In This Issue
Winter Bridge on Frontiers of Engineering
December 15, 2022 Volume 52 Issue 4
From novel applications of microbes to DEI in engineering to the potential for hydrogen energy, Frontiers of Engineering participants tackle today’s challenging world issues. The winter issue of The Bridge showcases research by early-career engineers as shared at the 2022 US FOE symposium.

Guest Editor's Note: The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering 2022 Symposium

Friday, December 16, 2022

Author: Timothy C. Lieuwen

The winter issue of The Bridge is typically dedicated to papers from the annual US Frontiers of Engineering symposium, held in September each year. As the current chair of this event, I am the guest editor of this issue, which features a selection of papers from the 2022 US FOE meeting, hosted by Amazon in Seattle.

The first thing you may notice since last year’s issue is that the name of the US-based program has changed, in recognition of the endowment gift of $10M from The Grainger Foundation, received earlier this year. (You may still see “US FOE” now and again when we refer to the meeting informally or when the shorter term works better in a particular context.)

The Frontiers of Engineering symposia bring together a diverse group of highly accomplished, early-career engineers who represent the best and brightest from academia, industry, government, and nonprofit sectors across all engineering disciplines. In addition to the US FOE, the series includes bilateral programs with Germany, Japan, China, and the European Union. The events provide an opportunity for competitively selected participants to learn about cutting-edge and impactful developments and to network and engage in intellectual discussions crossing traditional boundaries in engineering.

The technical sessions at the 2022 US FOE covered the following topics:

  • Microbes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, cochaired by Gabriel Kwong (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Anita Shukla (Brown University); talks covered bacterial electrophysiology, preventing biofilm--associated infections, precision delivery of probiotics, and microbial bioprocessing.
  • Technology and Racial Justice and Equity, organized by Brooke Coley (Arizona State University) and Khalid Kadir (University of California, Berkeley), with presentations on impacts of inequity in the transportation sector, cultural characteristics of engineering education that maintain exclusivity and inequality, the hidden curriculum in engineering, and constructing more nuanced and resilient engineering identities.
  • Hydrogen: A New “Universal” Energy Carrier for the Carbon-Free Future?, cochaired by Jesse Jenkins (Princeton University) and Iryna Zenyuk (University of California, Irvine); speakers described the role of hydrogen in a net-zero emissions energy system, DOE’s Hydrogen Program, clean electrolysis, and the technologies and costs of H2 production.
  • Conversational AI, organized by Suma Bhat (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Angeliki Metallinous and Jing Huang (Amazon Alexa AI), with talks about the current status and future directions of conversational AI systems, models for achieving natural human-machine communication, generative conversational networks, and techniques that provide situational context for improved human-machine understanding.

The meeting also included a breakout session to facilitate small group discussion of attendees’ research and technical work, and a panel of Amazon scientists and engineers who discussed how their work is applied in a range of Amazon services. At dinner on the second night, Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for Alexa, provided an interesting perspective on his career path and lessons learned. A list of the talks and speakers, abstracts of the presentations, and (where permission was granted) links to the slides of the presentations are all available at the US FOE website (

We thank the sponsors of the 2022 US FOE meeting: The Grainger Foundation, Amazon, National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, DOD OUSD(R&E) Research, Technology & Laboratories, Cummins Inc., and individual donors.

The next US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium will be held September 11–13, 2023, hosted by the University of Colorado Boulder. With that meeting, I will serve my third and final year as US FOE chair.

We encourage you to nominate outstanding early-career engineers to participate in this program so that we can continue to facilitate cross-disciplinary exchange and promote the transfer of new techniques and approaches across fields in order to sustain and build US innovative capacity.

About the Author:Timothy Lieuwen (NAE) is Regents’ Professor and David S. Lewis Jr. Chair, Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology.