A topic we’re hearing more about in the news these days is the state of our infrastructure here in the U.S. Our roads, bridges, and other structures — in many cases built many decades ago — are beginning to show their age. And it’s not just a cosmetic problem. Much of our infrastructure is beginning to reach the point of being dangerously decayed or unstable. The American Society of Civil Engineers is well aware, and is looking to improve the way we will address our infrastructure needs in the future through an innovation contest.
The ASCE Grand Challenge
As part of its vision for the future, the ASCE has developed what it calls the Grand Challenge. They describe it as a commitment to rethinking what’s possible in their industry. Through it, they are working toward a goal of reducing infrastructure life cycle costs by 50 percent by 2025 and trying to find ways to optimize our infrastructure.
The Grand Challenge asks civil engineers at all career levels and from all specialties to implement performance-based standards, resilience, innovation, and life cycle cost analysis in all projects. The organization wants them to transform the way they deliver projects, to share successes and lessons learned with others, and to take a leadership role in changing their industry.
The ASCE Innovation Contest
This competition was developed as a part of The ASCE Grand Challenge. It’s meant to be a launching pad for innovative infrastructure ideas. Already underway for 2017, the contest is a way for civil engineers to participate in projects that will transform our country’s infrastructure.
In 2016, there were 15 winners, including four proposals that were honored for special awards:
- Rise of the Drones: How Unmanned Surveying Can Help Make Our Coasts Resilient (Greatest Impact on Achieving the Grand Challenge)
- Big Picture Resilience via Ocean Forests (Best New Concept)
- Advanced Drone Technology to Handle Disaster in Underground Construction and Mining Sites (Best Student Innovation, tie)
- Capitalizing on the Internet of Things to Promote Water Conservation (Best Student Innovation, tie).
There are five topics being addressed in the 2017 contest:
- Innovative Business Models and Technologies
- The Internet of Things
- Sustainable (Green) Engineering
- Next-Generation Transportation
A Challenge that Will Affect Us All
At Skild, we like our bridges rock solid and our roads intact and drivable. This innovation contest is one that may not have some of the glamour of others, but it’s critical to the safety (and even the financial viability) of our country. Hats off to the engineers! We’re eager to see what they come up with.