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ACEC News / Industry Statistics

February 4, 2021

Engineering Our Way to a Better Future

Engineering Our Way to a Better Future

By John Carrato

The United States is currently facing a historic moment—we are battling a global pandemic, racing to get ahead of it; our infrastructure is in dire need of repair; our economy is struggling; and, last but certainly not least, we are facing issues of climate change never before seen in our lifetime.

It sounds as if those problems are insurmountable. They aren’t. I think many people outside the engineering industry would be surprised to learn that we are the perfect industry to help address these problems.

The industry is playing a critical role in helping to control the pandemic. Engineers are helping to produce and distribute the vaccine, building make-shift medical clinics and working to change air ventilation systems for a post-COVID world.

Most experts can agree that our infrastructure needs a significant amount of work, in many areas—roads, bridges, freight rail, public transit, ports, electrical grids and internet provision. And these needs tie into the environment and the economy.

We can help to build healthy, green buildings for the future. Engineers are already working on new ventilations systems for new buildings to address COVID and addressing how to make a building that’s possibly 20, 30 or 100 years old to be healthier and greener, reducing our carbon emissions footprint.

Engineers are making a difference in the environment everyday—take the Copperhill Watershed Restoration Project in Tennessee. The Copperhill restoration was a 20-year project that transformed a 50-square-mile site—severely damaged from more than a century of logging, mining and acid production—into a lush, clean and natural wonderland where residents now enjoy hiking, fishing and swimming.

Given the extensive role that the engineering industry plays in so many different aspects of our country’s life, it is not surprising that the industry has a considerable impact on the national economy. According to the ACEC Research Institute’s Industry Impact Series of reports, 1.5 million Americans are directly employed by the Engineering and Architectural services sector and that another 3 million jobs are supported by joint industries. Our latest study found that for each new job created in the Engineering and Architecture industry, two more are generated outside of it. That is a stunning fact. The study also found that the total economic contribution of the engineering and architectural services is nearly $600 billion. Again, showing the massive impact our industry has. In fact, every $1 in engineering revenue contributes $1.55 to U.S. GDP – quite the multiplier effect!

The engineering industry has a chance to make a positive impact on the environment and help restore the country’s infrastructure, all while helping to strengthen our economy. Learn more about the full reach and contributions of engineering to the national economy by downloading the 2020 Engineering Industry Economic Contribution.

John Carrato is chair of the ACEC Research Institute and chair of Alfred Benesch & Company.

All comments to blog posts will be moderated by ACEC staff.


February 4, 2021



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