What Do You Mean by That?

by Paul Tarricone, Assoc.Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 4, Pg. 60-62

Document Type: Feature article


The engineering and construction profession, like any other, has its own buzzwords and jargon. But as terms become ingrained in the profession's lexicon, they take on different shades of meaning. As years pass, people may have only a vague sense of the significance of a term to the different players in a project (i.e., owner, designer and contractor). What's more alarming, the casual use of a phrase can turn an important concept into mere cliche. Civil Engineering has come up with a list of six often-heard terms—some trendy, some traditional—that are open to different interpretations. The terms are total quality management; value engineering; partnering; fast track; design-build and privatization. We polled 13 professionals from the private, public and academic arenas, representing the design, construction and legal sectors of the industry, and asked them for a definition, critique and insights into these concepts. The panel's different perceptions of certain terms reflects their perspective as owner, designer or contractor.

Subject Headings: Value engineering | Engineering profession | Owners | Contractors and subcontractors | Quality control | Design/Build | Privatization | Private sector

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