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This is a report of the book written by Richard H. McCuen, Edna Z. Ezzel and Malenie K Wong on the topic “Fundamentals of Civil Engineering”. The scholars majorly expanded on the need for incorporation of concept sustainability in civil engineering. They noted that if this would not be done, then the world major current challenge of the depletion of natural resources would soon go beyond reclamation. The three proposed that civil engineers are best positioned to lead the society in this direction.
Usually, it is the engineers who decide on how materials, energy and water resources, the development of infrastructure, and the design of new products are to be done. For sustainability to be possible, the engineers must first recognize this obligation and exercise it with the broader community in mind. They noted that this may generate a conflict with the expectations of the engineers’ clients but it must be given the first priority. Sustainability also calls for the alteration of various ways in which the engineers utilize the skills in deploying various designs and management systems.
The Historical Background
The three noted that even in recent decades, there had been a shift of focus to built environment. They observed that the public was shifting its attention from such measures as planting of trees to protecting what they already had. They explained that the emphasis was even shifting from the passive waste cleanup and pollution control to proactive pollution prevention and ecological sustainability. According to them, sustainability had always been closely associated with safety, health, and environment.
Currently, engineers must be tasked to come up with strategies which would allow them to acquire more output from less resource. According to their work, this can be done alongside ensuring a reduction in the amount of waste and damage caused to the environment. This should mainly aim at attaining a sustainable ecosystem that brings together the human society and the natural environment for a mutual benefit. Attempts must therefore be made to integrate sustainability not only into civil engineering but also into different engineering disciplines like mining, ecological, and environmental engineering.
In addition, the three proposed that there was need for civil engineers to devise feasible solutions that could be affordable and in accordance to aspirations of the society. These required an informed balance in terms of cost, benefit, sustainability and acceptability within the broader legislative framework. The concepts such as life cycle costs accounting for the economic feasibility of engineering project alongside its impact on the environment were therefore seen as inevitable.
They also identified the need to incorporate sustainability concepts and principles in both the professional practice and the education systems. According to them, this would be possible through a shift in paradigm of engineering education. This measure aimed at equipping the engineers with the environmental knowledge necessary in the production of sustainable designs. The general long-term goal of the measures proposed in the book would be more sustainability-aware engineers in all engineering disciplines.
In conclusion, Civil engineering must be seen as the key profession to the incorporation of sustainability into our society. Attempts must therefore be made to equip the civil engineering students with the wider horizon of concepts in terms of environmental economic and social attributes. This would help them in making decisions which are sensitive to environmental sustainability issue. The higher learning institutions as well as the relevant departments in any engineering firm must therefore take the lead in this process.
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