Bridge winds through the landscape with a cliff on the right and water on the left.
(Photo by Silas Baisch on Unsplash)

By Marsia Geldert-Murphey, P.E., F.ASCE

In 2023, the United States experienced a record-breaking number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, beating out 2020 by six for a total of 28. Information like this confirms the importance of civil engineering teams worldwide having the most up-to-date, accurate data and current best practices for resilience. Most of our transportation systems and structures were not designed to handle what we now know to be dynamic failure mechanisms. As civil engineering professionals, we need to work together to expand the well of wisdom for our collective benefit. 

Woman wearing gray blazer with short hair smiles at the camera.
Marsia Geldert-Murphey, P.E., F.ASCE

ASCE does just that through its geographically diverse network. Our incredible pool of resources includes members from all over the world, as well as technical institutes and groups with unparalleled expertise, all leveraging their collective wisdom and resources that lead to more robust recommendations and remediations to effectively address complex challenges.

ASCE’s solution is to create unambiguous minimum requirements for designing or developing standards and manuals of practice. We have over 70 standards prepared by more than 2,700 member volunteers.

We must also engage in cross-disciplinary collaboration to understand the complexity and magnitude of today’s challenges. The NOAA-ASCE partnership and last year’s memorandum of understanding make that possible by expanding the present-day science and data available to infuse into our building and civil engineering codes, standards, and best-practice manuals.

Through this partnership, we can both meet our missions more effectively. Our mission is to lead the civil engineering profession to sustainably advance and protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. NOAA’s mission is to provide scientific expertise, data, and services to inform decision-making and promote the sustainable use and conservation of Earth’s natural resources for today and future generations.

We published Standard Practice for Sustainable Infrastructure (ASCE/COS 73-23), our first-ever cross-disciplinary standard, and we updated Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Buildings (ASCE/SEI 41-23) to better align with the U.S. Geological Survey’s seismic hazard model and new provisions related to structural steel and reinforced concrete in existing buildings. Additionally, our newly released digital platform for standards, ASCE AMPLIFY, makes it easier for civil engineers to work with ASCE standards and put the provisions into practice.

Civil engineers must address our challenges today and inspire curiosity and hope for future generations. That’s why the Society also invested in Cities of the Future, our new IMAX movie that premiered in February. Our goal with this film is to excite the younger generation to change the world for the better and demonstrate how civil engineers are making that better world a reality today.

Infrastructure leaders play a crucial role in disaster mitigation and response. We must ensure that existing communities can rebuild safer and more resilient infrastructure and that new communities are prepared for the promise of future uncertainties. 

Marsia Geldert-Murphey, P.E., F.ASCE, is a regional director for Lochmueller Group. She is the 2023-24 ASCE president.

This article first appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Civil Engineering as “Infrastructure Leaders: Building Resilient Communities.