Schools Training

Urban Planning Challenges for the New Millennium

20 NOV 2012
Career Path : Civil Engineering

There is perhaps no greater symbol for the progress of civilization than the city. In prehistoric times, mankind lived and traveled in small groups, like packs. These packs normally consisted of an alpha male, four or five other males, and several women and children in tow. They lived nomadic lifestyles and were a small enough group to easily move on when they exhausted one area’s resources for hunting and gathering. Cities were non-existent. But as history began to form through the passing on of culture and information, larger and larger groups of people began settling down and erecting edifices in order to preserve their unique histories as associated with their land.


The city dwellers of the Middle Ages could not have anticipated the industrial revolutions that modernity would bring about, and with it the massive migration from the country sides to the cities. This is why today; some cities have reached immense population numbers that the original builders of the cities did not plan for. Not only regarding proper housing, but for proper sanitation, transportation, waste management and an even distribution of residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas were not exactly ideal for many large cities at the turn of the century.


Today, major urban developments need to think not only of how to go back and re-plan the cities that are already built, but must also think toward the future. This is why most engineering technology programs place a special emphasis on having courses in urban development and sustainability. Here are some topics and questions that have become central to urban planning and engineering:


– Transportation: How do the existing highways and streets manage to handle the growing number of people dependent on cars? How to encourage people to use public transportation in congested city centres? What alternative means of transportation can be explored?

– Waste management: Where to locate waste dumps and how to regulate their growth? Are there materials that can be re-used or recycled that are otherwise wasted?

– Housing: How can new housing developments be built that are integrated into older neighborhoods without ruining the original character? How can we sustain affordable housing while maintaining a decent standard of living?

– Community services: How can we make more modern hospitals and fire stations with very efficient access from any part of the city without taking up too much space? How can we protect free public green space from continuous development?


It might not seem obvious that some of these questions are taken up in engineering programs. But in today’s technologically engineered cities, there is no question of community and civil life that can’t be expertly planned by skilled engineers. After all, one of the things engineers do best is making models, and the city is the ultimate model of modern civilization.



Visit Mohawk College for more information on engineering technology college.