nology. In reviewing these enduring attributes for engineers, we also identify the essential characteristics that connect engineering’s past, present, and future. As with any profession, we also recognize the imperative to remain flexible and to embrace necessary changes that allow for constant success. These new-century reflections on engineers in 2020 are outlined below.

The word engineer has its roots in the Latin word ingeniator, which means ingenious, to devise in the sense of construct, or craftsmanship. Several other words are related to ingeniator, including ingenuity.

Engineers in 2020, like engineers of yesterday and today, will possess strong analytical skills. At its core, engineering employs principles of science, mathematics, and domains of discovery and design to a particular challenge and for a practical purpose. This will not change as we move forward. It has been stated in earlier sections that the core knowledge base on which engineers develop products and services may shift as technologies involving the life sciences, nanoscience, optical science, materials science, and complex systems become more prevalent. Also, information and communications technologies will be ubiquitous—embedded into virtually every structure and process and vital to the success and usefulness of all engineered products. Just as important will be the imperative to expand the engineering design space such that the impacts of social systems and their associated constraints are afforded as much attention as economic, legal, and political constraints (e.g., resource management, standards, accountability requirements). Engineers will also concentrate on systemic outcomes in the same ways that focused outcomes are considered. Even though the scientific knowledge that defines operating principles is expected to be more fluid and more complex, the core analysis activities of engineering design—establishing structure, planning, evaluating performance, and aligning outcomes to a desired objective—will continue.

Engineers in 2020 will exhibit practical ingenuity. The word engineering derives from ingeniator (Johnston et al., 2000). Yesterday, today, and forever, engineering will be synonymous with ingenuity—skill in planning, combining, and adapting. Using science and practical

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement