This article is part of the series “Equity and Infrastructure: How Infrastructure Influences Social Equity,” which is being published by Civil Engineering magazine and Civil Engineering Source over the next several months.

Civil engineers play a critical role in our society. The structures they create shape our world, influencing significant issues such as social equity.

America’s interstate highway system connects communities but has also segregated them in some cases. Neighborhoods established in more industrial or vulnerable areas have often faced substantial challenges in developing. And during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students living in rural areas or disadvantaged communities struggled to keep up with school because of limited access to broadband.

Success and good quality of life for all rely on a built environment that is equitable and inclusive.

In this episode of ASCE Interchange, Maya Trotz, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of South Florida, examines social equity in infrastructure.

“If we’re all given that opportunity to really flourish, I think that is what equitable infrastructure means for communities, the types of innovations, and the types of livelihoods that people might have,” said Trotz.

She believes that the key to equitable infrastructure is the word “access” – access to education, energy, clean drinking water, and everything that communities need to thrive. Engineers can then consider “the happiness factor,” using it as the metric to determine if an infrastructure system promotes good quality of life for the public.

To view all Interchange episodes, visit ASCE’s YouTube channel.

Discover more from the “Equity and Infrastructure: How Infrastructure Influences Social Equity” series.