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In engineering, macro-engineering (alternatively known as macroengineering or macro engineering and as mega engineering) is the implementation of extremely large-scale design projects. It can be seen as a branch of civil engineering or structural engineering but just on a very large land area. In particular, macro-engineering is the process of marshaling and managing of resources, technology and public opinion on a large scale to carry out complex tasks that last over a long period.

In contrast to conventional engineering projects, macro-engineering projects (called macro-projects or mega-projects) are multidisciplinary, involving collaboration from all fields of study; they involve not only engineers, but scientists, lawyers, industrialists, soldiers and politicians as well. Macro-projects are usually international; they override political boundaries because most countries lack the social, financial or physical ability to undertake them alone. As a consequence, macro-projects have the power to fundamentally transform its area of focus.

Macro-engineering is an evolving field that is only recently receiving attention. Because we routinely deal with challenges that are multinational in scope, such as global warming and pollution, macro-engineering is emerging as a transcendent solution to worldwide problems. Macro-engineering, or mega-engineering, is distinct from megascale engineering which deals with projects on a planetary or stellar scale. Where macro-engineering is currently practical, mega-scale engineering is still within the domain of speculative fiction.

Past macro-projects include the construction of the Panama Canal and Suez Canal, the Channel Tunnel and the planned Gibraltar Tunnel, the construction of cross-country oil pipelines, and most recently, a multinational effort to standardize satellite communication.

Two intellectual centers focused on macro-engineering theory and practice are the Candida Oancea Institute in Bucharest, Romania, and The Center for Macro Projects and Diplomacy at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, United States.

  • Frank P. Davidson and Kathleen Lusk Brooke, BUILDING THE WORLD: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE GREAT ENGINEERING PROJECTS IN HISTORY, two volumes (Greenwood Publishing Group, Oxford UK, 2006)
  • V. Badescu, R.B. Cathcart and R.D. Schuiling, MACRO-ENGINEERING: A CHALLENGE FOR THE FUTURE (Springer, The Netherlands, 2006)
  • R.B. Cathcart, V. Badescu with Ramesh Radhakrishnan, (2006): Macro-Engineers' Dreams PDF, 175pp. Accessed 24 May 2013
  • Alexander Bolonkin and Richard B. Cathcart, Macro-Projects (NOVA Publishing, 2009)
  • Viorel Badescu and R.B. Cathcart, Macro-engineering Seawater (Springer, 2010), 880 pages.


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