Engineering in Sustainable Human Development: Challenges and Opportunities

Bud Ahearn
Retired Senior Executive of CH2MHill                                                                         
Retired Senior Civil Engineer U.S. Air Force                                                                    
Founding Sponsor of Engineers Without Borders – USA

Thursday, February 14, 2013
3:30pm - 4:45pm
129 DeBartolo

In the next two decades, almost two billion additional people are expected to populate the Earth, 95% of them in developing or underdeveloped countries. This growth will create unprecedented demands for energy, food, land, water, transportation, materials, waste disposal, earth moving, health care, environmental cleanup, telecommunication, and infrastructure. The role of engineers will be critical in fulfilling those demands at various scales, ranging from remote small communities to large urban areas, and mostly in the developing world.  In particular, we need to train a new generation of engineers who could better meet the challenges of the developing world and address the needs of the most destitute people on our planet. As we enter the first half of the 21st century, the engineering profession must embrace a new mission statement—to contribute to the building of a more sustainable, stable, and equitable world.

The presentation can be seen as the executive summary of a book being written by the speaker. It emphasizes the link between human development and sustainable development, two concepts that are closely linked in the overall discussion on poverty reduction. Both concepts contribute to securing healthy, productive, and meaningful lives to all. The book is also about the need for a new epistemology of engineering practice and education; one that is based on the idea of reflective and adaptive practice, system thinking, engagement, and a holistic approach to global problems.

Dr. Amadei is Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his PhD in 1982 from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Amadei holds the Mortenson Endowed Chair in Global Engineering and served as Faculty Director of the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities from 2009-2012. He is also the Founding President of Engineers Without Borders - USA and the co-founder of the Engineers Without Borders-International network. Among other distinctions, Dr. Amadei is the 2007 co-recipient of the Heinz Award for the Environment; the recipient of the 2008 ENR Award of Excellence; an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering; and an elected Senior Knight-Ashoka Fellow. He holds three honorary doctoral degrees. Dr. Amadei was recently appointed as a 2012 Science Envoy by the U.S. Department of State.