Since I’ve been writing this blog now for about 1 year or so, I figured it was a good time to reflect. My first entry “structural engineering weblog manifesto” was the first step on my new adventure. While my scope of topics has grown somewhat as time passed, I am comfortable with the inclusive nature of the website.
My purpose in writing this blog was to show that structural engineers should be actively involved in the process of design. Engineering is not just another trade involved in construction. Engineers must be intimately involved from day one for optimal results. Strong communication skills and a synergistic relationship with the design team is the only way a project can move from adequate to sublime. Buildings that inspire, that push the boundaries of technology, or that serve as an icon for a community need more than just the best architects, they need the best engineers as well.
I have also learned to appreciate my role as a blogger. The typical stereotype of an engineer is someone who shuns public attention and concentrates on technical subjects even when humanistic problems are to blame. I am no different. It is a horribly frightening experience to put one’s opinions on the internet and start discussions about sensitive topics. Even when someone tells me that they enjoyed a post or article it feels wrong. But I know it is absolutely necessary that we speak up for ourselves as individuals. Instead of shunning public attention, I have instead shunned anonymity. Since my profession is one of accountability, I feel it would be unethical to anonymously voice my opinions.
Our professional organizations do a great job speaking for our profession, but that is only one side of life. I encourage engineers (and indeed anyone who has something to say) to start a website. Maybe join up with a few like-minded individuals, either as a student group at an engineering school, or fans of architecture within a city. If that is still too far for the first step, then start small with a journal or notebook where you write down ideas for later use.
Engineers have the ability to change the built environment so that public welfare is dramatically improved. Civil engineers are the builders of civilizations. But we are also a part of that civilization. We need to show our social awareness in addition to our technical skills.