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Approximately 60 early-career engineers from the United States and China brought palpable energy to the 2022 CAFOE held July 18-20. Representing a diverse mix of engineering specialties and fields, these experts tackled some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as water sustainability and food safety, and presented cutting-edge research in those areas as well as wearable electronics for human health and additive manufacturing.
“The energy and versatility today’s engineers bring to the discussions is awe-inspiring,” said NAE President John L. Anderson, who attended the three-day event along with NAE Executive Officer Alton D. (Al) Romig Jr. and NAE International Secretary James (Jim) Tien. “They find work-arounds to logistics hurdles caused by COVID, and see challenges as opportunities to discover, learn, and find viable solutions. The important contacts they made here will hopefully last throughout their careers for future information sharing.”
Because of ongoing concerns about the pandemic and international travel, the 2022 CAFOE centered on a new kind of international gathering—a “point-to-point hybrid” event—that built on the foundation laid in previous years’ in-person symposia. Chinese attendees gathered primarily in Beijing and U.S. attendees met in person at the National Academies’ Beckman Center in Irvine, California. Each country had in-person activities at their respective sites, then convened virtually for cross-sharing of information through technical presentations, poster sessions, and breakout discussion groups.
“I learned a lot of other areas that I was originally not very familiar with, through the interaction with participants and presenters in both oral and poster sessions,” said one of the attendees in China. Another pointed out, “The symposium is interdisciplinary, which helps broaden my mind (quite different from the professional conferences confined in only my research area).”
As part of the U.S.-based program, attendees engaged in their poster sessions and in discussion groups, toured three institutes at the University of California Irvine, and listened to a presentation on the ethnography of Beijing business students, which was added to the original program to help U.S.-based participants engage in China’s culture even though they remained in the U.S. It was evident that strong connections were made among the U.S. attendees.
As one U.S. attendee said: “It was really a pleasure meeting everyone and getting the chance to hear about the amazing work people are doing. I agree that the talks were really great and so
interesting to listen to. I learned so much in a very short period of time and hope to be able to stay in touch with everyone moving forward!!”
In 2021, three bilateral FOE meetings were held virtually—the German-American (GAFOE) in March, the Japan-America (JAFOE) in June, and the European Union-United States (EU-USFOE) in November—and the USFOE in September was a hybrid event that took place both virtually and in-person at the Beckman Center. This year’s CAFOE was the first bilateral FOE organized as a point-to-point hybrid meeting, taking advantage of both virtual and in-person meeting formats.
According to Janet Hunziker, director of The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Program, FOE symposia are typically in-person events, which allow for deeper connections among engineers from diverse engineering fields and different countries. Future in-person events are planned, including the The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering 2022 Symposium taking place September 21-23 at Amazon in Seattle, Washington, and the 2022 EU-US Frontiers of Engineering symposium scheduled for October 19-22 in Bled, Slovenia (please visit www.naefrontiers.org for program and Covid updates).
Abstracts of all sessions from the 2022 CAFOE are on its website; slides or videos will be posted as they come in from speakers. Additional information from the 2022 CAFOE will appear in the fall issue of the NAE’s quarterly, The Bridge, which will be available online in September.
Information on the upcoming The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering 2022 Symposium is available on the event website. Detailed information on the research and presentations from that event will be the focus of the winter issue of The Bridge, which will be available online in December.
Information on all FOE events can be found on its website at www.naefrontiers.org.