APWA Book Review

Me, Myself and Infrastructure: Private Lives and Public Works in America
167 pp * 2005 * ASCE * Gregory K. Dreicer

Me, Myself and Infrastructure: Private Lives and Public Works in America is a consumer's-eye view of infrastructure—the technological networks that keep society connected and that define modern life. The behavior and values of individuals shape infrastructure: the location of a pedestrian crosswalk, the taste of drinking water, the durability of a bridge. At the same time, infrastructure shapes everyone's lives—the ability to drive anywhere at any time, take half-hour showers, and discard computers after a couple years of use. Me, Myself and Infrastructure looks at public expectations and the everyday experience of infrastructure while considering the roles of civil engineers as designers, builders and managers.

Urban and suburban infrastructure is the major cultural and technological achievement of the last 150 years. That's why an examination of your relationship to infrastructure reveals how you want to live. It exposes the intensity of your concern for the environment and public health. It demonstrates what you know about the history and future of everything around you. Highways for commuting, clean water for drinking, and buildings for working, living, and playing are just a few examples of civil engineering's vital role in our society's past, present, and future. Our nation's economy—in fact, the world's economy—is based on an infrastructure that undergirds our communities. Many conveniences would be impossible without the technology and infrastructure that civil engineers provide.

As the world edges into a new century, possibilities abound for the engineering profession to play an integral role in solving the world's most pressing needs. From the crying need for modern transportation, power, water and wastewater systems in the developing world to the explorations and adventures in space, the challenges facing humanity are great. These challenges demand innovative civil engineering solutions. It is essential that civil engineers and the public develop an effective partnership to forge new, creative paths for the near and distant future.

Each chapter of Me, Myself and Infrastructure asks the fundamental questions about the civil engineering networks that define your life:

  • Who's responsible? Introduces the people behind suburban life in Washington, D.C.
  • Is it safe? Crosses streets in Atlanta, New York, and Portland, Oregon, in search of the origins of security.
  • Why so big? Examines the link between home and infrastructure.
  • Is it available? Analyzes the essential ingredient of every coffee shop in New York.
  • How much does it cost? Explores the underpinning of the information age in a Silicon Valley office building.
  • How long will it last? Reflects on the durability and disposability of materials and structures.

The answers to these questions define our lives, and this book examines the invisible links between our private lives and public works. It reminds us of how much we depend upon the dedication and expertise of the civil engineers who make possible the lifestyle that we cherish.

For more information on purchasing this book and other American Public Works Association books, please visit the APWA Bookstore online at www.apwa.net/bookstore or call the APWA Bookstore at (800) 848-APWA, ext. 5254.