By Kip Eideberg, AEM Vice President, Public Affairs & Advocacy  

In January, AEM and its members took a new and different approach to solving the toughest infrastructure challenges in United States by launching the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge, a three-phased, crowd-sourced competition seeking ideas from a community of everyday innovators.

Here is a quick recap of the initiative and where we are today. Phase one, the “Complain” phase, tasked competitors with making the case for the most pressing infrastructure issue facing our country today. The second phase, the “Dream” phase, asked competitors to identify actual solutions to infrastructure challenges, develop a rough plan of how those solutions would work, and explain what benefits they would bring to their communities.

A few weeks ago, the third and final phase of the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge launched. The “Build” phase, offering up to $100,000 in prize money, has tasked the community to design a transportation system that provides for the effective and efficient movement of people from starting point to final destination. Submissions are due in mid-December and we look forward to what the community will propose.

If you are attending CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 in March, you will get an exclusive view of the submissions at the show’s Tech Experience and the chance to attend a “Shark Tank” style event where the five finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.

To date, nearly 200 innovators from the United States and countries around the world have signed up to participate in the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge, and thousands more have taken to traditional and social media channels to join the discussion about the importance of crafting a long-term, national plan for the future of U.S. infrastructure.

By adopting the incentivized competition model, AEM has introduced a new tactic that moves the conversation beyond traditional political channels and gives everyone affected by the issues facing U.S. infrastructure a chance to voice their opinions and find solutions. The high-quality submissions received during the two first phases of the Challenge – including teams from top research universities in the United States – and the active participation of academics and experts as a direct result of the Challenge demonstrate that this is an effective approach to address and solve complex problems.

AEM members should be commended for expanding the definition of what it means to be a “thought leader” in the infrastructure space. This is, after all, what Infrastructure Vision 2050 is all about—providing a platform for equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders to think big and share innovative ideas on how to overhaul the crumbling infrastructure that Americans rely upon to move people, materials, products, services and information.

We encourage AEM members and anyone passionate about infrastructure to continue to reimagine U.S. infrastructure. We also encourage innovators who we have not heard from before to propose bold and disruptive ideas for 2050 and beyond.

If you would like to get involved or have questions about Infrastructure Vision 2050 and the Challenge, please contact me at keideberg@aem.org.

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