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By Rose Ti Frere

On Thursday, October 12, I attended a seminar on the Rockville campus with guest speaker C.D. Mote, Jr., president of the National Academy of Engineering, along with Hillman entrepreneurs Yealshaday Demises, Wasique Iqbal, and Naomi Berhanu. The afternoon with Dr. Mote was great. In general, he discussed the National Academy Engineering, the grand challenges for engineering and the Grand Challenges Scholars Program.

Dr. Mote started by discussing the 20th century’s greatest engineering achievements–including  electrification, the internet, and nuclear technology–concluding that we cannot predict what engineering will achieve in the 21st century even though a vision for what engineering needs to achieve in the 21st century is possible. He proposed that vision is the continuation of life on our planet, making our world more sustainable, safe, healthy, and joyful. According to Dr. Mote, we can achieve this vision through the Grand Challenges for Engineering. He stated that nobody oversees the planet, and there will be no losers if we attend this goal because it will be about people not about things.

Dr. Mote also described fourteen grand challenges for engineering such as engineering better medicines, securing cyberspace, making solar energy economical, and providing access to clean water. He explained that engineers cannot do everything by themselves; they need help from entrepreneurs, and all other social sectors of society.

Dr. Mote’s presentation was interesting and informative. As he quoted Confucius, “I hear, I forget; I read, I remember; I do and I understand.”

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