In This Issue
Summer Bridge Issue on Aeronautics
June 26, 2020 Volume 50 Issue 2
The articles in this issue present the scope of progress and possibility in modern aviation. Challenges are being addressed through innovative developments that will support and enhance air travel in the decades to come.

Editor's Note: Looking to the Future in These Challenging Times

Friday, June 26, 2020

Author: Ronald M. Latanision

It is not often that both the NAE president and executive officer appear simultaneously in an issue of The Bridge, but this is just such an occasion.

In his President’s Perspective, John Anderson writes about the engineering response to covid-19 and the importance of international coalition building as a means of combating the virus that has taken command of our lives. And this issue on aeronautics is coedited by Al Romig and John Tracy, both of whom have long aviation histories with Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, respectively. From hypersonic vehicles and autonomy in aircraft applications to risk analysis and workforce concerns, the articles explore both considerable progress and next steps in aeronautics.

In this issue we also introduce the youngest writer to submit a manuscript and be published in The Bridge. Nicholas Margiewicz is a rising senior at North Port High School in Florida. I met Nick by email through one of his teachers, Teresa Caracciolo, who is chair of the Science Department and was a participant in a summer program that I founded at MIT in 1989, the Science and Engineering Program for Teachers. SEPT continues today, more than 30 years later, and I enjoy regular communication with many of the teachers who joined us in Cambridge.

As a journalism project Nick and his teacher, Brooke Kenner, agreed that he would write a series of articles, entitled “A Highway to the Future,” for the school newspaper, Bobcat Nation. Nick describes himself as an environmentalist car enthusiast, which is not too surprising given his age. I remember being a high school junior and while environmental issues were not on my mind at that point, I was then and remain today a car enthusiast.

Nick is interested in “the balance between internal combustion engine–powered transport (with renewable, emissions-free fuels, of course) and electric/­hydrogen/etc.–powered transport alongside personal transport and public transport, as well as the need for research in addressing nonexhaust emissions in everything from tires to brakes to refrigerants, and even new ways to strip/remove asbestos in older car parts.…”

I do like the approach that Nick is taking. I also feel strongly that we should encourage young, thoughtful people to write for our readership. Nick is already a dynamic thinker and writer! His generation needs to become involved in addressing the issues facing our nation and the world. They will vote in a few years and that may be the important path forward for the US and the planet.

My reading over the past few months leads me to the view that covid-19 and climate change are not mutually exclusive. The world’s atmosphere has responded positively as humans have reduced driving and energy consumption. And particulate emissions from various energy sources appear to have a potential role in the nature of the infections that have occurred among the world’s population. The planet is telling us something about its resilience. It would be a loss not to recognize this and develop a path forward. I consider Nick’s generation crucial to our future, and I welcome hearing from other up-and-coming thinkers and engineers.

Our next issue revisits nuclear electric generation, with Mike Corradini, Jacopo Buongiorno, John ­Parsons, and David Petti as coeditors. The invited articles will look at a future that includes reduced emissions and decarbonization in the energy spectrum.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback at


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