This week you’re applauding Transport for London for its new range of PPE designed for women, commenting on climate change and challenging the trans-Pennine tunnel boast.
Plaudits for TfL
Well done Transport for London; this is long overdue. For the first time since hi-viz was adopted we can work in clothes that don’t look like we’ve borrowed them. Working all day in trousers that have the legs rolled up has been a constant bother.
Well done to Transport for London for taking the comfort and safety of their staff seriously. However, as far as I know there is still no commercially available GO/RT 3279 women’s orange waterproof jacket on the market, no women’s waterproof trousers, and only one polycotton trouser and one or two yellow hi-vis jackets. Are women on construction sites so thinly spread that no manufacturer sees the benefit in developing a range, or do employers not want to pay for specific items?
Where is the discussion of population control? Energy demands, water use, food consumption and CO2 production are all related to increased population. De-forestation, building on flood plains, upland management, migration and destruction of wildlife habitats are all the cause of over-population.
The Earth is not and never has been in a steady state and we must control the fundamentals not chase pie in the sky theories.
“The interim report said that the link was likely to include the longest tunnel ever built in Europe, with the current estimate being up to 30km”? This is slightly misleading when the two bores of the 57km long Gottard Base Tunnel are opening to traffic on 1 June this year!
A level debate (continued)
I’m interested in adding to the A level Physics debate. I’ve carried out research (albeit in Africa) looking at the training needs of engineers in relation to employers’ needs and (briefly) my conclusions are that we need to ensure mastery of basic maths – especially geometry and stats rather than yet more calculus and matrices. The reason why maths and physics are often prized by students and lecturers is that it is easy to learn, cheap to teach and easy to mark – with all questions having a right and wrong answer. Engineering in the real work has “good/bad” answers and I have a lot of problems trying to explain this to students who do not appreciate this or to engineers who want to model everything. Maths and physics are good at training people to consider problems in a logical manner – but perhaps too logical.
I would like to introduce more sociology to reflect Tredgold’s definition of civil engineering – how can we meet society’s needs if we don’t understand society?
Brian Reed (M)
I can only endorse the view that recent flooding highlights a need to urgently review and coordinate design standards. During my professional career I saw many instances of flooding be they river, land drainage, highway drainage or sewerage related or more usually combination of all four. There was however one common factor. I always surprised those who suffered flooding were surprised; flooding was inevitable in my opinion - the only issue was degree and frequency.
Economic factors, the sustainability debate, coupled with the Bathing Water, Urban Wastewater and Water Quality Framework Directives have encouraged designers to move from designing for a peak flow to incorporating artificially created storage to attenuate flows. Such solutions have a part to play but need careful consideration. How much of the storage should been deemed to be available when a “critical” storm is proceeded by a period of prolonged but unremarkable wet weather? What is it assumed will happen when the storage is full and wet weather continues? The reliability of stochastic rainfall data, often used to design such solutions, has been questioned over the years. It has been suggested that the impact of rarer events is under estimated, further work is required.
I fear these issues are a ticking time bomb for our profession; I have recently advised on property purchase with specific reference to flood risk. The standard of responses received in respect to searches can at best be described as variable. Figures given for probability of flooding lack detail to judge their reasonableness. Sooner or later I suspect a victim of flooding, on discovering their property is unsellable will look to the courts for compensation.