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On Friday, May 12, I had the distinct honor of giving the opening keynote address at the Washington Academy of Sciences 125th Anniversary Gala and Awards Banquet. It was a pleasure to recognize those worthy of the 2023 award and to celebrate the Washington Academy’s 125th Anniversary.
Anniversaries are more than a celebration of our past. They are a time to ponder past lessons learned, and then set our sights forward -- to the next 125 years.
Anniversaries are a time to ask: “What more can we do?” “What issues should we address?” “What actions should we take?” “What partnerships should we build to advance the academy toward synergizing science, engineering and medicine?”
National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, who was elected to the Washington Academy’s Fellowship last year, said it eloquently, when he stated: “This is a time when we are seeing fantastic new investments in science, technology, innovation, and discovery.”
I echo that statement. But I would be remiss if I didn’t add “ENGINEERING” to the mix.
Discovery and development, go hand in hand, and the latter often leads to the former. Engineering, as we know, is a prime enabler of economy, security, and culture.
This fact has informed our work at the National Academy of Engineering, which operates under the 1863 charter that established the National Academy of Sciences to provide advice to the nation on matters of science, engineering, and medicine.
Over the past two years, NAE’s strategic focus, and the work that it encompasses, has been centered on three interlinked themes: People. Systems. Culture. Our themes aren’t that different than the ones that have defined the Washington Academy’s work since its inception. Our purposes are complementary, which allows for greater opportunities to inform each other’s work and success.
Here are a few examples of where complementary efforts enhance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in our profession, and promote the skills needed to build a strong engineering talent pool.
By reaching students in the middle school years, and providing them engagement opportunities throughout their high school, college and early career years, we support their educational experience and improve opportunities.
Now is the time for organizations, universities, academia and industry to work together to bolster interest in STEM education and professions and strengthen the future of engineering.
Excerpt of remarks given at the Washington Academy of Sciences 125th Anniversary Gala and Award Banquet,
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial at the Grand Masonic Hall, May 12, 2023