App(s) of the Week – Civil Engineering Magazine AND the ASCE 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

ASCE logo

When you attend college at West Point, a place known far and wide as an “Engineering School,” you’ll certainly be taking at least a few classes in the discipline of Civil Engineering (CE). Even the most basic CE courses, meant for non-CE majors, will have content that covers building construction, utilities, bridge design, transportation systems, and other large-scale projects – and wouldn’t it be nice to have some apps that could get you up to speed on these topics? Well – we’ve got some to suggest today!

CE Mag App

First, the Civil Engineering Magazine App, which does exactly what its title promises: delivers the latest issue of Civil Engineering Magazine to your device. The paper copy of the magazine, ASCE’s flagship publication, is free to members of ASCE, and available through a paid subscription to non-members – but ANYONE can create a free ASCE account and read the latest issue free via this app. Simply download the app from iTunes or Google Play, and when prompted to sign in, either create an account, or sign in with your existing membership # if you are already an ASCE member. Once you are in, the latest issue will download, and voila! The entire issue, with articles, reviews, ads and member information is at your fingertips. Read all about the latest happenings in the CE world, from projects like bridges, dams, and highways, to news about well-known firms and engineers, to insight on how Federal and State government policies affect design, construction, and the profession of Civil Engineering.

ASCE Report Card 1

Next, the ASCE 2013 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure.  The American Society of Civil Engineers prepares this report card periodically, and for the first time, it’s available as an interactive app for your smartphone or tablet. As a Civil Engineering student (or instructor!), it’s important to know about the current state of our country’s infrastructure, and this app will get you up to speed on just what grade the ASCE gives to our various infrastructure systems (highways, dams, drinking water, solid waste, etc.). The app provides the full content of the 2013 Report, enhanced for viewing on your device – with videos that explain the extent of our infrastructure systems and their importance to our lives, and outline where they are either succeeding or falling into disrepair, while providing links to data that further explains the conclusions of the report. With participation from government officials and noted engineers and planners, the introductory video gives a concise overview of the current condition of America’s infrastructure, and where and why much improvement is necessary. Those statements are backed up with the evidence in the report’s text and data, presented with clear and informative graphics, and with features that provide news feed updates so that the very latest information is available to the reader.

ASCE Report Card 2

Best features of the 2013 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure:

  • Excellent graphics, with plenty of videos and data (charts, statistics, financial information) to break up what could otherwise be a dry text-heavy report. Lots of interaction.
  • Specific information on infrastructure in each state (when available), which makes the report’s information easily relatable.
  • News feeds will provide real-time updated information on the issues and projects addressed in the report.
  • Pages can be bookmarked for easy referral, and shared via social media.

 Downsides:

  • Perhaps the greatest one is learning that America’s infrastructure, according to ASCE, is not in great shape – however: that means there’s plenty of work for engineers, both in and out of the Army, so maybe that’s the silver lining.
  • Information-heavy; although you can choose to read it a section at a time, there’s a LOT in this report, and it will take a while to get through completely.

Bottom Line:

While the CE Engineering magazine app and the 2013 Report Card are designed to deliver slightly different information, together these two apps provide a great way to stay current on the developments and state of affairs of both the engineering profession and the infrastructure we rely on as we go about our daily lives.

Further Reading:

Press release from ASCE for the 2013 Infrastructure report

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Laura Mosher, Reference and Liaison Librarian