5.3 INDUSTRY’S ROLE

There are two issues related to the role of industry in meeting the challenges of advancing the state of the practice in geoengineering. The first issue is that the current state of the practice does not match the current states of knowledge and understanding. The second issue is that industry, in general, does not play a very active role in advancing either the state of practice (at least from a technological viewpoint) or the states of knowledge and understanding. There are several seemingly simple and straightforward measures that can address these issues, but institutional inertia and a perceived lack of economic benefit create powerful barriers to implementation. For instance, continuing education plays an important role in facilitating the incorporation of new knowledge and technology into practice, thereby closing the gap between the state of the practice and the states of knowledge and understanding. Because they fail to perceive any economic benefit for their firms, many employers are reluctant to pay the total cost of continuing education for their employees, including both the direct cost of registering for courses and workshops and indirect costs associated with release time from work, travel, and other associated expenses. In the absence of any regulatory mandate for continuing registration (e.g., in order to renew a professional license), many employers will continue to resist paying for continuing education until it becomes an economic imperative. Professional societies can play an important role in establishing this imperative by continuing to lobby for such best practices as qualifications-based selection (QBS) for engineering services as well as mandatory continuing education for license renewal. ASCE Manual 45, which provides recommendations for QBS for engineering services, is one example of the role professional societies can play in advancing the field (ASCE, 2003). Other important initiatives that professional societies like ASCE, Association of Soil and Foundation Engineers, and American Rock Mechanics Association can use to help close the gap between the state of knowledge and the state of practice include the use of quality criteria in awarding construction contracts and peer review and value engineering design practices.



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