Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Last June, the National Science Foundation (NSF) conducted a workshop on the direction for research in civil and environmental engineering. Some very active ASCE members participated including Ralph Peterson, CEO of CH2MHill; Jeff Russell, professor and chair at the University of Wisconsin Madison; Priscilla Nelson, provost at New Jersey Institute of Technology; Kathy Banks, department head at Purdue University and Carolyn Merry, chair of Ohio State University, to name just a few.
In order to address the needs for the 21st Century, innovation and leadership must come from the engineering community. Clearly, civil and environmental engineering play a major role in addressing infrastructure, health and other developmental issues facing our society. The workshop participants expressed support for expanded research in renewal; management and protection of complex systems; sustainability; global impacts and energy. The participants felt strongly that civil and environmental research need to be integrated and fused with other areas, particularly, the social and natural sciences.
Nano materials offer hope for significant advancement in the sensing of the built and natural environments as well as the development of models for analyzing infrastructure systems. Decision, support systems, geographic information systems and health information needs to be integrated to address global health concerns. A concern was expressed that there needs to be a sense of urgency to initiate research programs and innovation to protect U.S. competitiveness. One of the significant challenges is to have NSF be engaged in a greater way in the support of these research program areas. What can ASCE do to advance this research agenda?