 08-23-2022 11:05 PM
    Tirza,
    Thank you for the links to additional resources. I've downloaded and installed Mega City 2070 and started reviewing. It will take time to get my arms around all that material. I'll post additional comments later.

    ------------------------------
    Earl Burkholder P.E., P.S., F.ASCE
    President
    Global COGO, Inc.
    Las Cruces NM
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 08-25-2022 10:32 AM
    @Earl Burkholder,

    I'm glad you found those links helpful. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts after you have time to explore the platform! ​

    ------------------------------
    Tirza Austin
    Senior Manager, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 08-23-2022 11:04 PM
    Hi Mitch,
    Thanks for your comments.  I've been deeply involved in the Future World Vision (FWV) project at ASCE since its inception, and I'm happy to see that you are diving into it.  I hope you have downloaded the software platform and started to work your way through the various neighborhoods in Mega City 2070, you can leave more specific comments on features of the city by using the social networking tools.  It's really the best way to understand what FWV is all about.

    Here are a few reactions to your ideas that will hopefully provoke some additional discussion here:
    - A major motivation for FWV was to help engineers think more strategically about potentially disruptive future trends, and how engineers might evolve their practice, research, or study to address such future outcomes.  While our day to day work is critical to public safety, we can become bogged down in the details of optimization using the tools we already have in hand.  Every once in a while it is important to look forward in time and foster new ideas that might take us out of our comfort zones.  That's the experience we are hoping you will have when you use this platform.
    - Through ASCE I've met so many inspiring professionals that are "breaking the mold" of what a traditional civil engineer can do to make an impact.  As an example, just today I spoke to a colleague whose civil engineering firm has pivoted from port engineering of physical assets to the development of automation tools that will greatly improve supply chain management.  I also got to collaborate recently with a group of engineers working on embedded edge computing, a key technology to enable smart cities and improve infrastructure reliability.
    - We're working hard at ASCE to develop programs at colleges and universities to encourage strategic, systems thinking in the next generation of engineers.  Some recent graduates have been through these seminars, and are coming to work in the profession with a fresh perspective and excitement for how we can address the key challenges of our time - such as climate change, the role of AI in engineering and our daily lives, and building safer and more resilient communities with affordable housing.
    - FWV is a great way to spark conversation across a diverse spectrum of our profession - people of all ages can get involved and bring their ideas to the table, hopefully learning a lot by listening to each other's perspectives.  At my office, we've developed an internal working group of engineers that meet regularly to discuss our experiences in the FWV Mega City 2070.  As a firm principal, I find these conversations to be a great way to connect with our staff and give them a voice in how our company plans for its own future.
    - In your comments you mentioned "One answer might be some intense introspection into what it means to be a civil engineer and strategic action planning - to ensure civil engineers are leaders and not followers in achieving the Future World Vision". I could not agree more!  However, one comment I'd make is that I don't think we will necessarily "achieve" the Future World Vision.  Mega-City 2070, and the other planned virtual experiences, are really meant to be thought-provoking scenarios based on potential future outcomes from trends we see today.  The real goal is not to predict the future or even set a specific "vision" of what it should be - instead we're trying to provoke a deep conversation among engineers and other stakeholders about the challenges we face, and how we can make a positive impact on the world through our work to make it a better place to live.

    DJO

    ------------------------------
    David J. Odeh
    SE, PE, F. SEI, F. ASCE
    Principal, Odeh Engineers, Inc.
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 08-26-2022 10:11 AM
    Thanks for this response. The takeaway for me is that organic - rather than leader led - change is being relied upon to position civil engineering for the next decades.

    ------------------------------
    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 08-30-2022 04:14 PM
    It is like I stepped up to a fire hydrant to quench my thirst. But, one step at a time. . .
       1.  I'm reminded that the original question is "Will civil engineers be leaders or followers" in the journey described by the Future World Vision. In my opinion, the answer is "it depends" or the question can not be answered "either/or."
       2. I downloaded and enjoyed viewing the Mega City 2070 video. Several comments:
            - I'm no longer teaching although I see Mega City 2070 as a valuable tool for those still so engaged.
            - I'm reminded that certain features of the dream are readily available in the near future. No need to wait 50 years.
      3. I found the interview with Gerald Buckwalter to be most informative. I wholeheartedly recommend viewing it. He makes various points with which I wholeheartedly agree.
              https://www.asce.org/publications-and-news/civil-engineering-source/article/2022/03/09/reimagining-infrastructure-with-future-world-visions-mega-city-2070.
      4. I am an "applications professional" which means:
            - Sometimes I struggle with academic issues or philosophical views of the future.
            - I look for ways to do a better job more efficiently. I believe we should exploit the benefits made possible by the digital revolution.
     5. I am convinced that society stands to reap huge rewards by devoting more attention to the characteristics of digital 3-D geospatial data.
            - Practically all civil engineering projects use or are impacted by digital spatial data - seemingly, that is acknowledged in the FWV, but the underlying details deserve additional consideration - including the issue of spatial data accuracy..
           -  I've pointed out the "elephant in the room" as being use of pseudo 3-D versus true 3-D. The stakes are quite large as two huge "camps" compete.
                  i.    I advocate use of true 3-D for "all" spatial data applications - see http://www.globalcogo.com/ImpactOfGravity.pdf
                  ii    Camp 1 - Autonomous vehicle navigation (AI/ML) operates more efficiently using true 3-D associated with a "high definition" map.
                  iii   Camp 2 - Many existing applications rely on elevations based on pseudo 3-D.
                  iv   Additional documentation is being developed - see http://www.globalcogo.com/true-versus-pseudo.html

    ------------------------------
    Earl Burkholder P.E., P.S., F.ASCE
    President
    Global COGO, Inc.
    Las Cruces NM
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 11 days ago
    @Mitchell Winkler,

    ​Thank you again for starting this conversation. I wanted to follow up on this thread and share this article where academics talk about how they are using Future World Vision in their classrooms. I hope it will help continue this conversation.




    ------------------------------
    Tirza Austin
    Senior Manager, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Future World Vision: Will Civil Engineers be Leaders or Followers?

    Posted 9 days ago
    Thanks Mitch for the questions and insight.
    Q. "One answer might be some intense introspection into what it means to be a civil engineer and strategic action planning – to ensure civil engineers are leaders and not followers in achieving the Future World Vision."

    A. It depends.
    And not so much on our continuing commitment to technical excellence.

    If we expect our voices to be considered, then we have to embrace revolutionary improvements to our education system.
    Why?

    Because absent formal education in the so-called soft skills remains the "Anchor" that keeps us stuck at the dock.

    If we expect to be seriously and personally taken in the matters Mitch that you and others raised, then our ability to
    become "Radical Listeners TM" needs major corrective improvements.

    "Assertive Telling" based on technical excellence by itself will never cut it.

    Cheers,
    Bill
    p.s. An industry leader once asked Dr. Deming what he thought about his company's results.
    Deming replied "Your system is perfectly designed to keep giving you the results you are getting."

    ------------------------------
    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
    ------------------------------