In an evolutionary scene, we engineers hunt with a pencil. We consulting engineers are the storehouse of designs, concepts, ideas, computing models, formulas, data, and some theories, and many approximations of the physical world as it was, which we pull off the shelf, add a bit of site specific data, adjust the model, turn the crank three times to the left, flick the accumulator switch, once to the right, put in a bit more data, or take some out, turn the crank a few more times, and come up with an answer (If you are old enough to remember the Curta Calculator). The final step is to communicate the answer to the client. Before this can happen, we must know what we are hunting for, and where to find it.
We had better know the answer in a general way at least, or what data we will need and where to get it before we take on the project. If it is reclamation, we had better know the cause of the original failure, and how to avoid it, or if we are dealing with time and wear, what the clients current and expectations are.
Traffic loads are increasing, not only in volume, but the governments have and are increasing legal loads. This has a tremendous impact on the cost of roads, at public expense. These legal loads come onto private property, and pavements must be thicker to support them. The equipment that loads and unloads them is large, more heavy pavements. The building that house them are large, heavier loads. Buildings in general are large, heavier, and the clients are only looking at dollars in most decisions now.
It has become a much more difficult struggle to operate a small firm. The specialization has made it difficult to find suitable replacement personnel. Burnout of senior people, myself in particular, is the issue.