MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF ENGINEERING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Keywords:Sustainability, lifecycle management, resilience, education, professional development
Engineers have a significant role in the sustainable development and management of resources.
This responsibility encompasses the three generally accepted dimensions of sustainability – environment,
economic and social - and applies to engineering projects throughout their life cycle. Sustainable engineering
practice is supported by professional engineering associations, such as Engineers Australia, which includes
the promotion of sustainability as a principle of its Code of Ethics. It has also been given impetus by the
recent Paris Agreement on climate change. However, while there has been considerable progress in this field,
there is much work required to achieve a truly sustainable future. While the industry has a major role in
promoting and encouraging sustainable practices in engineering projects, educators also have a significant
role in this process, through developing and fostering the knowledge and skills of sustainability in engineers.
At the undergraduate level, this task is normally undertaken through courses that teach the principles of
sustainable engineering practice. A major challenge for educators, however, is the ongoing development of
the knowledge and skills of sustainable engineering taught in such courses. While postgraduate courses can
achieve this objective, the majority of practicing engineers are unlikely to be able to undertake the detailed
formal study. Meeting this gap between sustainable engineering knowledge and its implementation, therefore,
presents challenges to educators. Possible options proposed include an ongoing commitment by government
and society to sustainability in engineering projects, ongoing implementation of innovative sustainable
engineering practices, and lifelong learning in sustainable engineering practices by professional engineers.