The long, hot, dry summer here in the heartland is rapidly drawing to a close and fall is in the air. That's a good thing! While I enjoy having my 6-year-old off from school and the rare summer vacations we might take, this summer was absolutely brutal.
As dry as things were (we went a month with no rain whatsoever) and with expansive soils, structural engineers can only imagine some of the problems created by the drought. Houses and buildings all over our region developed cracks where they never had them before as the dirt shrank and foundations shifted. We even saw problems with 100-year-old houses that had stayed put for a long time prior to this summer. It's not good. That's not to mention all the other problems this drought has created or will create. There have been some terrible fires here in the center of the country, injuring people and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. And now that everything is dried out to a crisp and the ground is as hard as a rock, the next problem we'll have when the rain starts back is flash flooding.
The good news is that all of these problems – and many more in the world – can create opportunities for structural engineers. Floods, earthquakes, tropical storms, transportation problems; problems of growth, building new cities, rebuilding old cities, aging infrastructure in dire need of rehabilitation – there are so many problems and opportunities for structural engineers to work on that the future has to be bright for those in your profession.
Yes – it would be nice if engineers got paid better. You have to go to school for a long time. You have to study hard and work years under the supervision of a registered professional engineer and pass a test to get your license(s). And you have to keep getting more education to keep that license. But in spite of all that, the solid majority of structural engineers – working in consulting, for the government, or industry – have a very high level of job satisfaction. You love your work. That's easy when you know you're doing something society needs that helps your fellow man.
Here at Structural Engineer magazine we want to help promote your accomplishments – to each other and to the world at large. We want to hear from you with stories about challenges overcome, problems solved and opportunities created. All of our editors – from Dan Cuoco, to João Ferreira, to Christina Zweig – are here to serve and promote YOU. Help us, and yourselves, out and give us your thoughts and ideas.
Meanwhile, enjoy this September issue of Structural Engineer!
Mark C. Zweig,