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Engineering Agile Civil Systems

In the context of civil engineering, the idea of systems engineering relates to the products engineered in the field. The  complexity of the civil systems does not allows for a strict separation of these in relation to the other systems design by the other fields, but rather allows for an integrated approach. To emphasize the complexity of the civil systems the following example was drawn. A car, from the perspective of auto industry, is mainly designed to move things from one location to another, as a transport mean. Generic information about the road is taken into account when testing the reliability of the system, but there is a clear separation of its design with respect to road. On the other hand, a civil system, such as road, bridge tunnel, etc. always need to be designed taking into account the interfaces with the cars. 

Over the years, the use of the systemic approach in all the engineering branches, including civil engineering, has become best practice, but there is a strong need for innovation. This need emerges from the fast growth of systems complexity and accelerated advancements in the technology field. As a result, system engineers have to perform the design and management tasks under increased uncertainty. In his book, Kingwell(2002) states: 

“We don't know what the future will bring, but that's because we are ever in the process of creating it, not because it is an alien force to which we have to submit.” 

To deal with this ever increasing complexity, agile thinking emerged as a response to the need for innovation. Agility offers a set of principles which aim to make a shift in the way of working, from changes rejection to changes embracement, from guessing the future to the use of current data and in the same time aiming to obtain products which are responsive to change. 

Related Teaching Direction

Related Publications

Lucian-Constantin Ungureanu, and Timo Hartmann. "Civil Systems Engineering: Definition and Basic Concepts." In Construction Research Congress 2018

Want more details?

For further questions please contact Lucian Ungureanu.

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