Engineering Industry Trends in 2014 – Expert Insights for Engineers from Women Deans
2. Do you believe modern engineers are more important to technological innovation or infrastructure? Why?
They are important to both, because the US infrastructure needs to be modernized.
Dr Barbara Boyan
I don’t think that the contribution of engineers is more important to one area of our economy over another. Their role is so fundamental to how things work, that it is impossible to ascribe value in this way. While technological innovation may not be driven by engineers in all cases, it is engineers that make things work, who can translate an idea into a usable product. My own experience as an inventor is a good example of this. Early in my scientific career, I began to think about how to make materials that would help cartilage defects heal more effectively. I thought that technologies available at that time lacked properties that would encourage cartilage cells to do their job better and one of those properties was a mechanical environment similar to what they would have in real cartilage. I discussed this with a mechanical engineer, Dr. Kyriacos Athanasiou, who told me that he could figure out how to make such a material. Together we began a start-up company that went on to manufacture the innovative implants that we designed. We recognized that patients and surgeons would want the assurance that the implants were made safely and dependably, so that they could rely on the final product to be the same every time. This was most definitely the work of many different kinds of engineers, each responsible for a specific piece of the puzzle. I am very proud to say that the device we first envisioned is now available for use in patients because of the careful work of engineers.
Nada Marie Anid
When analyzing innovation clusters in the U.S., what we see is that “where engineers concentrate, we can expect the greatest capacity for innovation”. This is why the New York Metropolitan Area is seeing an unprecedented boost in technology start-ups and Silicon Alley is catching up with Silicon Valley.
One would argue that technological innovation is becoming an intricate component to our infrastructure leading to novel “cyber-physical systems and networks”, the “internet of things”, smart cars, smart glasses, smart phones, drones, robots –
At New York Institute of Technology, an NCIIA pilot program helps engineering students follow an entrepreneurship path to equip them for success in bringing their ideas to market and a transformative Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center (ETIC) is being created with U.S. Department of Commerce and NY Empire State Development funds to create a vibrant innovation hub.
Dr. Candis Claiborn
That’s a difficult question – modern engineers are equally important to both, and both are equally important to economic well-being and competitiveness.