Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

FIDIC 2009: Looking to the future

As we look to the future of engineering consultancy, we also need to look into the past at what has changed; at what remains the same and at what changes we can anticipate in the future.

Engineering practice has, for most part, been a team effort and this teamwork has become even more important today. We practice collaboratively, improving on previous knowledge and expertise, learning from those who have gone before us and from those with whom we work.

The need for engineers to protect public health, safety and welfare led to the licensing of professional practice in many countries. For many years, we provided solutions that were sound and predictable to improve the standard of living in the world but we sometimes failed to give consideration to the impacts of our projects on other aspects of human lives.

However, in recent years, the engineer’s dedication to public health and safety has taken on new meaning.

Beyond technical concerns

Beyond technical concerns, engineers are now also concerned about the survival of our planet. The impact of globalisation has also underscored the reality that we live in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.

Globalisation gives a new perspective on need for engineers to work and interact with each other. At the same time, world growth and development are pressing the earth’s capacity limits with the increasing pressure to balance the quest for development by the developing countries with preservation of the environment.

Climate change is one clear example of a survival issue that also includes resource limits, population pressures, migration, water availability, and environmental degradation. The first space explorations half a century ago gave us a different perspective of our planet that has driven home the need for preservation. Viewed from afar, the earth is a beautiful small blue planet floating against the blackness of space where national boundaries or political divisions are invisible.

“Protection of our planet requires that we embrace a broader range of inter-disciplinary practice.”

We all share a common destiny as passengers on the same small spaceship where economic, environmental, security, and survival issues transcend national boundaries and politics.

Protection of our planet requires that we embrace a broader range of inter-disciplinary practice in our designs that encompasses not only the traditional engineering disciplines but also economic, political, social, public policy, ethics and integrity considerations.

Engineers must take the lead in the fight against corruption which has hindered the eff ective development of the world’s infrastructure.

What does the future hold for engineering consultancy following the worst recession since the great depression? While many experts believe that there are signs that the current recession is over, our industry normally trails other aspects of the economy and for us, there is a strong possibility that it will linger through the end of 2010.

Beginning in 2011, there is a future of great opportunities for engineers when our concerns will once again be whether we have sufficient human resources to accomplish our clients’ assignments.

Gregs Thomopolus was elected president of FIDIC on 17 September 2009.

  • The 2010 FIDIC annual conference entitled “Managing innovation − The way forward” will be hosted by the Association of Consulting Engineers India in New Delhi, India on 19-22 September 2010.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.