On May 23, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) launched an in-depth study on the future trends and opportunities influencing how U.S. transportation infrastructure will move people and goods in the year 2050. The study was unveiled during a symposium hosted by AEM and Northwestern University to close out Infrastructure Week 2016.
The study was produced by a multi-disciplinary team at Northwestern University, including experts in the fields of civil and environmental engineering, economics and sustainability, which reviewed the study’s findings and discussed how to leverage future opportunities, technologies and trends in pursuit of a national and comprehensive plan for U.S. infrastructure.
The symposium also featured remarks from several national and state transportation thought leaders and policymakers, including, Kennametal CEO Ron De Feo, who urged the audience to think about what U.S. infrastructure could and should look like in the year 2050.
“The objective of the study is not to predict the future, but to frame scenarios and trends that will inform the public and policymakers about what is possible,” said De Feo, who serves as chairman of AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 Task Force. “AEM and its members will use this study to articulate the factors and trends that will shape a national, long-term vision for U.S. infrastructure. There is much to discuss, debate and, most importantly, decide.”
Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering Dean Julio Ottino also addressed the symposium. “It was a privilege for our faculty to partner with AEM on this study,” said Ottino. “Thinking about the future of our national infrastructure is a critical issue, and one that requires a broad team of experts across many fields.”
The keynote address was delivered by U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez.
“Last year, the department released Beyond Traffic, a report outlining the biggest challenges facing America’s infrastructure over the next three decades, including a population that will grow by 70 million more people,” said Deputy Secretary Mendez. “Close collaboration between the public and private sectors, like the partnership with AEM and Northwestern University, will play an important role in determining how we move people and freight better in the future, and support the American economy.”
The symposium at Northwestern University and last week’s panel discussion on Capitol Hill are both part of AEM’s broader Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative, which seeks to elevate the national discussion about the future of infrastructure and ensure that equipment manufacturers are positioned to help the world build its next wave of infrastructure.
The Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative also features a crowdsourced, incentivized competition to generate new ideas about U.S. infrastructure from a grassroots community of problem-solvers. Winners of the crowdsourced competition will be announced at AEM’s flagship trade show, CONEXPO-CON/AGG, in March 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.