Distressed wooden desk with a typewriter on it.
(Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash)

By Margaret M. Mitchell

“There is nothing permanent except change,” said Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher. And change is what you’ll see as you flip through this issue of Civil Engineering magazine because for the first time in 14 years, these pages have a new look.

Woman with brown skin wearing a black, sleeveless blouse smiles at the camera.
Margaret M. Mitchell

We know change isn’t easy for everyone. However, as with so many things in life, it’s time for the magazine to enter a new stage in its evolution: a more dynamic design with new fonts, bolder colors, and stronger graphic elements.

The cover is a “nod to tradition with an eye toward the future,” says Grace McConnell, ASCE manager of design and production and the “engineer” behind this redesign. The cover elements tie in with the bold interior graphics to present a cohesive look that enhances the text from cover to cover. The table of contents is more visual, and the departments and features boast modern color palettes and updated text treatments to showcase the content you know and love.

But the changes aren’t limited to the design. To be more strategic in the way information is presented, we’ve rearranged the content, putting the more member-focused items in the front of the magazine, followed by current and future innovations in technology, followed by fan favorites (The Law, Question of Ethics, and History Lesson) and project-related content.

We’ve also added a calendar to keep you informed about Society-wide events and conferences as well as a new section, in collaboration with the continuing education department, called Staying Sharp. Some of you have asked for more technical content, and this new section is one way to provide that fix for those who want to really get down in the weeds. More content changes are on the way, and we welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected].

In the July/August issue, we discussed what civil engineers are doing to preserve and restore historic structures. For this issue, however, we’re going into the near and far future, which fits right in with this idea of change. The projects and research presented in the feature articles make possible what once seemed impossible — whether that’s flying vehicles, underwater habitats, living on Mars, or artificial intelligence. All these projects will have major implications for the civil engineering profession and society in the decades to come.

Cities of the future” takes a mini dive into ASCE’s second IMAX film, Cities of the Future: Reimagining Our World. The article explores one engineering innovation featured in the film that could be commercially viable as early as 2025, according to author Celeste C.B. Bennett.

Building smart” highlights the recently opened 800 Fulton Market. Dubbed Chicago’s smartest building, the structure not only has a host of technologies that enhance the building’s interior environment, but it also has an innovative exterior brace system that expands and contracts, depending on the temperature.

Robert L. Reid dives into some of the novel design and engineering that go into building underwater habitats in “Blue future.” And from under the sea, we go to outer space — well, sort of — in “Fit for Mars,” which takes us to the Johnson Space Center in Houston where a 3D-printed habitat is home to a crew of four for a 378-day simulated mission to the red planet.

Last in the series is “Human-Machine Intelligence: Opportunities and Obstacles,” which examines research being conducted to integrate human and machine intelligence, what it will take to make this integration complete, and what this integration could mean for the field of civil engineering.

It’s a lot of change — fast. But we’re here for it.

Margaret M. Mitchell is the editor in chief of Civil Engineering print magazine

This article first appeared in the September/October 2023 print issue of Civil Engineering magazine as “Time for a Change.”

Cities of the Future: Reimagining Our World will be screened during the opening reception at the ASCE 2023 Convention that will take place in Chicago Oct. 18-21. For more information about the film and the conference, visit convention.asce.org.