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EDITORIAL: The Great Road

from GBA

The following editorial conveys the opinions of the editor and not necessarily those of the Geoprofessional Business Association. GBA NewsLog welcomes editorial replies.

Capac Ñan
— the "Great Road" — is one of the most extraordinary geoprofessional accomplishments of all time; 24,000-miles long, crossing through Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. How the Incas did it is still somewhat of a mystery, because the Incas, despite their many accomplishments, were a preliterate society; they left no written records. But we do know this: The paved road that snakes through the Andes Mountains includes many stretches that are ramrod-straight and others made passable by structures like suspension bridges. Someone had to declare the project doable. Someone had to do the surveying. Someone had to assay surface and subsurface conditions along the way. Someone had to specify materials to deal with those conditions and make the road passable. Someone had to design the bridges and other structures required where the road would otherwise end. And they all had to do it with no written standards, guides, codes, or specifications. What do today's geoprofessionals know about the Great Road and those who made it possible? What do they tell their protégées, family, friends, and community about the road and their professional forebears who took it from start to finish? You and I both know the unfortunate answer, and so I ask this question: Can practitioners call themselves professionals if they've never been taught about their glorious professional heritage, and demonstrate little inclination to learn about it on their own? FYI, "The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire" will be a principal exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian through June 1, 2018. more

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