In This Issue
Fall Issue of The Bridge on Nuclear Energy Revisited
September 15, 2020 Volume 50 Issue 3
The desire to reduce the carbon intensity of human activities and strengthen the resilience of infrastructure key to economic prosperity and geopolitical stability shines a new spotlight on the value and challenges of nuclear energy.

Editor's Note: The NAE and The Bridge Address Changes

Monday, September 21, 2020

Author: Ronald M. Latanision

In this issue we welcome new NAE Chair Donald C. Winter, former president and CEO of TRW Systems and secretary of the Navy in the Obama administration. He and President John Anderson, whose column ­President’s Perspective has appeared in previous issues, will share this space, alternating from one issue to the next, as a vehicle for exploring issues of ­interest to the engineering community and NAE members. In his inaugural column, Don writes of the clear need today for the NAE to provide the “independent, objective, and nonpartisan advice” that is our mission in service to society and the nation.

We are living in profoundly unsettling times. The world and particularly this nation are struggling to control and contain a pandemic the likes of which few living Americans have ever experienced. And the persistent struggle with inequities and racial injustice in this country has been vividly brought to national attention through shocking videos, lawful protests and marches, and the passing of civil rights icon John Lewis. The NAE has a role to play in addressing these and ­other issues of broad concern. As a start, President Anderson has established a new Committee on Racial Justice and Equity to advise the NAE, described on p. 82.

We also include in this issue a personal message from a member of both the NAE and NAM, Rod Pettigrew, who last year won the NAE’s Arthur Bueche Award for his contributions to technology research, policy, and national and international cooperation. Rod is executive dean for engineering medicine and CEO of EnHealth (Engineering Health) at Texas A&M University. As a Black man who grew up in this country, Rod has a deep and personal understanding of racial injustice. His view, based on his experiences, could lead us to a better world: “When people learn that our shared humanity binds us one to the other, that differences which do not involve character actually bring character to our interwoven lives, that is when our society will honor its stated commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.” I appreciate Rod’s generosity in sharing his experiences and outlook. His testimony is sure to open some eyes and I hope will help guide thinking and actions as we all navigate and create more respectful and equitable ways going forward.

In the summer issue, we published a paper dealing with climate change by high school junior Nicholas Margiewicz of North Port, Florida. I am inclined to the view that we should hear from young people addressing issues facing our nation and the world. In this issue, we include a piece from Matt Fitzgerald, a graduate student at the University of Colorado studying under Brandon Schaffer, a former state senator. The paper explores ways to keep voting outcomes safe from foreign intervention and cyberattacks. This could not be more timely, and it is encouraging to me that once again young people are stepping up to the realities of contemporary life and considering solutions to important problems.

And I am delighted that a public webinar was held in August based on the summer issue’s articles on aeronautics. Featuring many of the issue’s contributors, the session was a joint effort with a new NAE program, the Forum on Complex Unifiable Systems (FOCUS).

In the winter issue Guru Madhavan, William Rouse, and George Poste coedit a compendium of topics derived from a well-attended FOCUS convocation held in April. That issue will be a companion to a special issue celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Bridge as an NAE publication. The anniversary issue will feature 50 short essays that look forward to the next 50 years of engineering and technology in the service of society.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback at

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