THE PAST HALF CENTURY
—AND A LOOK FORWARD
SUMMARY OF A FORUM
Prepared by Steve Olson
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street NW Washington, DC 20001
NOTICE: The subject of this report is the forum titled Celebrating the NAE’s 50th Anniversary: The History of Engineering over the Past 50 Years and a Look Forward, held during the 2014 Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Engineering.
Opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the forum participants and not necessarily the views of the National Academy of Engineering.
International Standard Book Number 13: 978-0-309-36901-5
International Standard Book Number 10: 0-309-36901-0
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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At its annual meeting on September 28–29, 2014, the National Academy of Engineering celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding. It was a festive two days, highlighted by talks from Eric Schmidt, chair of Google; Frances Arnold, distinguished professor at Caltech; and Sally Jewell, secretary of the US Department of the Interior; along with greetings from Commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman from the International Space Station. The winning videos from the “Engineering for You” contest ran throughout the meeting in the west court of the Academy’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Every attendee at the meeting received a copy of the anniversary essay book Making a World of Difference: Engineering Ideas into Reality. The meeting was a stimulating, illuminating, and fun commemoration of the benefits engineering has provided to people and society over the past half century.
Every recent annual meeting of the NAE has featured a forum of distinguished speakers who address a topic of vital interest to the profession, and this forum was one of the best yet. Seven presenters, moderated by Ali Velshi of Al Jazeera America, considered the achievements of the last 50 years and looked toward the potential achievements of the next 50. The speakers were
- Wanda M. Austin, president and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation and a member of the NAE Council;
- Corale L. Brierley, a founder of Brierley Consultancy and vice president of the National Academy of Engineering;
- Leonard Kleinrock, professor of computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a developer of ARPANET;
- Robert W. Lucky, retired vice president of research at Telcordia Technologies, Inc., and previously a vice president at Bellcore;
- Arunava Majumdar, Jay Precourt Professor at Stanford University, founding director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, and a member of the NAE Council;
- Roderic I. Pettigrew, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and acting chief officer for scientific workforce diversity for the National Institutes of Health; and
- Robert E. Schafrik, retired general manager of the Materials and Process Engineering Department of General Electric Aviation.
As the speakers make clear in the following summary of their remarks, engineering is poised to make an even greater contribution to society in the next half century than it has made in the past half century. I am inspired by the important time that lies ahead for engineering. Our future, just like our past, will be delivered in great measure by engineering.
C. D. Mote, Jr.
National Academy of Engineering