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Frank Huband

Power Grid Ambitions

This month's Prism cover story takes a look at the antiquated state of America's power grid and the ambitious plans to overhaul our current shaky system. Today, the grid is an amazing hodgepodge of 16,000 power plants, 3,300 utilities, and 300,000 miles of power lines. In many ways, it's a testament to the engineers who have cobbled it together over the years, so that most of the time, our computers boot right up, and lights come on at the flick of a switch. But given our ever-increasing appetite for energy and worrisome reliance on fossil fuels, we are considerably overdue for a major makeover using the smarts of digital technology. "The Cyber Grid" examines how use of the Internet, future applications, and two-way communications would help balance power generation and load demands, accommodate renewable energy sources, and, we hope, enhance grid security.

"All in the Family" reports on a movement that joins parents and their children in hands-on engineering activities designed to be fun and to stimulate interest. A workshop or even a single evening of family engineering is usually designed with attention-grabbing activities – and most kids plunge right in. Parents may be more reserved but often move from looking over their kids' shoulders to becoming engaged co-learners. A key premise of family engineering is that parents influence their children's career choices. By convincing parents that engineering is a viable possibility for their kids, you open a door to getting more young people into the field.

Our profile of ASEE President J.P. Mohsen confirms that parents the world over often guide their children's career choices. J.P. tells us that television and cinema, not engineering, were his first career interests. Though he was accepted at a college in Tehran that specialized in those fields and got the OK from his father, he knew Mohsen Sr. did not truly approve of his choice. Good thing too, because both America and ASEE benefited from J.P.'s eventual decision to come to the United States to study civil engineering at the University of Louisville. This profile captures J.P.'s broad interests and can-do spirit. A host of ASEE past presidents comment on J.P.'s energy, enthusiasm, and great personal warmth. You'll want to read about his plans for his presidential year, which include focusing on faculty development to help engineers become better teachers.

I hope you enjoy this month's selection of articles. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.


Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher




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