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Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium (2023)

Chapter: 3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society

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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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3

People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society

The second session of the symposium was about people who have applied engineering principles to some of society’s most challenging problems, in the process bringing far-reaching changes to technology, the economy, and society. In addition to the research accomplishments made possible through NSF support, speakers mentioned NSF’s funding of graduate fellowships, Engineering Research Centers (ERCs), efforts to improve K–12 and undergraduate STEM education, and work at all levels of the education and career trajectories to improve the diversity of engineering. “This session is about people who have applied engineering principles to some of society’s most challenging problems,” said Edward Frank, cofounder and chief executive officer of Brilliant Lime, who moderated the session. “It’s an impressive group of people from some of the great universities in our country, which I personally view as one of the United States’ greatest assets.”

FROM RESEARCH TO REVOLUTION

Pramod Khargonekar, distinguished professor of electrical engineering and computer science and vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Irvine, was the lead-off speaker for the session. He described three examples of fundamental engineering research leading to substantial benefits. Each was the result of what Donald Stokes (1997), in his book Pasteur’s Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation, termed “use-inspired research,” though, as Khargonekar pointed out, the line between pure basic research and use-inspired basic research is in fact a continuous spectrum, with pure basic science research with no interest in application at one end and applied engineering research at the other.

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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The first example he described involves semiconductor chips, a technology that has a long history of NSF research support. Khargonekar identified it as “an absolutely fantastic story of fundamental engineering research to societal impacts.” The story began with the invention of the transistor at Bell Labs in 1947, which resulted in the 1956 Nobel Prize being awarded to William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain. Pioneering work by Jack Kilby in the late 1950s on the first integrated circuits and by Zhores Alferov and Herbert Kroemer on semiconductor heterostructures led to another Nobel Prize, awarded in 2000. Then, in about 1970, development of the first microprocessor initiated a period during which the number of transistors on microchips roughly doubled every two years, from approximately 1,000 transistors to more than 50 billion. This packing of more and more transistors on a single semiconductor chip made “a whole technological revolution possible,” said Khargonekar.

The regular doubling of the number of transistors on a chip, which became known as Moore’s law after engineer Gordon Moore, was made possible through a very large number of innovations in materials, device architecture, design, manufacturing, and relevant fields of science and engineering, Khargonekar explained. “It’s an astonishing achievement of engineering driven by fundamental research.” But the research did not necessarily precede the innovations. As Moore (1996) once said, “the technology led the science in a sort of inverse linear model.” Or, as Khargonekar observed, “Moore’s law was a vision that led to major fundamental advances because we wanted to follow that vision.”

The second example he described involves the origins of Google. In 1994 NSF launched a program called the Digital Library Initiative with the ambitious goal of making all human knowledge in libraries digitally available. One of the projects funded by the program supported Sergey Brin and Larry Page when they were graduate students at Stanford University. In 1999 the two were among the authors of a paper called “The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web” (Page et al., 1999). As stated in the abstract, “This paper describes PageRank, a method for rating Web pages objectively and mechanically, effectively measuring the human interest and attention devoted to them.” The principle marked the beginning of Google, which is now one of the largest companies in the world but just one example of major companies in broadband communications, personal computing, enterprise systems, internet design, and other digital technologies based on semiconductors, digital communications, and computer science that have changed the world.

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

Khargonekar’s third example was 3D printing. In the 1980s University of Texas student Carl Deckard and his advisor Joe Beaman, with support from NSF, developed and patented a type of additive printing that they called selective laser sintering, which was able to make three-dimensional objects from drawings. This technology in turn drew on earlier research funded by NSF on additive manufacturing, the geometric modeling of mechanical parts and processes, and other topics. According to one projection, 3D printing will have a $500 billion impact by 2025 across a wide range of industries. In particular, Khargonekar cited applications in biomedicine, where 3D printing is being used to make dental implants, tissue constructs, pharmaceuticals, and many other biomedical devices.

“What’s the lesson in all this?” Khargonekar asked. One is that history offers numerous examples of paths connecting fundamental research to innovation to technological revolution, which is nonlinear, iterative, and interconnected. An aspirational goal for the engineering community is therefore “how do we get better at this, because we need it badly.” NSF has been a leader in trying to optimize this process through such mechanism as its I-Corps program and value creation efforts, said Khargonekar. “These are pieces of a larger puzzle.”

In response to a question about how best to inform the general public about these and other advances, Khargonekar noted that “the positive benefits from engineering and technology are so enormous that people take them for granted. Consequently, whenever we as researchers are doing anything, we need to be talking about our motivations.” Engineers need to talk about the human aspect of what they do, not just the technological aspects, so that people can better understand the broader ecosystem of which engineers are a part. “We get to readily focus on a narrow slice of what we are comfortable talking about, but they really want to know about the big picture as to how this whole thing comes together.” He also pointed to the existence of a science of science communication, which has studied the best ways to communicate with the public. “Alan Alda is a big champion” of this, he said. “Maybe every master’s student should get a capsule course in communicating science to the public, because there’s a lot to be learned systematically about how to do it.”

Khargonekar also responded to a question about the best ways to mentor students. He cited his PhD mentor, R.E. Kalman, developer of the Kalman filter, which has had an “enormous impact” on a variety of technological systems. Kalman “challenged us and inspired

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

us,” said Khargonekar. He also gave his students the freedom to explore, which is the approach Khargonekar has taken with his students. “I want you to go to your heart—what do you really want to do—and bring your creativity and your mind and heart together, and I’m here to make it possible.”

Finally, Khargonekar noted that his own work on control systems theory, reconfigurable manufacturing systems, renewable energy, smart grids, machine learning, and other areas has been supported by NSF, and he received an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award early in his career. “NSF has been the foundation of my research career from the very beginning.”

THE CARBON QUEEN

In her 2022 book Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus, Maia Weinstock, deputy editorial director of MIT News, writes about “a brilliant materials scientist and engineer who earned the nickname queen of carbon for her highly influential discoveries relating to the properties of carbon, although she’s certainly studied other materials as well, particularly semimetals.” Throughout her nearly 60-year career Dresselhaus was a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, later earning an appointment in the Department of Physics as well. She coauthored nearly 1,700 papers and eight books while raising four children. “So many people have said in discussions of my book that they get overwhelmed hearing about how much she was able to accomplish, and I have to agree, but that’s all the more reason why it’s important to tell her story.” Dresselhaus received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which along with the Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor a civilian can receive in the United States. As President Obama said in presenting her with the medal, her influence is everywhere—in the cars we drive, the energy we generate, and the electronic devices that power our lives.

Mildred Spiewak was born in 1930 in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up primarily in the Bronx. As Weinstock said, “she was a wide-eyed child who had to navigate the trials of living during the Great Depression.” The daughter of immigrants who sometimes struggled to put food on the table, she later said that one of the hardest things she had to do in life was overcome her childhood. Her elementary and middle schools lacked the strong academic structure that would lead to careers in science and engineering, but she earned a scholar-

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

ship to study violin at a music school in Manhattan, and the people she met there revealed to her opportunities that would enable her to rise from her impoverished background. Acing the entrance exam, she was accepted into Hunter College High School in Manhattan, where she began to earn enough money to become independent through tutoring—“a bit of a preview of her teaching skills later as a professor,” said Weinstock.

As a student she had two great mentors. One was Rosalyn Yalow, who was her physics professor at Hunter College in New York and later would win a Nobel Prize in Medicine. Yalow all but insisted that her student change her plan of becoming a teacher and pursue research, and the two remained close for decades. Her other mentor was the physicist Enrico Fermi, whom she met while she was a PhD student at the University of Chicago. The two would talk on the way to class; from Fermi she learned the importance of having a broad foundation in one’s chosen field and how to change direction when necessary.

In 1958 she married Gene Dresselhaus, a theoretical solid state physicist who also became one of her closest professional collaborators. Her PhD thesis was on superconducting materials, and at its completion she received an NSF-sponsored fellowship to pursue postdoctoral research on the topic. However, when she and her husband got jobs at MIT’s Lincoln Lab in 1960, her supervisor told her that she should work on something else. She then began what would become her life’s work, investigating the fundamental properties of various configurations, or allotropes, of carbon atoms, including graphite. Her colleagues did not think that anything special would come of this research, skepticism that Dresselhaus took as a challenge. “She was also happy to have carbon mostly to herself,” said Weinstock, because “it allowed her the opportunity to have potentially an outsized influence on the development of the field, and also let her focus on the raising of four kids.”

She began her study of carbon by looking at the layered structure of graphite, which has strong in-plane bonds and weak between-plane bonds, “which makes it easy to leave some carbon on paper anytime you are writing with a pencil.” She then began investigating graphite intercalation compounds, which are layers of carbon mixed with other elements. These investigations led to new and important insights into the electronic structure of graphite and carbon generally, which laid the groundwork for much new science and engineering, including such modern devices as flexible electronic screens and modern quantum computers.

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

In 1967 she joined the MIT faculty, at first as a visiting professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and, within a year, as a full professor with tenure. She was the first woman on the electrical engineering faculty and one of very few women on the MIT faculty in general. She became known not only for her research on carbon and other semimetals but also for her pedagogical advances in engineering education. For example, she helped to teach solid state physics in a way that emphasized the various roles that engineering could play in applications. She was also known as a professor who cared deeply for her students. “She made learning interactive and almost familial, similar to how she was treated by her mentor Enrico Fermi.”

In addition, she was a forceful advocate for women. Women students had occasionally been accepted at MIT since the late 1800s, much earlier than many colleges and universities accepted women, but in the 1960s MIT was still grappling with how women should be included as students, faculty, and administrators. Dresselhaus worked to develop a women’s forum that advocated on behalf of women across the institute, and she helped improve admissions criteria that previously had made it difficult for women applicants to be accepted. She developed a new introductory engineering course, which she cotaught with MIT aerospace engineer Sheila Widnall, that provided basic background to women, students of color, and others at MIT who had not benefited from family members with experience in engineering.

Though she never won a Nobel Prize, her work—supported in part by 20 different NSF funding awards—was connected to several that were awarded to others. It was instrumental in the discovery of buckyballs: configurations of 60 carbon atoms in a soccer ball–like configuration. She became expert on carbon fibers and carbon nanotubes, which have had engineering applications ranging from sporting equipment to batteries to cancer therapies to gas toxin sensors—the list “could go on for a long time,” said Weinstock.

Later in her career she returned to the study of graphene, which contributed to a dramatic surge in articles related to the topic, and she was invited as a guest to the Nobel Prize ceremony in which the team that isolated graphene was honored.

In 1974 Dresselhaus was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for her contributions to the experimental studies of metals and semimetals and to education—only the third woman to be elected, after Lillian Gilbreth and Grace Hopper. She also served as a volunteer for many scientific and engineering organizations and as president of the

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2000 she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to head the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

She continued to work on diversifying the scientific and engineering workforce—for example, she spearheaded an effort with the American Physical Society that continues today to review physics departments around the country to help ensure best practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Millie was a strong supporter of underrepresented students and researchers, and she did quite a lot to make engineering and science more diverse and her influence was global.” She mentored students and young researchers who went on to have their own prominent positions in the research enterprise, such as Shirley Ann Jackson. She earned many honorary degrees from institutions around the world and other awards for her research and her service to engineering and the world, including the National Medal of Science and the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience.

“I met Millie just one time, and it was a wonderful experience,” said Weinstock. “One of my side hobbies is creating custom LEGO minifigures of actual scientists and engineers as a way of promoting them and putting them on social media and getting people to talk about science and engineering as something that everyday people do. When I got to MIT, I immediately knew that I had to make one of Millie. So I emailed her one day, and within an hour she emailed me back…. I was a bit starstruck, but she invited me to come down and bring the minifigure, and we talked about women in science and being from New York. Obviously, I’ll never forget that day.”

THE INFRASTRUCTURE BEHIND SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING ADVANCES

“Sometimes the big impacts come from the investments that are made behind the scenes,” said Albert Pisano, dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), adding that NSF has long supported large infrastructure projects that make many scientific and engineering advances possible. Pisano focused on a particular example: large-scale shake tables.

“Many people take earthquake safety for granted,” he said, “but you have no idea how much in the way of compositional models has to be developed to try to figure out how a building or bridge or an overpass or a road might react to an earthquake.” Theoretical models must be

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

supported by experiments, and these experiments and models then need to be reflected in building codes. “If you do not go all the way through to working with the state and the federal government and local authorities to see changes in design codes, then the wisdom of how to save people’s lives in an economic and sustainable manner by a better structural design cannot happen.”

For more than 20 years, faculty members at UCSD had been envisioning the construction of a very large shake table facility that would be built near campus and used in an outdoor format to test buildings of virtually unlimited height. The facility evolved over time and in 2018 NSF funded an upgrade that enabled it to incorporate a full six-degrees-of-freedom motion—linear in three directions and rotations in three directions. Today “the United States possesses the largest weight-bearing and the largest height capacity 3D shake table in the world,” said Pisano. “That is one of our secret advantages to having the best earthquake standards on earth.”

The engineering of the shake table was itself a “huge endeavor.” Electric pumps create pressure in large reservoirs, which release the energy created by the 400-horsepower pumps a thousand times faster, generating 400,000 horsepower of shaking force. Carefully engineered pipes enable the use of a special hydraulic fuel that does not absorb air.

Pisano showed several videos of experiments conducted with the shake table.1 The structures involved represent not just critical buildings like hospitals but parking structures, bridges, train stations, and other common but essential aspects of the built environment. “If you’ve ever driven over a bridge, you should be thinking about the ability of that bridge to sustain damage,” he said. The goal of such experiments is not to implement burdensome earthquake codes that could impact the economy. Rather, it is to understand the minimum reinforcing needed to make a building stand up in an earthquake, thereby reducing the weight and cost of a building. Experiments are also designed to reveal the weak points of a structure so that changes to the building code can improve earthquake safety. “A lot of engineering is about getting the details as well as the overall plan right,” he said. “Earthquake testing is where any flaw that exists will come to the surface.”

Such experiments will continue to be essential as the built environment evolves. For example, one response to climate change will be the

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1 Photographs and videos of the shake table are available at https://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/shaketable/.

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

increased use of wood to build structures, since the wood can sequester carbon whereas the production of concrete generates large amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Pisano showed a video of the failure of a wooden building typical of California cities like San Francisco. “We have since worked with the state of California to put together retrofit rules so that, without putting people out of business or making people broke, you can correctly retrofit the building in just the right way so that you do not get that catastrophic collapse.”

Investments in infrastructure like shake tables are essential if people are to survive disasters, Pisano concluded. “These things have a direct impact on saving lives and making our society more resilient.”

SOCIETAL IMPACTS OF TISSUE ENGINEERING

Gilda Barabino, president and professor of biomedical and chemical engineering at Olin College of Engineering, was introduced to the idea of a wavy-walled reactor by a colleague when she was working at Northeastern University. A group of mechanical engineers had been characterizing the hydrodynamics of vessels with various geometries, one of which involved vessels with wavy walls. In essence, the wavy-walled vessels mimicked a cylindrical vessel outfitted with baffles, long plates attached to the interior walls of reactors to enhance mixing. The introduction of smooth waves into the walls produced instabilities that increase mixing while minimizing shear.

“To my mechanical engineering colleagues, the wavy-walled reactor provided an interesting model to visualize and characterize flow,” she recounted. “To me, the wavy-walled reactor provided a novel reactor for the enhanced cultivation of mammalian cells in an environment that increased the mixing and uniform distribution of nutrients while minimizing shear that could damage cells.” She therefore set about translating the open-top contraction used for flow characterization to a sterilizable bioreactor that could support cell cultivation.

The first studies with wavy-walled reactors were done in collaboration with industry to explore ways of enhancing the production of proteins using microcarrier cultures. About this time, Barabino received an award under the NSF Visiting Professorship for Women in Science and Engineering program to study the cultivation of cell polymer tissue constructs in novel bioreactors. The program allows experienced investigators to undertake advanced research and teaching at host institutions where they can provide guidance and encouragement to other women.

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

Her host institution was MIT, and her host was Bob Langer, one of the fathers of tissue engineering.

Her subsequent work at Georgia Tech was again funded by an NSF grant to develop novel models for growth of engineered cartilage. Cartilage damage is a persistent challenge to orthopedic medicine, and cartilage disorders are expected to double by 2040. Cartilage’s lack of ability to self-repair complicates treatment strategies, and limitations with existing treatment strategies have been a major reason why alternatives in tissue engineering are being pursued. Treatments being investigated include stimulation to induce regeneration from cells in the bone marrow, transplantation of cell and tissue grafts, implantation of constructs produced from patient cells, and matrix-assisted implants. The wavy-walled bioreactor created novel flow environments that can incorporate various chemical and mechanical cues to support the growth of engineered constructs. This system “has formed the basis of models that were useful for the development of clinically relevant engineered tissues,” said Barabino.

This work has involved extensive collaboration across disciplines and has included clinicians, orthopedic surgeons, and industry practitioners, and its potential impact is immense. “I’m sure everyone knows someone—and maybe even themselves—who has had problems with knee injuries. The goal to have a healthy population that constantly has mobility is definitely worthwhile.”

This work has also had a major impact on the academic training, career development, and career trajectories of the people who have engaged in it. As an example, Barabino cited an NSF-funded project called the Cross-Disciplinary Initiative for Minority Women Faculty. She and Cheryl Leggon used their involvement in this program to understand and enhance the careers of women of color in academic engineering and to help change the African American experience in engineering.2 Communalism, community building, networking, creating a sense of belonging, and collecting and analyzing longitudinal data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and gender all proved to be critical in understanding career trajectories and moving forward. “Too often, racialized and gendered structural constructs that shape how we view and experience organizational environments remain invisible and missing from our dis-

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2 This effort is described in “Socializing African American Female Engineers into Academic Careers: The Case of the Cross-Disciplinary Initiative for Minority Women Faculty” (Leggon and Barabino, 2015).

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

course. With our cross-disciplinary initiative, we provided opportunities for our cohort to reflect, raise consciousness, share experiences, and be empowered to tell their own stories.”

Barabino cited another NSF project that funded workshops to support the professional development of minority faculty members. The workshops grew out of a series of meetings of chemical engineering faculty of color at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. “In one of our evenings at the annual meeting, we said, ‘You know, this would be nice if we did it in a broader, stronger way that reached more people.’ So we approached NSF, explained our concept about broadening the support network and networking for faculty of color in engineering, and were funded for what became a series of workshops…that reached faculty of color in all engineering disciplines across the country for a number of years. This work is still ongoing.”

Finally, she mentioned an engineering deans forum on broadening participation, which grew out of discussions among a group of engineering deans who are also members of the Directorate for Engineering Advisory Committee about how to share best practices, network, and build partnerships around broadening participation. “We recognized the unique and special positioning of deans and their ability to provide leadership and create cultural shifts.”

Women of color are also underrepresented among entrepreneurs, an observation that led to an NSF-funded project, the Forum on Inclusive STEMM Entrepreneurship, designed to elevate the national conversation around broadening participation of underrepresented groups, and particularly women of color, in entrepreneurship. Experts in the academic, industrial, investor, and entrepreneurial communities came together to create a blueprint of how to foster more inclusion in this space. Additional recent activities include support for undergraduate students and workshops on ways to increase the success of women and people from underrepresented groups in areas related to interdisciplinarity, intersectionality, and convergence.

“Attracting and retaining people in historically excluded groups requires relevance to everyday life and clear avenues to improve everyday life,” Barabino said. “It has been shown over and over that those who are from historically marginalized groups, and especially women, often are drawn to fields, applications, and problems that have impacted them in their communities. And if we engage people in solutions to problems that impact their everyday lives and their communities, and we partner together to do that, that’s a winning combination.”

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

COMMERCIALIZING CARBON NANOTUBES

When Baratunde Cola, professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, was an undergraduate football player at Vanderbilt University, a summer undergraduate research supplement introduced him to nanoscale carbon. At the time, he was working on heat transfer in materials, which depends on the thermal conductivity and thermal resistance of those materials. This work helped lead to the discovery that thermal resistance was the critical limit to performance—“and that’s important because it defined my entire career,” said Cola.

After majoring in mechanical engineering and mathematics as an undergraduate, he went to graduate school at Purdue University and continued his work on heat transfer, focusing on carbon nanotubes as thermal interface materials. Carbon nanotubes can be grown on the surface of a material and are excellent conductors of heat because they make good contact with the material. But research revealed that the nanotubes can be deformed—“they undulate and fold like springs”—which led to more extensive study of their mechanical contact at surfaces. Cola and his colleagues discovered that the nanotubes do not connect to a material at their tips but rather along a line where they lie on the material’s surface. This turned a fundamental problem in microelectronics of how to get heat out of a semiconductor chip into an understanding of the mechanics of the contact between the nanotube and the material.

This research program is also a story about technology transfer, said Cola. After starting as a professor at Georgia Tech in 2009, he was part of a team working on a DARPA grant into nano thermal interface materials, which remains a key issue in many defense technologies. If a carbon nanotube transfers heat like a cylinder sitting on a plane, “you want to pack some putty or something soft and conformable to expand the width of the line content.” He and his research group approached this problem through conformal polymer coatings. In 2011 he founded Carbice Corporation to commercialize the technology, in part through a program called the Georgia Research Alliance, which gave faculty members small grants to explore commercialization. The grant allowed the researchers “to start looking at how to scale this and what applications would work well in industry, because you have ideas as a researcher but until you take your ideas and engage with industry, you don’t really find solutions.” The group devised a way to grow carbon nanotubes vertically on both sides of a material on a large scale, which “enabled a lot of

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

things.” Further support from an SBIR grant, the Air Force, the Army, and NSF enabled them to further scale up the process.

“The science part kept feeding from the lab into the business, because we demonstrated the coating approach. But [there are] fundamental differences between coding a nanotube with a polymer that has a high hardness versus a polymer that is soft and malleable and wet.” Mastering this process led to such products as polymer coatings that meet NASA requirements and a material used in semiconductor testing that can undergo millions of tests without losing performance.

The creation of Carbice “touched so many people, directly through my lab but also supporters and other people,” said Cola. A facility in Atlanta is now “the largest production facility of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes in the world that go into real applications—satellites, power modules for electric vehicles—and it started with a 21 year old, with a thick neck and a mustache, doing undergraduate research at Vanderbilt.”

Cola’s achievements led to his receiving the Alan T. Waterman Award in 2017, which recognizes outstanding researchers age 35 and under in NSF-supported fields of science and engineering. When asked by the moderator about the sources of his success, Cola said “I take hard criticism very well.” The grant denials and review process in high-impact journals prepared him for the rigors of private enterprise, though he has not found feedback in the private sector to be nearly as harsh as in academia. Being able to take criticism “allows you to learn fast and respond fast. And that’s key in raising money, because you can present to somebody in the morning and learn something and need to change your presentation in the afternoon.”

NSF’S INVESTMENTS IN THE EARLY INTERNET

In the mid-1980s NSF funded the original supercomputer centers, a pivotal moment in the development of the internet, recounted Susan Estrada, founder of CERFnet. At the University of California, San Diego, the San Diego Supercomputer Center established SDSCnet, which featured remote user access centers spread across the United States. Each center had 56-kilobit per second local landline connections, which, Estrada said, led one vendor to remark, “no one has that much data.”

In 1986 a proposal was written for a Southern California regional network that came to be called CERFnet. It had a “screaming fast”

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

1.5-megabit/second backbone,3 recalled Estrada, which caused some of the universities to ask, “what would we do with that much capacity?” Thirty-three academic institutions were connected along with two commercial users, SAIC and Northrop Corporation. “We were always commercially focused because we came from the San Diego Supercomputer Center, which allowed commercial use of the supercomputer center to augment the funding from the National Science Foundation,” said Estrada. That year, the core team of CERFnet—Estrada, Susie Arnold, and Karen Armstrong—was part of a dedication party with Vint Cerf that featured the breaking of a champagne bottle filled with confetti.

By the next year, regional networks were scattered around the country, most of them funded by NSF. By CERFnet’s second anniversary, its network had grown from 30 to more than 100 members. A new mail gateway provided internet access to K–12 teachers. In 1991 CERFnet joined with PSInet and UUnet to form the Commercial Internet Exchange, which interconnected the networks for commercial internet service. “We decided to provide neutral connectivity among cooperating carriers, with no restrictions on the type of traffic allowed and no settlements, which was a big deal because settlements were the basis of all telephone services at the time. Most telephone companies believed that you got paid more if you had more volume, but we decided we didn’t want to do that because it became a whole level of tracking that we didn’t want to be bothered with.” This model is still in place for many internet providers, Estrada noted.

By 1993 the network was financially self-sufficient, it provided 24–7 support, and it had added a range of services, including connections to K–12 classrooms, “which was a teacher’s first introduction to utilizing the internet.” In California, San Diego was still the hub for many connections, but the internet was undergoing “unbelievable growth.” Today, it is “an amazing thing to have the world in your pocket,” Estrada concluded.

In response to a question from the moderator, Estrada noted that in the early days of the internet many different communication protocols existed, but a program director at NSF named Dennis Jennings decided that the new networks being developed should all use the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/Internet Protocol (IP), though the idea

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3 As of 2022, the fastest network backbone link is capable of delivering speeds of 400–1000 gigabits/second (ESnet, 2022), so nearly 300–700 thousand times faster.

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

of enforcing use of a single protocol “was scandalous at the time.” But today, TCP/IP remains the backbone of the internet. Other important developments, said Estrada, were the work of the Internet Engineering Task Force, which has grown from a small standards body to a massive organization, and the establishment of the Domain Name System, which resulted, among other things, in the familiar three-letter codes at the end of internet addresses.

TARGETING CANCER CELLS WITH NANOPARTICLES

Paula Hammond’s interest during high school in making new material systems led her to attend MIT as an undergraduate, which gave her “an opportunity to learn how I can apply basic principles of chemical engineering to design new things.” She stayed at the school for her PhD and became a faculty member there, with a focus on using polymers as a means of generating new material systems. Some of her earliest funding was from NSF on the use of polyelectrolytes of opposite charge to build thin films. Later she began to investigate how these materials assemble in solution and how synthetic polypeptides could be used to carry drugs.

As an example, she cited her lab’s work on cancer therapies. She and her colleagues began with nanoparticles that had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, such as liposomes, and sought to incorporate a chemotherapy drug inside that core. They then designed the nanoparticle so that it was able to carry a second drug. Using positively and negatively charged material adsorbed onto a particle’s surface, they were able to create a particle that can not only contain and deliver drugs but guide the nanoparticle to specific targets. For example, they have developed nanoparticles that target lung, breast, and ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer was a particular challenge because it has subtle symptoms that can go unnoticed until it is in its late stages, and many people who are treated later experience recurrences. “Because this is a very difficult and resistant form [of cancer], it would be wonderful if we could train the immune system to recognize these tumor lesions before they even begin to grow,” Hammond said. By creating a library of different kinds of nanoparticles with positively and negatively charged outer layers, she and her colleagues found three formulations that have a very high affinity for ovarian cancer cells but a very low affinity for other cells. The outer “stealth” layer of these can steer the nanoparticles to the parts of tumorous cells where they can have the greatest effect. This

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

approach can yield multiple drugs that help overcome resistance while providing targeted therapies.

Much of Hammond’s work on the fundamental principles of polymer science and self-assembly has been funded by NSF, and this work in turn led to funding by the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense to pursue more applied areas of research. The result, Hammond said, has been not only new knowledge but the training of young researchers who have gone on to make their own advances. “I’ve had so many brilliant and amazing people in the lab,” she said. “What’s really exciting is being able to see them evolve and develop their own ideas.” Hammond has participated annually in the MIT summer research program that hosts undergraduates for summer projects, taken part in a Meridian Institute effort to understand technological needs in Kenya and Ghana, chaired an institutewide MIT Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity, and served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and on the Science Advisory Board of Moderna.

COMMUNICATING THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF ENGINEERING TO THE PUBLIC

At the conclusion of the session’s talks, presenters came together for a roundtable discussion. They were joined by Sarah Rajala—former dean of the Iowa State University College of Engineering and former member of the Directorate for Engineering’s Advisory Committee—who cited the many ways her career has intersected with NSF. These include cofounding and later directing the Industry-University Cooperative Research Center for Advanced Computing and Communication, an early IUCRC that produced some of the research underlying such technologies as high-definition television, cell phones, and web-based video conferencing. Rajala later used NSF funding to establish programs aimed at broadening participation in engineering education and creating “learning environments that are suited to all types of learners and all types of people from different backgrounds.”

Khargonekar raised the point that engineering is a collection of very diverse fields, each of which has had enormous impact on society. But the fields are quite different, raising the issue of how to talk with the public while maintaining a unified view of what engineering has done for society. In this respect, Pisano emphasized the importance of relevance. “My school has 275 researchers, and I could pick any one of over 500 projects to talk about. But I only talk about the ones that have a physical

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

instantiation and a direct impact on people. Otherwise, it is too esoteric. This may not be fair [or] optimal, and there may be better ways to do it. But my theory is, if the common person doesn’t understand why this is good, then you’ll never ever be able to get all the support you want, and you have to do that through relevance.”

Weinstock noted the important shift going on in journalism, from science journalism to STEM journalism. “Just the acronym STEM has helped things along,” she said. In the 1980s and 90s, “when I was growing up, that was not a thing, and people didn’t know what engineering was.” The emphasis on engineering and technology implicit in the acronym STEM has broadened awareness. “Nowadays, science communication has grown to include STEM generally, and kids start learning about what STEM is much earlier. That’s helpful.”

Engineers need training and practice in communicating about their work, Weinstock said. And communication involves not only words but images, videos, and audio. For example, Estrada mentioned CERFnet’s use of comic books to educate people about the early internet.4 “You have to find a way to make it very simple for people to understand a very complex technology. For us, it was the idea of a comic book character.”

COMMERCIALIZING TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS

In response to a question about commercializing the products of research, Khargonekar noted that commercialization can have multiple pathways, not just one. In the software space, for example, commercialization may happen through companies, through open-source software, through the establishment of standards, and in other ways. “We have to look at it sector by sector. I don’t know if there is a single template for transitioning research from the lab or from the university to the real world.”

He also made the point that the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-517) “changed the game completely, because it gave a stake to the university in its intellectual property, and even made it responsible for management of that IP.” Since then, universities have learned a lot about when this approach works well and when it does not. “In 2022, there is a lot we can draw on from four decades of experience as to how to make this system of transition from the university to the real world and collaboration much better.”

___________________

4 The Adventures of Captain Internet and CERF Boy was published in 1991.

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

Rajala focused on the mechanics of technology transfer, asking how the session participants balanced their university responsibilities with the roles and commitments they have with their commercial ventures.

Cola cited two factors involved in promoting technology transfer from research: time and financial stability. When he started as a faculty member, he knew that he wanted to do tech transfer, so he had conversations with his tech transfer office about how he would balance his research and his commercial interests. For five years he built his research group and waited to start his business, and even then he hired someone else to be chief executive officer. “I knew that we needed a lot of IP development, market research, and market development.” Then, when it was time to expand the business, he took a sabbatical. “I got the team going, I hired some people, and then I went back and started teaching.” This included classes that were more related to his business interests, including those with a focus on entrepreneurship. More recently, Cola has worked with the president of Georgia Tech to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem within the school. This has resulted in two new classifications for faculty in the State of Georgia’s university system: a regents’ entrepreneurial faculty member and a regents’ innovators leave of absence, which is longer than the typical leave of absence.

Cola also emphasized the importance of financial stability. When he came to Georgia Tech, he had $70,000 in student loans from Vanderbilt, and starting a company enabled him to establish some economic security. That has allowed him both to stay at Georgia Tech despite offers to take jobs elsewhere and to invest the time needed for academic and commercial endeavors. “Once people understand [engineering] as a pathway to be able to build and innovate and change the world from a somewhat stable position, then it becomes more attractive.”

Estrada noted that commercialization happened to the internet in the 1990s, when phone companies realized that they needed to acquire networks or be left behind. By the end of the 1990s, most of the early networks had been subsumed by commercial companies. But then the research and education communities realized that they did not have access to the high-speed networks they had enjoyed in the past, so these networks were rebuilt. “Now there’s a very active research and education community that in every state has its own research and education network,” she said.

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

IMPROVING RESEARCH FUNDING

When asked how research funding from NSF could be used more productively. Khargonekar observed that many things are being done well—for example, NSF has a gold-standard review process. But a potential improvement would be to give program officers at the agency more leeway to take risks, as has traditionally been done in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Taking risks means that some things will fail, which will require tolerance. “We as a community don’t like to talk about things that don’t work. We only talk about things that work and get published or are successful. But having a culture that allows that to happen more would be a benefit.”

Second, he pointed out that the links between fundamental research, innovation, technology creation, and societal impact are not linear. Rather, they incorporate many feedback loops. “Frankly, we don’t understand the system well. Whatever we can do by way of examining it, exploring it, and then improving the system so that it produces innovations faster, and connects fundamental research to societal benefits more productively, would be enormously helpful.”

Pisano observed that the US science and technology ecosystem is excellent at creating value but not so good at capturing value. “Who’s capturing the value? Is it us? Or is it somebody else? If we think of it a bit differently—ask how you capture the value you created with your research investments—then it’s a case of keeping the research investments strong and varied [while] setting up a scenario where it’s a lot easier for people to take the next step.” At UCSD, for example, faculty members can take up to five years of entrepreneurial leave to capture the value from their research.

Barabino advocated for broadening the definition of what is considered success. “Sometimes we are a bit too narrow about where we think we’re going to find good research or what constitutes a good research question. We need diverse perspectives so we can look at who’s forming the questions. What frameworks are we using? Because who forms a question and what we’re studying dictates a good bit about what you get.”

ANTICIPATING NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES

In response to a question about how engineers can think about and forestall the potentially negative consequences of new technologies, Khargonekar recommended thinking about technology in three stages.

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

The first phase is fundamental research that may give some indications of transitioning into innovative technology. The second is combining the results of research with other knowledge to create the potential for a more powerful impact. The third, which he called “the power stage,” is where a technology becomes so ubiquitous that it is a major part of life and society. At that point, it is too difficult to recall a technology that is changing societal power structures. He therefore encourages people to talk about the possible consequences of a technology in the first or second stages, not when it has become too late. “If you were successful beyond your wildest imagination [and] the whole world adopts what you have done, what will be the consequences? Can you imagine the power stage for your technology? Will that be good or bad? Or what could be potentially wrong? What can we do now to avoid the bad and keep the good?” Anticipating the consequences of new technologies is not easy, but students need to learn how to do it, because they are the ones who are going to be creating the technologies of the future.

As Cola said, the need is for long-term thinking. Such thinking is a skill and can be taught. “Part of it is understanding people’s motives and circumstances to figure out how to motivate them to want to have long-term thinking.” Barabino added that centering impact in education could help focus attention on what should be done.

PROMOTING DIVERSITY IN ENGINEERING

The panel discussed efforts to increase the diversity of the engineering profession, which has made some progress but in many areas has stalled or regressed. According to Barabino, “if we really want to move the needle, we’ve got to move past a lot of programs that are targeted toward individuals and move more toward systemic change.” With the percentage of full professors in engineering who are Black at less than 3 percent, the culture needs to change to increase the representation of those who have been historically marginalized. “You need to get the numbers up for sure. But we also need to move away from just thinking about increasing the numbers of people who are represented to how are they engaged? What is the quality of the engagement? What’s the long-term path?” Underrepresented students and faculty members are being lost at many stages of the educational and career pathways. “A lot of it is that the environments are not supportive enough. The culture needs to shift. We need to look at systemic structural things like a myth of meritocracy or gatekeeping courses.”

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

In this regard, the funding agencies could hold individuals and institutions more accountable, she continued. “Beyond a numbers game, they need to be held to account to show the quality of engagement and long-term investment in the scientific enterprise with a broader group of people.”

Khargonekar noted that the successes of places like Georgia Tech, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, or the University of Texas at El Paso in diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups in engineering are not happening at a national scale. “There are excellent examples of success. But somehow, when you look at the whole nation, we are flatlining. We have to think differently. We have to take more of a systems approach.” He pointed to NSF’s INCLUDES Alliance initiative (which he helped create) as an example of a program that asks questions about inclusion and diversity at the national scale and across the educational and career spectrums. “The answers are not one-off. It has to be a much stronger, systemic approach to this issue.”

Cola pointed again to the need for financial stability to enable underrepresented students and early-career professionals to maintain a direction. “I know too many PhD students and summer undergraduate students that fall off the direction, and I know why, I can relate to that in many ways. I’m an anomaly in my community. I can understand the sacrifices that people have to make to be an anomaly. But everybody can’t be expected to do that.”

Finally, the panelists briefly described what motivated them to pursue engineering, including wanting to build equipment that would not harm workers (Pisano), wanting to apply chemical engineering to improve health (Barabino), being inspired by the Apollo space program (Frank), or realizing the dreams and hopes of a parent (Cola).

Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×

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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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×
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
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Suggested Citation:"3 People Who Brought About Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society: Proceedings of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26847.
×
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On August 18-19, 2022, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) held a symposium to explore how support of fundamental engineering and engineering education research by the National Science Foundation (NSF) has led to positive societal and economic impacts. The symposium - which was sponsored by the NSF Directorate for Engineering - was held to provide input to the NAE Committee on Extraordinary Engineering Impacts on Society as part of a larger effort to develop clear, compelling narratives for the public about the sources and effects of engineering innovations. Speakers at the symposium shared their personal stories and provided insights on how engineers influence not only technology and the national infrastructure but the economy, population health, manufacturing, disaster resilience, and many other aspects of daily life. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussion of the symposium.

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