Conference to reduce engineering impact

With the World Equestrian Games arriving in Central Kentucky in 2010, urban planning has been a subject of discussion lately; mountain top removal mining, however, has been a subject of much debate for environmental clubs and state legislators for years.

These are just two of several environmental issues that will be discussed at Engineering Earth: the Impact of Megaengineering Projects, a conference early next week hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Geography.

Megaengineering projects are engineering jobs that are huge in scale or in cost. Scholars from 10 countries including Australia, China, India and Nigeria will present on the effects of these mega projects such as hydroelectric dams, irrigation systems, coastal reclamation, river diversion, deforestation, ocean mining, military ecologies, and construction of tourist developments.

“My goal for this small international conference is to get together people from different areas of expertise — engineers, architects, environmentalists — to talk about projects and develop collaborations,” said Stanley Brunn, UK geography professor.

“Many of these professionals operate in parallel universes, for example engineers aren’t always aware of the social impacts, so making these professionals sensitive to other points of view is a great step.”

Brunn said while megaengineering projects are massive, everything is based on a matter of scale.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s tearing down a house or building a huge skyscraper, these projects make an impact on us whether they be engineering, social or environmental,” Brunn said.

In addition to urban planning and mountain top removal, the issues of ecotourism, global warming, water diversion and irrigation, highways and transportation and the social impact of megaengineering projects will also be the subject of this three-day conference beginning Monday.

Pertaining to the local issue of surface mining, the film “Mountain Top Removal,” will be shown and followed with a discussion from filmmaker and environmental activist Michael O’Connell.

The Engineering Earth conference begins Sunday at 7 p.m. with a reception and presentations begin at 8:30 Monday morning after a welcome from UK Provost Kumble Subbaswamy. All events will be held at the Hilton Suites and are free and open to the public.