Last Friday I spent the day with some of really smart people at the Institution of Civil Engineers North America Convention in Vancouver, BC. While I haven’t yet parsed all of the information, the day left me with mixed feelings about the future of the industry. On one hand, engineers can save the world – but they’ve been at the root of many of the world’s problems as well, so we need to be cautious in how we progress. And on the other, there is a fixation with growth and techno-fantasies that appears to be bordering on unhealthy – there is no such thing as a free lunch.
I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks, but I am grateful to have been part of this convention – it was very much a big picture conference focusing on many of the challenges we are facing or are likely to face in the coming decades. Many of the issues are along the lines of what I commonly write about here, but having a day to sit and listen and discuss these issues with a group of engineers is quite a unique experience.
It also gave me an opportunity to travel several times on the newly constructed Canada Line of Vancouver’s skytrain network. A truly outstanding improvement to Vancouver’s public transit network, and an example of a large scale civil project that had it’s challenges but was delivered on time and is already running close to capacity, (some 100,000 people use this train a day). I’ll get some of my photos up on Flickr as well soon.