golf clubs and fishing rods. This practice contrasts with that of the United States, where advanced technologies are frequently applied to complex products in the defense industry. A second aspect of Japanese practices in commercializing new technologies is their attention to incremental changes and improvements in product and process. Karatsu concludes by stressing the importance of technological cooperation so that standards of living can be improved worldwide.
The papers in this volume reflect a diversity of national perspectives on the impact of cutting-edge technologies on the individual, industry, and society; appropriate means for harnessing technology to facilitate economic growth for all nations; and the roles that should be played by institutions and governments in the emerging global economy. Nevertheless, agreement on several key issues is apparent: First, technology will continue to fuel economic growth and rising standards of living around the world. Indeed, technology’s influence is pervasive, for it shapes trade patterns and policies, employment, and even relations among nations. A second area of consensus centers on the important role to be played by the engineering community in facilitating international technological advancement. As mentioned by Stephen Bechtel in his introduction of the keynote speaker at the convocation, “…we (engineers and technologists) can only benefit by being more attuned to the factors that influence each country’s technological interests and capacities.” Although this process is frequently constrained by national competitiveness concerns, Bechtel asserts that it is only through increased cooperation that nations remain competitive. “A nation’s strength as a participant in the world economy is derived in part from its ability to adjust to rapidly fluctuating economic conditions and technological change. Cooperation provides access to regional and national trends in technology, thereby benefiting individual nations as well as the international engineering endeavor.” Indeed, industrial competition can be a source of creative tension for the world economy when viewed within the larger global framework of cooperation directed at improving the quality of life for all.