The Spanish Association of Civil Engineers has put themselves in the vanguard of countries embracing ASCE's global Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025 -- signing an endorsement of the Vision, translating the two Vision reports into Spanish, and staging a forum to discuss the implications of the Vision for Spain.
On June 21, 2010, Asociación de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales, y Puertos President Leonardo Torres Quevedo signed an endorsement of Vision 2025 in a joint memorandum also signed by ASCE President Blaine D. Leonard, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, at AICCP headquarters in Madrid. Beyond the endorsement, the memorandum calls for cooperation between ASCE and AICCP in seeking to achieve the Vision. Spain thus becomes the second country to sign such an endorsement, joining China, which embraced Vision 2025 in May.
The ASCE-produced reports The Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025 (published 2007) and Achieving the Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025: A Roadmap for the Profession (published 2009) stem from a 2006 ASCE-sponsored summit in which 60 participants, both from within and beyond the profession and from various countries, developed a picture of what the world should look like for civil engineering practice in 2025 and what role civil engineers would need to play. From that, the summit process crafted an aspirational vision in which civil engineers, as a body of professionals, will be master planners, designers, and constructors; stewards of the natural environment; innovators and integrators of technology; managers of risk; and leaders in shaping public policy, where "master" implies "leader" in both role and knowledge.
AICCP marked the official release of its translation of the Vision 2025 reports on June 22 with a forum at its headquarters. The well-attended session included a presentation on the Vision 2025 process and potential ways of achieving the Vision in a global context, followed by roundtable presentations and discussions featuring a panel of prominent Spanish civil engineers. Stefan Jaeger, ASCE managing director of Strategic, Board, and International Initiatives, gave the association a background presentation on Vision 2025. Jaeger also held separate discussions with AICCP on possible areas of cooperation, such as conferences, products and services, and continuing education.
Spanish civil engineering leaders take part in a roundtable on The Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025, hosted by the Asociación de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales, y Puertos (Spanish Association of Civil Engineers) on June 22 in Madrid. From left to right: Antonio Monfort, director of Aula Carlos Roa of Ineco-Tifsa; Stefan Jaeger, ASCE managing director of Strategic, Board, and International Initiatives; Leonardo Torres Quevedo, AICCP president; Luis del Rivero, president of Sacyr-Vallehermoso; Jesús Contreras, managing director of Iberinsa; and Edelmiro Rúa, president of the Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos of Spain.
Spain's civil engineering society aims to promote the Vision as broadly as possible across the country. Following the Madrid event, AICCP highlighted the Vision 2025 report on its home page with a link to a PDF version for downloading, the same version available on ASCE's Vision 2025 web page. The translation, which includes the Vision report and the Achieving the Vision report, also is a valuable tool for outreach to all Spanish-speaking countries. ASCE's Spanish colleagues also intend to place articles about the Vision in Spanish civil engineering publications. For its part, ASCE plans to pursue further endorsements of the Vision in other countries, help monitor the efforts that are undertaken, and share experiences with partners.
Roundtable panel participants provided a variety of perspectives on the future of civil engineering in Spain and the effect Vision 2025 will have. Antonio Monfort, director of Aula Carlos Roa of Ineco-Tifsa, noted the need for Spanish civil engineers to have a greater decision-making presence in the political and social spheres. Regarding Vision 2025, Monfort spotlighted two of the tasks outlined by the Vision -- the role of stewards of the environment and the influence of civil engineers in the political arena. It will be critical for decision-makers to listen to civil engineers when formulating policy, Monfort said, as civil engineers in Spain have lost political and social stature. The country supports an unsustainable model of production, he added, suggesting that Spanish companies need to modify their strategies to adapt to the global playing field.
Jesús Contreras, managing director of Iberinsa, outlined three scenarios for the future work of Spanish civil engineers. First, the demand for work in developed countries will probably be small and will center primarily on repair and maintenance, with some new projects requiring strict standards of sustainability and excellence. Second, countries on the road to developed status will provide a greater opportunity for Spanish engineering firms, especially in water and transportation projects in partnership with local firms. Finally, in the least developed countries, basic infrastructure work will be available, often funded by international financing organizations. Contreras emphasized that for Spanish firms to be considered for work abroad, they need to work hard to internationalize their services and their civil engineers need a stronger background in environmental engineering, management, and knowledge of foreign languages.
Luis del Rivero, president of Sacyr-Vallehermoso, expressed skepticism about achieving the goals of Vision 2025. He viewed the concept of civil engineers in Spain regaining a position of leadership within the country as somewhat utopian, believing that only in countries like China might that part of the Vision be attainable. Rivero also found the 15-year timeframe of the Vision insufficient to achieve such profound changes in the profession. Regarding the future of Spanish civil engineering firms, he pointed to international work as the key path for continued viability. Noting the critical importance of knowing other languages, Rivero said the vast majority of his company’s work is outside of Spain.
Edelmiro Rúa, president of the Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos of Spain, considered the Vision 2025 documents as an important exercise in reflecting on the future of the profession, a process that had started with a 1999 call to discuss the civil engineer in the 21st century. He emphasized that civil engineers need to be the planners of public works rather than just those who carry them out. Innovation stemming from engineering is also key, he noted.
The Spanish civil engineers view a new European Union higher educational standard as detrimental to achieving the Vision. The traditional path to a Spanish civil engineering degree has been five years of rigorous education, but the Bologna Accord, which requires commonality among all the European Union higher education systems, will require Spain to reduce its bachelor’s degree to four years of study.
Both ASCE and the Spanish civil engineers understand that the road to achieving Vision 2025 will not be easy. As the Vision 2025 Roadmap report notes, the Vision is attainable only in the sense that a curve approaches its asymptote -- getting there may always remain an aspiration. Inaction, however, is not an option, according to the Vision report. Civil engineers must shape their own destiny and not let others shape it for them.
Mirroring that perspective, AICCP President Torres quoted the words of William Jennings Bryan from the Vision 2025 report: "Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice."