Posts tagged ‘Deteriorating Infrastructure.’
Well, you can thank this week’s blog to my new hobby of “tweeting.” One of the other professionals that I follow made a “tweet” that led to a way cool website whose idea is worth mentioning. The future of this “pod in the sky” is likely “pie in the sky,” but it makes one wonder what the future of transportation could look like.
Pollution, carbon emissions, global warming, traffic congestion, green cars…these are all the industry headlines that plaster the Internet and your favorite trade publications every week. Well, a group of engineers and designers in New Zealand have created a mode of transportation that eliminates nearly all of the environmental concerns that are under such scrutiny today. No, it’s not a magic carpet ( how sweet would that be?). And it’s more primitive and environmentally efficient than SkyTran. Ladies and Gentleman, I introduce to you…
The world’s first human powered monorail, The Shweeb is “the most efficient vehicle on earth, the most inexpensive infrastructure of any proposed urban transit and one of the highest capacity systems available – potentially delivering thousand’s of people per hour in a very small airspace. All this with zero carbon emissions and no parking worries or cost!”
Six years in the making, entrepreneur and design team leader Geoffrey Barnett finally constructed The Shweeb in 2007 ” in direct response to the transportation needs of today and the future.” As of today, The Shweeb concept is nothing more than a ride at an adventure park in New Zealand. But Barnett and his team are convinced that The Shweeb is the way of the future. This is definitely a very cool concept that on the surface would solve many of the traffic and congestion and environmental pollution problems that we face today. It would also be an emerging engineering concept that possibly would challenge and excite transportation engineers of all types.
Environmentally speaking, this is a great idea, but Clearly Geoffrey and his team have their work cut out for them as they continue to push this concept of a human powered monorail system. Personally speaking, I am skeptical at best. The “pod” itself that one drives in has little to be desired in the way of comfort and the issues are infinite- what happens if the chain or the pedals break – would Triple A (AAA) show up? How would one travel with family or clients? And what about ventilation? Plus, I have no desire to show up for work or a lunch meeting as a soaking wet sweat ball! We would need Xzibit and the crew from the MTV show Pimp My Ride to develop some nice custom Shweeb vehicles to better suit our needs !
Check out The Shweeb in action:
I read on Gizmodo.com, “Well, thank your lucky stars that the people who run our cities have at least some sense in their heads, because it would be highly doubtful for this to appear in the flesh anytime soon.”
Do you believe this engineering concept will ever come to fruition in any way, shape or form as an alternative form of transportation within our urban communities? Or is it merely a pipe dream that will never get beyond the gates of a Six Flags amusement park?
I did a little bit of investigating (well, not that much…about 1 minutes worth!) in regards to the American Society of Civil Engineering’s (ASCE) report card that we have all come to love so much. Since it’s inception in 1988, there have been 5 complete report cards (at least that I have found) and one trend report. When growing up, I wonder if I brought home a report card this poorly, time and time again, if my parents would’ve awarded me with nice stimulus package? Ha. The only stimulus I would’ve received would have been to my backside from the likes of a wooden spoon!
Take a look:
|Public Parks & Rec||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||C-||C-|
I know that if my kids came home with these grades one marking period, you would be darn sure you would see improvement the next. And then, as a parent, I would work with the teacher and school to learn the root of problem and then make the necessary changes that would breed long-term success. Finding short term solutions and putting a band-aid over the situation does not lead to good news down the road. Regarding our infrastructure, according to Wayne Klotz, ASCE President, we have been using band-aids, or what he refers to as the “patch-and-pray method” for too long:
I believe ASCE and its members to be an upstanding and successful organization with a lot to offer. But these thoughts have to cross your mind:
- What would happen to the civil engineering industry if all these categories were given A’s & B’s?
- Would funding for infrastructure projects disappear until lower grades were given?
- And if that was the case, would ASCE be doing their members and the industry a dis-service, by reporting anything other than a crumbling infrastructure?
- Would ASCE really mislead the government and the U.S citizens by being over-dramatic with their evaluation of the infrastructure in order to spend tax-payer money on civil engineering and infrastructure projects?
I would say, ‘probably not.’ Have you seen the news lately with the bridge collapses and the water main breaks? And of course there are all the roads and bridges and underground utilities that were built decades ago that were not meant to handle the capacity of today. Not to mention all the new environmental issues coming into play. There is an interesting point of view on this very topic that argues, though ASCE is a beneficial organization for issues like education and professional development, it is stepping out of its bounds by producing such abysmal reports and lobbying the U.S. Government for funding. To read this point of view check out this blog:
I realize that we have so much money invested in our troops in the Middle East, but with such bad report cards for over 10 years now and no apparent improvement, is ASCE not doing enough to get its point across? Or has our government just been pre-occupied with other issues? Will we likely see this same report card every four years just to keep building and re-building for the benefit of the civil engineering industry? Or are the roads and bridges and dams and airports really that bad? If by chance you do agree with the commentary from the blog that you can read via the link above, who do you believe then would be best suited to produce the Infrastructure Report Card?
What is your opinion?
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Hurricanes, tornados, wild thunderstorms, earthquakes…..devastation. It is apparent that the civil engineering community has become firemen; rushing to suffering areas to put out fires here, there and everywhere. FEMA engineers, water resources specialists, geotechncial investigators, and everyone in between make their way to evaluate, report and advise. Add Mother Nature’s wrath to our much talked about “crumbling infrastructure” and we have a deadly mix.
With our continuing civil engineering staffing shortage, how can we design infrastructure to meet tomorrow’s needs, let alone today’s, while repairing yesterday’s designs (successful ones as well as the failures)?
The number of daily calls from civil engineers in down markets in states across the US amaze me. They apply for jobs outside their specific area of knowledge. We see experienced civil engineers applying for jobs as structural engineers. Companies do not want to cross train, so they won’t even interview the engineer. I understand that cross training costs money, but how much money is that open job costing you in the long run?
When business is strong and everyone is overworked and stressed, perhaps the idea of cross training is too much to handle. With the market slow down, could now be the time to review programs? We are not a community that has fully embraced staff planning or staffing predictions. Cross training shows loyalty to your staff, preparing for these days of uncertainty that are certain to arrive! Cross training can only help your company and your clients. It can eliminate the band-aid approach when employees resign.
Does your civil engineering employer have a cross training program? Let us know!
Early Monday morning an unscheduled bridge inspection revealed a major crack in a bridge pillar on a major portion of I-95 on the north side of Philadelphia. This portion of I-95 is a major artery into the city. Major props to PennDOT for not only discovering this potential deadly deterioration and making the public aware so they could adjust their routes, but for the effort that was put into getting the temporary structure up around this support pillar so quickly. This temporary structure took the weight off the pillar so PennDOT could move forward with the necessary repairs, while at the same time allowing traffic to safely proceed on this portion of I-95. This incident not only brings into the public spotlight, again, how our infrastructure is in dire need of repair, but it also recognizes how instrumental civil engineering professionals are in our daily lives…and nine times out of ten, their work goes unnoticed. To learn more about this incident, follow this link: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/home_top_left_story/20080320_I-95_reopens.html
I am not sure how much national or regional exposure this incident had, but it is a worthwhile story to be read about by the civil engineering community. What stories can you share with us in regards to the differences that civil engineers are making in your community?