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What Is Resiliency in Engineering?

Resilient are the roads on which you drive, the bridges that you cross, and the buildings that stand tall year after year.  Of course, these components of our day-to-day need maintenance just like anything else but chances are, they were designed and constructed with the tools of their time to promote the highest level of foreseeable longevity.

Designing for resiliency is critical: significant resources are required to bring a design to physical realization–from raw materials to finished products, and all the skilled laborers in between, who turned earth into a sky scraper or forged a solid, flat path across a continent.

Purposeful resiliency is the antithesis of exposure, the refutation of risk.  Exposure and risk present themselves in many ways, through the process of engineering design–from rogue ocean waves and avalanches, to blistering summer heat and long, cold winters.  Will your building sway just right during the next big earthquake?  Will your road crack and heave, and become impassable within the first year?

Next, consider engineering design in cold regions. It presents unique challenges often concerned with permafrost dynamics, seasonal freezing and thawing of soil substrates, surface and subsurface hydrology, as well as climatology.  Further, cold regions are not unusual:

  • Permafrost underlies about 22% of the Earth’s land surface.
  • Freeze/Thaw occurs in seasonally frozen environments over more than 50 million square kilometers of the global biosphere.
  • Snow Covered Extent reaches across roughly 30 million square kilometers of the Northern Hemisphere

How we design and build, and ultimately advocate for resiliency in cold regions is the topic of this year’s ASCE Cold Regions Conference in Salt Lake City, UT.

Conference topics include:

  • Frozen Ground
  • Permafrost
  • Soil Stabilization
  • Pavements
  • Railways
  • Foundations
  • Building Structures
  • Bridge Structures
  • Frost Heave
  • Winter Road Maintenance
  • Construction and Logistics
  • Hydraulics and Hydrology
  • Utilities and Energy
  • Climate Change

Attend the conference, support ASCE and learn what resiliency is all about. Hope to meet you there.

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