In This Issue
Winter Bridge on Frontiers of Engineering
December 18, 2019 Volume 49 Issue 4

Editor's Note

Friday, December 20, 2019

Author: Ronald M. Latanision

Once again the winter issue of The Bridge is focused on the NAE Frontiers of Engineering (FOE) symposium. Jennifer West, chair of the organizing committee for the 2019 program, which was held at Boeing in North Charleston, SC, assembled a superb program that is highlighted in these pages.

We also include an op-ed from Sam Florman. Sam is a civil engineer, retired general contractor, and author who is well known in the engineering world. He has provided me with important feedback since the beginning of my tenure as editor of The Bridge. When Cameron and I interviewed Sam for the winter issue in 2015, I began by wondering aloud what word best described his influence on me and The Bridge. He suggested that I just identify him as one of my many advisors. It is true that I have many advisors, but Sam—who is approaching his 95th birthday—is a special advisor. I am especially grateful to him for his wise counsel and friendship. In this issue, he adds another thoughtful statement to his many contributions, reminding us that in our fall 2002 issue he wrote that “The problems of the Information Age—who should control the Internet and how—are still too new for us to predict their resolution.” What had begun as a platform for making information available throughout the planet now manifests in Sam’s view as “a most insidious, widespread source of calamity: our electronic world of communication.” And 17 years later his question remains unanswered.

We continue our interview series with engineers who add to our culture in ways that go beyond their engineering backgrounds. In this case, we talk with Gary Taubes, who got his MS in aerospace engineering but has made his name as an author and investigative journalist on subjects as diverse as scientific fraud and the health dangers of sugar consumption.

With this issue we introduce two new regular columns. The NAE’s new president, John Anderson, will offer his perspective on topics of interest to members and other readers, starting in this issue with his thoughts on a concise definition of engineering. And in a new column called Invisible Bridges, Guru Madhavan, Norman R. Augustine Senior Scholar and director of NAE programs, will close out each issue with musings about engineering’s connections and influences in society, building on the name of this publication.

The spring 2020 issue, edited by Warren Washington and Tony Busalacchi, will focus on climate change. Given the record-breaking high tides in Venice as well as other impacts in this country and around the world, it is certainly timely.

Finally, I am pleased to point out that The Bridge will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020. We are planning a special issue with a view toward anticipating the nature of the engineering enterprise over the next 50 years.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback at rlatanision@exponent.com.

About the Author:Ronald M. Latanision (NAE) is a senior fellow at Exponent.