Sunday, September 27, 2009

Green Buildings and Structural Engineering

The main theme of the 33rd IABSE Symposium at Bangkok (Sept. 9-11, 2009) is "Sustainable Infrastructure." The International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers (IABSE) recognizes the important role of structural engineers in ensuring sustainability in their creations to ensure that energy and natural resources are still available for the future generations.

The keynote lecture on "Green Buildings and Structural Engineering" by Gene Corley (USA) highlights how structural engineers can contribute to sustainability by following the LEED Green Building Rating System - a framework for asssessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. A rating of 40 points will earn a building a LEED Certification. Structural engineers, in particular, can earn LEED points in the category of Materials and Resources and the following subcategories:

(a) Building reuse - instead of demolition, the building structure or shell is reused.

(b) Construction waste management - diverting construction and demolition waste from ladfill into other uses

(c) Materials reuse - a portion of the materials of the project must be salvaged or recycled

(d) Recycled content - use of materials with "recyled content"

(e) Regional materials - use of local materials will reduce transport and energy cost

Structural engineers should design building which are adaptable to provide for ease of alteration or amendment in use. Buildings which consists of elements that can easily be deconstructed are preferrable for possible reuse. By proper planning and efficient design and knowledgeable of sustainability concepts, green buildings can be successfully built.

The author (center) with Filipino engineers infront of the IABSE booth.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Online MS/PhD Programs in Asia

The general consensus the world over is that online degrees are not as acceptable as their regular counterparts, but that perception is slowly changing as the face of academia itself undergoes a significant change. Today, even doctoral programs are being offered online and are accepted in all kinds of job settings as equal to those degrees that have been earned in traditional classrooms.

The situation in Asia is not that different from the rest of the world. People turn to online degrees for various reasons, the most significant of them being time. When it comes to a graduate program like MS or a doctoral degree like PhD, most of us prefer to earn them online because it allows us to continue with our work and study during our free time. The schedules are flexible enough to allow us to multitask with efficiency. We don’t need to take time off work and we get our regular salary as well. Besides, some employers are willing to sponsor their employees’ education, so this means you gain knowledge and are in a position to climb up the career ladder, all at no extra cost.

Various universities across Asia offer online MS and PhD programs, and some of the more prominent ones are The Open University of Hong Kong (China), University Sains Malaysia(Malaysia), University of the Philippines (Philippines), and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (India). While most of them do not require on-campus residency, some do mandate the same for a short period, either a few months or 15 to 20 days.

When you choose to study online, consider the discipline and the university rather than just the degree itself. For example, even a master’s degree from a prestigious university may hold more value than a doctoral degree from an unaccredited one. Or, a degree in a field that offers various job opportunities is infinitely more useful than one that is difficult or more interesting. Also, check the accreditation of the college you’re applying to and verify its credentials before you enroll. It’s best to talk to alumni of the college and discuss their experience before you decide that this is the university for you.

This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of engineering degrees online. Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address: