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Making a World of Difference: Engineering Ideas Into Reality

Mote_Headshot_09-2014Last week saw the kickoff to ExxonMobil’s Be an Engineer initiative to encourage young people to consider careers in engineering. As I wrote at the time, one of our aims with the campaign is to highlight the meaningful contributions that engineers make to the world. Nobody is more qualified to speak to those contributions than Dan Mote, president of the National Academy of Engineering. I have asked Dan to offer a few thoughts on what engineers and engineering mean to the world. ~Ken


As ExxonMobil launches its Be an Engineer campaign, the National Academy of Engineering is pleased to reach a milestone of its own.  Just 50 years ago in December 1964 the NAE was created. Since that time it has been a keen promoter of the engineering profession and an observer of the prodigious changes wrought in people’s lives by engineering.

To highlight these changes and bring them to a public audience, the NAE has created a volume of essays to look at engineering over the past half century and to consider how engineering will similarly shape the future.

The essay volume, Making a World of Difference – Engineering Ideas Into Reality, is available as a free pdf at the NAE website.

NAE_50_09-2014Engineering solves problems for people and society. The first three essays present engineering solutions of the past half century, embodied by airplanes and automobiles, information technology and communications, environment and health systems, sustainability and energy sufficiency, computers and space missions, and much more.

The “future” essay touches on the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering, a global vision proposed in 2007, which describes urgently needed engineering solutions for people and the planet.

These challenges include making solar energy economical, engineering better medicines, and providing access to clean water, among others. The essay notes that meeting them will make the planet not only “a more technologically advanced and connected place, but also a more sustainable, safe, healthy, and joyous place—in other words, a better place.”

Over the past 50 years, engineering has transformed our lives every day and it will continue to do so in the future, utilizing new capabilities, creating new applications, and providing ever-expanding services to people.  The essays underscore the depth, breadth, and importance of engineering to human health, wealth, and joy.

Going forward, the nation will need new generations of engineers to continue the amazing engineering achievements that our society depends on.  The NAE applauds ExxonMobil for its efforts to highlight the importance of engineers and engineering to the future of the nation and beyond.


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