Transition Engineering: Planning and building the sustainable world

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Authors: S. Krumdieck

Publication Year: 2013


Journal: The Futurist

Volume: 47

Issue: 4

Categories: Organizational Change, Adaptive Cycle


Transition Engineering is an engineering discipline that enables change from unsustainable existing systems to more sustainable ones. It is common practice that safety considerations are included in the engineering process and design steps. It is however not obvious to include transition engineering to provide engineers the tools necessary to address sustainability in the design as well. Transition engineering addresses issues of future resource availability thereby identifying and realising opportunities for improvement and adaptation cross disciplinary. Krumdieck has introduced a framework to use transition engineering for successful sustainability transition change. Krumdieck is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, performing research in sustainability transition. Her article proposes that engineering analysis, modelling, and design can innovate adaptations to reduce the risks of un-sustainability to man-made systems. The reasoning is that numerous environmental crisis and changes have been initiated by mankind itself introducing new technology through engineering. For example the use of fossil fuel, or nuclear power generation have affected the environment locally bust also global. The framework suggests that adaptive changes for survival represent a balance between benefit and risk, and explains the role of engineering in these changes. In practice it includes the research, modelling, development, and application of high tech knowledge. This will bring changes in existing engineered systems in order to improve the odds of survival by reducing risks to safety, security, and sustainability. These changes are largely adaptations of existing systems rather than additions to them based on future scenarios.