There is more building going on in the world today than ever before (whole cities in certain emerging countries, offshore construction, transit networks…). Urban density demands the invention of entirely new solutions, for both buildings and infrastructures (very tall skyscrapers, urban infrastructure networks…). Needs are evolving, engendering constructions that are unprecedented in both function and size (mega-stadia, giant airports, high-speed rail networks, etc.).
The environmental impact of construction is such that a profound technical transformation is needed (reduction in energy costs, recycling facilities…). Phenomena like soil erosion, pollution, and subsidence are increasingly common; overcoming them requires significant development in soil mechanics and the associated techniques. New materials (very high-resistance concrete and steel, composites) and new, IT-related calculation methods are emerging, transforming structural design.
The relationship between society and technology has changed. Close attention to the context, to the environment, and to users is now demanded, which means that engineers have to be able to explain, negotiate and to debate in order to implement the most appropriate technical solutions. These crucial changes call for design and structural engineers of the highest caliber, capable of handling complexity in a multidisciplinary approach.