Young Engineers Look Towards Concrete

Doug Enright 

Young engineers around the world are looking for ways to change how construction works, become more eco-friendly and find ways to build without impacting the world around them. Concrete, and steel, are arguably the two most commonly used building materials with wood often competing for second or third in the list. Without concrete, builders would be hard-pressed to find a way to lay roads, foundations and more. That’s why these engineers are looking for ways to recycle, reuse and reduce the environmental impact of concrete.

At the American Society of Civil Engineers Southeast Conference, Yamaris Rivera, a senior at the University of Puerto Rico, was talking about using concrete to build a canoe. A canoe? Who would’ve thought of using concrete to build a canoe? She’s looking at the bigger picture of how concrete can be used in ways we haven’t thought possible, such as on the ocean and floating. Would you ever consider using concrete this way? Probably not.

The only way construction will change is when engineers, architects and builders like Rivera look for different and innovative ways to use concrete. By changing our expectations and how concrete is used, we can find ways to do things better. By looking at ways to reduce our environmental impact of building, we can also increase our investment in the earth and how we’re treating it.

Innovation doesn’t come overnight and for a building material like concrete that’s been used for a thousand years, it may seem easier said than done to find new ways to use it, but engineers are working to do just that and more.

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