AEM Unveils Future of Infrastructure Study at Northwestern

May 24, 2016

As part of Infrastructure Week 2016, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) made available "Mobility 2050: A Vision for Transportation Infrastructure", an in-depth study of the future trends and opportunities influencing how U.S. transportation infrastructure will move people and goods in the year 2050.

The study was produced by a multi-disciplinary team at Northwestern University, including experts in the fields of civil and environmental engineering, economics and sustainability, which reviewed the study’s findings and discussed how to leverage future opportunities, technologies and trends in pursuit of a national and comprehensive plan for U.S. infrastructure. 

The study anchored a symposium at northwestern University at which the keynote address was delivered by U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez and  featured remarks from several national and state transportation thought leaders and policymakers, including, Kennametal CEO Ron De Feo.

De Feo urged the audience to think about what U.S. infrastructure could and should look like in the year 2050. “The objective of the study is not to predict the future, but to frame scenarios and trends that will inform the public and policymakers about what is possible,” said De Feo, who serves as chairman of AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 Task Force. “AEM and its members will use this study to articulate the factors and trends that will shape a national, long-term vision for U.S. infrastructure. There is much to discuss, debate and, most importantly, decide.”

 Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering Dean Julio Ottino also addressed the symposium. “It was a privilege for our faculty to partner with AEM on this study,” said Ottino. “Thinking about the future of our national infrastructure is a critical issue, and one that requires a broad team of experts across many fields.”

The keynote address was delivered by U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez.  

 “Last year, the Department released Beyond Traffic, a report outlining the biggest challenges facing America’s infrastructure over the next three decades, including a population that will grow by 70 million more people,” said Deputy Secretary Mendez. “Close collaboration between the public and private sectors, like the partnership with AEM and Northwestern University will play an important role in determining how we move people and freight better in the future, and support the American economy.”

Included in the 168 report are forward-looking opinions about topics such as Information and Communication Technologies and Transportation by Fabian Bustamante, Northwestern University; Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Transportation Infrastructure by Mike Hewitt, Loyola University; Technological Innovation and the Future of Urban Personal Travel by Hani Mahmassani, Northwestern University; and The Evolution of Retail Through Omni-Channel Retailing by Sunil Chopra, Northwestern University.


AEM has partnered with HeroX to sponsor thought leadership initiatives focused on crafting a vision for a long-term, national plan for U.S. infrastructure and how we will move people, freight, and energy in the future.

 The Infrastructure Vision 2050 initiative features a crowdsourced, incentivized competition to generate new ideas about U.S. infrastructure from a grassroots community of problem-solvers. Total prize amount is $150,000.

To learn more about the competition, click here. Winners of the crowdsourced competition will be announced at AEM’s flagship trade show, CONEXPO-CON/AGG, in March 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.