Engineers are the talent pipeline to lead Energy Transitions

This year’s NAE Annual Meeting, as it returns in-person and features inductions of an unprecedented three new-member classes (2020, 2021 and 2022), is sure to be memorable. Recognizing and welcoming new members is a privilege I cherish each year as president of the NAE.

The urgency and necessity of greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with a goal of zero in the second half of this century, has influenced the NAE’s priorities. With this urgency in mind, the 2022 NAE Annual Meeting is focused on Energy Transitions.

Globally and nationally, increased frequencies and intensities of droughts, heavy rains, storm surges and extreme weather threaten people, ecosystems and future prosperity.  As engineers, we are at the precipice of a defining moment to lead the energy transition and to guide a national course of action for the benefit of all.

Our leadership is, as Benjamin Franklin noted, “in service to others.” We should gain inspiration from Franklin’s legacy of curiosity, innovation and civil service to work as engineers toward a better world for everyone.

The NAE and engineers across the country continue to respond to the needs of our country by inventing, creating and innovating to build a collective response to make net-zero emissions a reality. Our true value to this effort is to address climate change – mitigation and adaptation – through action. Conversion to a zero-carbon energy economy and lifestyle in our country will require unprecedented creativity and innovation by our engineering, scientific and business communities.

Leading off the Energy Transitions dialogue at the Annual Meeting is NAE member John P. HoldrenTeresa and John Heinz Research Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who will discuss engineering challenges and opportunities of meeting the energy-climate challenge.  We will then hear perspectives on technical issues arising from the energy transition:

  • Solar Power: Sarah Kurtz, University of California, Merced
  • Next-Generation Grid: Amy Halloran, Sandia National Laboratories
  • Nuclear Energy and the Grid: Kathryn A. McCarthy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Small Modular Nuclear Reactors: José N. Reyes Jr., NuScale Power, LLC
  • Fossil and Renewable Energy: Gavin P. Towler, Honeywell Inc.

I can’t wait to hear from these and other accomplished engineers whose imagination, ingenuity and expertise will be critical to tackling one of the most pressing problems facing humanity – protecting our planet and the people in it by creating and scaling the energy transition.

I hope you will join me October 2-3 to welcome the many distinguished new members who will be formally inducted into the NAE, and to begin the work to find solutions to Energy Transitions. For more details and to register, click here.