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Engineering Public Infrastructure

Posted Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 12:08 PM

"First is a series of posts on how engineering shapes our world through infrastructure."

Engineering Public Infrastructure

PostedTuesday, August 29, 2017 at 12:18 PM

Kate Gramling
Kate Gramling
Engineering Public Infrastructure

“Infrastructure” is a boring word used to describe something that requires some of the most creative problem-solving on the planet. People often think of roads, dams, and perhaps water and sewer systems when they hear the word. But it covers a lot more than that.

Public infrastructure includes all those systems and technologies that allow communities to develop and thrive. In addition to large-scale structures, like those previously mentioned, it also covers complex systems like energy grids, communication networks, even financial markets and food distribution methods. In many parts of the world, the Internet is now essential to everyday life and considered part of our public infrastructure.

In ancient times, it was infrastructure that allowed large numbers of people to live and work in the same place year-round while supporting travel to and from farms and other towns. Those settlements grew into cities that, in some cases, had complex water and sewage systems as well as thriving markets and message services. Essentially, infrastructure advances helped civilization to develop.

Infrastructure usually reflects the geography surrounding a community. For example, the needs and concerns of a coastal metropolis in the tropics are very different from those of an agricultural town in the plains. But it also brings communities together. As civilization continues to become more global in nature, a single community’s infrastructure becomes more connected with that of other communities.

In our modern world, infrastructure development is one of the most tangible ways that engineering shapes the future. The homes in which we’ll live 15 years from now – as well as the places where we’ll work, the energy that will power them and the transportation that will connect them – are all being framed now by the infrastructure engineers are designing today.

Over the next several weeks, EngineerGirl will posting articles that explore different elements of public infrastructure. We’ll look at how engineers have made a difference in the world through systems that are not only practical, but are also a reflection of our culture and, perhaps more importantly, our hopes for the future.

Imagine your community 50 years from now. What engineering projects today will make that future possible?


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