The idea of creating this website was spawned from an essay I wrote for an American Society of Civil Engineers student essay contest. The essay prompt was:
With the heightened need for additional infrastructure funding and the increased political and public
awareness of this need, how would you suggest that civil engineers capitalize on this and use their knowledge
to increase political and public support of additional funding without sounding self-serving?
Below I have included the portion of my essay that discusses the motivations behind this website. On a personal note, if you do not care for the elements of rhetoric, please excuse them. I was writing this essay for a very specific audience and tend to prefer more direct, less theatrical language in my personal voice.
Physical infrastructure is essential to the operation of American society and enterprise. Our economic success would be impossible without the clean water system, modern power grid, and sprawling transportation network on which we have come to rely. However, decades of government divestment have left much of the American infrastructure in a state of disrepair. If the country allows this to continue, the economic prosperity and quality of life we have come to expect cannot be maintained. Civil engineers are the only individuals with the knowledge and resources to rebuild these structures, however this will require adequate reinvestment and increased civic participation. The key to generating necessary support for infrastructure funding is to create informed public awareness and a clearly outlined course of action for spending acquired funds.
The goal of generating public awareness is the primary objecting of Rebuild-US.net. By enabling citizens to see the impact of inadequate funding in their own neighborhood or region, and empowering them with accurate information regarding the repair work needed, the public will become a powerful voice of concern working toward the same goal as America’s civil engineers.
The public must be made to understand that the deterioration of America’s infrastructure is not the result of inactive or inattentive inspectors and civil engineers. Rather, years of reduced funding and divestment has limited the extent to which conditions can be addressed. The end-goal of this website is to give the public an accurate picture of the needed repairs and a better understanding of the role of the civil engineer as responsive public servants. Engineers must take a proactive and public education-driven approach. If we do not, the public will only see their tax money being spent to clog up traffic for weeks at a time and replace a bridge that seemed to be working just fine. The average citizen driving to work in the morning does not think about the rust, erosion, or scouring under the piers of the bridge they are crossing. Unless they are informed regularly and directly of the work that needs to be done, they will remain ignorant that anything is wrong.
Infrastructure is the backbone of the American economy. If our citizens understand the impact of vital infrastructure deterioration on their quality of life, they will take it upon themselves to pressure their representatives and government officials to support needed investment policies. Public awareness is crucial in the effort to undo two decades worth of divestment. Civil engineers must present themselves as the willing and able providers of the solutions we need or risk being blamed for every bridge failure, power blackout, and sewer collapse that occurs in the United States. The country’s infrastructure must be rebuilt and it is in the best interest of civil engineers to find a powerful ally in the concerned American public; this can only be achieved through comprehensive and well-executed public education.