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Lyle Feisel

High Risks,
High Rewards

Welcome to 2011 and the January issue of Prism. We start the New Year with three feature articles of interest and significance to our members.

In good news for academic researchers, the Pentagon’s cutting-edge Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is expanding its efforts to involve colleges and universities in its research activities. Crucial to the agency’s success is the DARPA culture, which traditionally has encouraged researchers to explore long-shot ideas without fear of being tagged as failures if they don’t come up with anything immediately useful. Often – as we all know – unanticipated knowledge is gained and the project yields valuable results that no one had envisioned. Such is the nature of academic research.

Shattered by war, sanctions, more war, and civil unrest, Iraq’s once prized science and engineering schools are struggling to recover. At the University of Technology in Baghdad and in other institutions, this recovery is beginning despite inadequate facilities and far fewer faculty (many have fled or been killed). Few jobs currently await graduates. Still, there is some reason for optimism among the emerging crop of engineers. International oil companies have now begun work, and are contractually obliged to provide jobs to Iraqis.  

North Carolina State’s Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management FREEDM Systems Center is out to revolutionize the power grid with technologies intended to hasten the adoption of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The Center is particularly focusing on a two-way digital communications backbone for the grid, solid-state transformers that also serve as lightning-fast energy routers, and improved batteries -- particularly for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

In closing, I remind you that this is your publication and your Society. The staffs of Prism and of the other departments invite and welcome your comments and your suggestions for a better magazine and a better ASEE.


Lyle Feisel
Interim Executive Director and Publisher




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