In the United States, National Engineers Week is always the week in February which encompasses George Washington’s actual birthday, February 22. It is observed by more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. ~Wikipedia
When I graduated in 2005 with a Ph.D. in Engineering I did what many of us did at the time: flew to New York City to interview for Quant jobs. That is what was cool and sexy. Financial engineering, not engineering, was all the rage. How times have changed — for the better IMHO.
Today engineering students dream of designing life-saving devices, connecting the world with new transportation systems and innovating to lift people out of poverty. This did not happen simply because the “fashion of the week” changed. This happened because core innovation in telecommunication systems (Apple launched the iPhone in 2007), the IoT revolution (a term coined by Peter T. Lewis in a 1985 speech given at a U.S. Federal Communications Commission) is becoming a reality, sensors and MEMS are small and affordable to allow for the development of driverless cars, etc.
In honor of National Engineers Week, I want to share three stories of engineers pursing their dreams. A dream of making life better for people with chronic kidney disease, a dream of providing clean electricity for developing countries and a dream of creating a revolutionary, energy-efficient mode of transportation.
Dr. Roy from UCSF works on developing the first surgically implantable artificial kidney. This would dramatically make life easier and better for many patient who have this disease. Dialysis is an great inconvenience and kidney transplants is limited because the number of available kidneys has remained stagnant for the past decade. I had the pleasure of listening to his presentation during our Innovation Conference last Fall in San Jose, CA. It was truly inspiring. You can see Professor Roy present the implantable artificial kidney in this video.
Ram Chandra Adhikari, a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Calgary, is working on developing low-cost hydro turbines to deliver electricity in remote areas of developing countries. Even a small amount of reliable electricity makes a big difference for developing countries. It allows us to preserve and protect food sources from rotting too quickly, thus greatly improving standard of living. Ram used simulation to increase the efficiency of small hydro turbines that can be placed in Nepal. Read about Ram’s innovation in the blog he wrote entitled Improving Hydro Turbines for Developing Countries using ANSYS CFD.
And for my final story recognizing National Engineers Week — last but not least of course. Take a look at the students participating in the SpaceX Hyperloop contest who dream of connecting people by developing a ultra high-speed transportation system. One hundred motivated and enthusiastic student teams are participating in the SpaceX contest. Watch this University of California-Irvine video explaining their journey designing a Hyperloop transportation system.