lec_08 - MIT OpenCourseWare http:/ocw.mit.edu 1.133 M.Eng....

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MIT OpenCourseWare http://ocw.mit.edu 1.133 M.Eng. Concepts of Engineering Practice Fall 2007 For information about citing these materials or our Terms of Use, visit: http://ocw.mit.edu/terms .
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Sustainability Assessment, Southern California’s Water Needs and the “7 Questions” Method Susan Murcott MIT Course 1.133 – “Concepts” October 3, 2007
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Mulholland’s Dream in historical context… In the 19th and early 20th century, engineers implemented the promises of the Industrial Revolution. Engineers brought progress and economic development, with wide public support to carry out bold projects. • Archetype of “Engineer as Hero,” “enemy of error.”
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William Mulholland’s massive water projects occurred in this “Golden Age” of engineering. Some consider his work and legacy exemplary and even heroic.
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Others, such as Marc Reisne r, the author of Cadillac Desert, are more critical: “This is a desert! … Why bring more water in, that brings in more growth, that forces us to bring in more water. It’s a death vortex, the Red Queen [in Alice in Wonderland] running faster and faster just to say in place.”
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Were Mullholland’s projects “right” or “wrong?” And, how does one decide?
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Evaluation, Decision-Making, Values EVALUATION is the process of analyzing a # of plans or projects with a view to searching out comparative advantages and disadvantages and the act of setting down the findings in a logical framework. EVALUATION is not DECISION-MAKING. Decision- making is done by institutional players government, and the political process, engineering and scientific experts, monied interests. Evaluation is based on VALUES. (Ortolano, 1997) Different values are reflected in different assessment methodologies
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Back then, engineering project assessment was comparatively simple Technical /Engineering Components • Economic Cost Component
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Cost-Benefit Analysis In 1936, during the worst years of the Great Depression and at the beginning of enormous U.S. federal public works programs, Congress, worried about fiscal responsibility and whether federal agencies would spend funds wisely, passed the Flood Control Act. It required that federal projects be undertaken only if the benefits to whomsoever they may accrue are in excess of the estimated costs. Procedures for calculating monetary benefits and costs were developed = CBA.
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Cost-benefit Analysis is, to an engineer, an essential methodology. Like balancing a checkbook for a consumer, it is a fundamental capability. The general public is willing to pay to build projects benefiting society. But projects will not gain public support if the costs are too high. Cost-benefit analysis gives us the price-tag.
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lec_08 - MIT OpenCourseWare http:/ocw.mit.edu 1.133 M.Eng....

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