“Our world is changing at an accelerating pace. Understanding the drivers of change is more critical than ever. Our future will require a new way of doing things. A new plan. A new vision.” This quote can be found at the top of the new home page for ASCE’s Future World Vision and is certainly true for all of us in the Transportation and Development (T&DI) space. A current scan of the many advertisements for automated and electric vehicles, the rapid development of smart technology, and the continued challenges with the sustainability of our infrastructure are three of multiple reasons why it is essential for ASCE and T&DI to help lead the exploration of a “Future World Vision”.
I had the wonderful opportunity this month to visit Brigham Young University (BYU) and talk with their ASCE student chapter members and faculty. During my 50-minute presentation and following discussions, I highlighted my view of today, tomorrow, and the future of transportation engineering research with the latter focused specifically on the Future World Vision material prepared by ASCE. Student engagement and feedback was outstanding! One of the many objectives of this ASCE led effort is to inspire and engage thinking and conversation and encourage the next generation of civil engineers to ‘dream big’. My first experience in talking about what our future world may look like and how civil (transportation) engineers may impact this vision greatly exceeded my expectations!
Please take a look at the Future World Vision material and let’s start a discussion about what this all means for the future of T&DI. How do we lead the discourse as we develop mega cities and technology-driven rural cities? Is it possible that we will be talking about the development of floating, frozen, or off-planet cities in the near future? As the world transitions to autonomous and electric vehicles, and perhaps an aerial delivery and personal transportation system, how does the development of vertical cities, the transition to alternative energy sources, the effects of climate change, and the policy and funding needs drive this transition? There is a quote, attributed to several sources, that says, “If you think you are leading but no one is following, then you are only taking a walk.” Let’s all think about how T&DI can move beyond walking and truly take the next steps in leading the future of our profession.
A great place to begin and continue this conversation will be at our next in-person event, which is the International Conference on Transportation & Development (ICTD) in Seattle, Washington, May 31 through June 3. Registration is now open. All committees will be active and meeting over the course of these four days and you will have many opportunities to share your thoughts and ideas through both formal and informal conversations. I very much look forward to seeing all of you in Seattle and hearing your thoughts as you become future world visionaries!
As always, your thoughts and feedback are welcome. Please reach out to me if you would like to learn more or need assistance finding an active role in our Institute. Thank you for all you do and will do for this wonderful Institute we call T&DI. Stay healthy and safe!
David A. Noyce, Ph.D., P.E.
President, Transportation & Development Institute (T&DI)
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)