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.
More from: FIDIC 2009: Overview
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.