Yesterday, March 15th, a newly constructed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami collapsed on traffic killing at least 6 people and sending another 9 to the hospital. Rescue crews spent the night sorting through rubble and, by the morning, had discovered a total of 5 victim’s bodies.
The bridge was built in an attempt to make crossing the 8 lane highway below safer for students, as one student was struck by a vehicle last year and killed. FIU, which prides itself in having an excellent engineering school, utilized Accelerated Bridge Construction technology, which functioned to construct the bridge in 48-72 hours in order to minimize traffic closures. The bridge was also designed to withstand a category 5 hurricane. FIU News tweeted about the bridge construction on Saturday, posting a model of the design depicted with seemingly adequate support systems.
#DidYouKnow the new pedestrian bridge that will connect our FIU and the @CitySweetwater is the first in the world to be constructed entirely of self-cleaning concrete? #WorldsAhead pic.twitter.com/lQVJh09Pv2
— FIU News (@FIUnews) March 10, 2018
The bridge did not meet this depiction, as it was built without central supports and then quickly opened to roadway traffic below. After just 5 days, the concrete collapsed. This oversight of basic civil engineering procedures cost 6 people their lives, and cannot simply be chalked up as an accident.
Leonor Flores, FIU alum and the MCM’s Project Executive responsible for overseeing the bridge construction, previously argued that her gender gave her a different perspective, which would aid in her engineering:
It’s very important for me as a woman and an engineer to be able to promote that to my daughter, because I think women have a different perspective. We’re able to put in an artistic touch and we’re able to build, too.”
Clearly, whatever “artistic touch” Flores implemented in her bridge design was not sufficient to keep the bridge standing more than 5 days. Causing the death of 6 people hardly constitutes an adequate employee, and one could question under what standards Flores received her degree and was hired as the Project Executive.
The American standards for both university admissions and hiring practices has fallen significantly, with an increasing number of individuals accepted based on criteria other than merit. Women in both the armed forces and the police force have lower physical standards to meet than do their male counterparts. Likewise, race and even sexuality is often taken into account, with preference always given to underrepresented groups. Valuing these identity characteristics at the expense of merit causes considerably more harm than good for whatever industry implements this practice. Whether or not Flores was hired under such circumstances is merely speculation, but the fact that she used her gender to argue for her good standing as an engineer does call this into question and draw attention to the “diversity hire” issue as a whole.