What is in store for structural engineering these days? The key word today has become sustainability. With ever increasing global populations that have begun a trend of shifting near urban areas increases the demands for water, waste disposal, clean air and energy. Today’s problems list as complex and take interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and cross-disciplinary solutions. Work continues to emphasize competence, collaboration, and ethics.
Issues and Trends
Renewing present or creating new infrastructure has become a growing concern. Original designs were well constructed but as time moved on the inevitable wear and tear plus exposure to the elements created structural problems. Technology and market forces have added additional pressures. Software allows prediction of varying structures giving many choices. A blending of old and new technologies happens in areas that only portions of the infrastructure needs an update. This leads to creative design plus a review of past technologies that may not had the necessary resources at the time to work but would now. Most structural engineering has become global minded. It has to work across borders since only one planet Earth exists and all resources are shared. Add in predicted climate change with its suggested scenarios of weather extremes buildings must be reinforced for more winds, more cold, more heat or more severe storms.
Life Giving Resources
Improving distributions, creating water supplies, or making sustainable architecture has led structural engineering to create destinies. Highly interactive engineers give all the possibilities and promote choices for communities. Forward looking structural engineering design manages uncertainty. No fear here just continual planning for the next possible event. Engineers orchestrate solutions to some of the most complex problems. Collaborate, manage, and lead has become the central core of structural engineering design.
Global in thinking engineers look at shrinking resources and create sustainable practices and designs. They have been at the forefront of green design. Designs now incorporate recycling features and development of new processes less toxic to the environment. Smart building technology makes the most use of resources and many new buildings produce more energy than it consumes. Ten billion people by 2050 means being good stewards of the resources available. A number one priority continues to be good water supplies globally. The heart of the matter of creating infrastructure often involves movement of water. A realistic need to create plans for end of design life with infrastructure means taking care of materials on a regular basis rather than wait for failure.