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Industry leaders discuss the positive signs for the built environment

How civil engineering can deliver a better society as the world starts to recover from the impact of Covid-19. 

Civil engineering can deliver a better society.
Civil engineering can deliver a better society.

With the UK government committed to investing billions in infrastructure and a growing global awareness of the challenges we face, David Barwell, Aunsha Shah and ICE President Paul Sheffield discuss how civil engineering can transform lives and build a sustainable world.

David Barwell

David Barwell, AECOM Chief Executive, UK & Ireland

"The future of engineering, through driving innovation, has never been more exciting. Our global society, and as a result, our industry, is on the cusp of change.

"The coronavirus pandemic has brought everything into sharp focus - we must build back better. We must bring all engineering skills together and the advancement in digital design and construction is key. With advancing design tools, engineers are now more focused on creative thinking with greater emphasis on better outcomes for our communities.

"Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, we were moving to advancing technologies to improve construction productivity and tackle our climate emergency – these must remain our top priorities. We and a number of our peers are in regular dialogue with government and can influence the agenda regarding how we are able to support the economic recovery of the UK, and it is unanimously agreed that infrastructure is vital to activate economic growth.

"Future engineers will be responsible for creating more sustainable infrastructure and buildings. Our skills have helped to control airborne diseases in hospitals and public spaces. We create places and systems that lower our carbon footprint.

"We at AECOM have had to make some very tough decisions about introducing new talent to our business through our early career’s programmes at present. We want to ensure that we deliver on our promise and ensure the environment is conducive for your development, but I know that there are some exciting times ahead."


Ausha Shah

Anusha Shah BEng MSc CEng FICE , Director- Resilient Cities of Arcadis
Royal Academy of Engineering - Visiting Professor of King's College London

"I have never been more excited to be a civil engineer. Whilst we are still dealing with COVID-19, we need to stay focused on other related global challenges like climate change, poverty and poor infrastructure with clear and actionable plans.

"Our profession is moving ahead and we have already started to engineer a built environment in harmony with nature. The future looks promising – it’s great to be a part of a vibrant profession that serves the needs of society and is providing tangible solutions to global challenges.

"From building climate resilient places to de-carbonising construction to fully embracing the digital revolution and collaborating across industries, there is so much to do. Using the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals framework, we have a fantastic opportunity to create a sustainable, safe and resilient world.

"I find it hugely rewarding to be part of a profession that will lead the way in leaving a better world for future generations.


Paul Sheffield

Paul Sheffield CBE BSc CEng FICE, ICE President,
Supervisory Board Director of BAM Group
Non-Executive Director of Southern Water Services

"Before the pandemic hit us, one of the biggest challenges that the delivery of the nation’s infrastructure faced over the coming years was finding enough qualified professionals people to fulfill the roles required to deliver the enormous programme of work that we could see ahead of us.

"The fundamentals of this have not changed despite the current situation. The population growth we see in the UK and the drive to de-carbonise our infrastructure by 2050 (which has been cast into UK legislation) provides an imperative that will create fantastic life-long career opportunities for young people making their career choices today.

"A career in civil engineering and construction will be vibrant, innovative, creative, and above all else - it will genuinely make a massive difference to people’s lives forever."

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