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The NAE National Meeting, held May 4-5 in Irvine, CA, was a testament to how far engineering has come—both in the inclusion of women in engineering fields and in engineering advancements that shape our world. This dynamic event included a keynote address by SpaceX CEO Gwynne Shotwell, four engaging Gilbreth Lectures, EngineerGirl 20th Anniversary celebration, and the unveiling of The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering logo.
The standing room only event was attended by NAE members, EngineerGirl ambassadors and local students from Cabrillo High School in Long Beach, Samueli Academy in Santa Ana, and the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
“You have a great career and a great life ahead of you,” said NAE Chair Don Winter in his remarks welcoming students to the event. “I have found great satisfaction and joy in being able to participate in the creation of solutions to mankind’s greatest challenges. Engineering is somewhat unique in that regard. It is not just the study and analysis of the world as it exists today; it is the creation of the future world, one that addresses the evolving needs of society and improves the lives of all. I welcome you to a community that strives to take on the world’s great challenges and wish you well in your journey.”
Celebrating EngineerGirl and Frontiers of Engineering
As part of the day’s events, NAE President John L. Anderson acknowledged two specific programs that make a difference in the lives of future and early-career engineers: EngineerGirl and Frontiers of Engineering.
“EngineerGirl features real women engineers as role models, conducts an annual writing contest, and through the EngineerGirl Ambassadors Program, provides opportunities for high school girls who are interested in engineering to share that interest with upper elementary and middle school girls, thereby introducing engineering to an even wider audience,” Anderson said. Since its inception 20 years ago, EngineerGirl has introduced thousands of girls across the country to new opportunities in all areas of engineering.
One of NAE’s most successful programs – Frontiers of Engineering – which brings together early-career engineers from industry, academia and government to network and learn from each other, received a $10 million endowment from The Grainger Foundation. In recognition of their generous support, the program has been renamed The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering and a new logo was unveiled.
“The new logo illustrates the program’s continued commitment to early-career engineers while honoring the legacy of The Grainger Foundation,” Anderson said at the logo unveiling. “The four Lillian Gilbreth Lecture presenters are alumni of the newly-named The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering program, which is further testament to the value and success of this program.”
Keynote Speaker: Gwynne Shotwell, COO, SpaceX
Building on the excitement of the day, SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell opened the program with an engaging presentation on “What’s After Mars.” Taking the stance that space exploration to Mars is near term, Shotwell detailed the considerations and risks it would take to make interstellar travel possible.
The mainstay of the event was the Gilbreth Lecture series. Named in honor of Lillian M. Gilbreth, the Gilbreth Lectures were established to recognize outstanding early-career engineers who are also especially gifted in the presentation of their engineering ideas.
“The four distinguished women engineers speaking today participated in a previous Frontiers of Engineering Symposium and were selected by the NAE as the 2022 Lillian Gilbreth Lecturers,” explained NAE Vice President Corale Brierley.
The topics ranged from space-based astronomical observatories, to sea-level rise adaptation pathways, to new approaches to Alzheimer’s to shape-shifting soft robots.
Click on the photos below to read the full photo caption. Photos courtesy of Rasheed Riveroll Castillo, student, Cabrillo High School.