Here in Washington, it's been a long wet summer—but ASEE's
2003 annual conference in Nashville was, for me, a highlight. I am pleased
to say it was a very successful meeting that drew over 3,200 attendees.
At this year's annual awards banquet, members saw the inauguration
of Duane Abata as ASEE president and Sherra Kerns as president-elect.
With the advent of September, of course, the climate is back to school,
and this month's Prism takes a look at a new televised competition
among engineering students called "Robot Rivals." While
engineering competitions like Battle Bots have become increasingly
standard TV fare,
this new cable television show takes a different slant. Under tight
time constraints, teams of college engineering students compete to
that must complete a complex task such as breaking down a wall while
salvaging a delicate object. The creativity and enthusiasm of the student
teams is both entertaining and educational.
The applicability of such skills, however, resonates as one reads
about what engineers faced during the cleanup at Ground Zero after
11. Peter Rinaldi, an engineer with the Port Authority of New York,
was appointed lead engineer to oversee the job at the devastated site
the twin towers. In "The Phoenix Man," Rinaldi describes
tunneling beneath smoldering collapsed basement floors and floating
through flooded train tunnels, and of the rubble that resembled a giant
of pickup sticks. Nine months later, after 108,342 truckloads of debris
had been removed, Rinaldi, a civil engineer, was able to focus on solidifying
foundations that will allow new buildings to rise from the ashes.
This month's cover story, "The Winning Edge," examines
the different technologies developed by engineers that helped the U.S.
defeat Iraq on the battlefield. Prism interviewed Arthur Cebrowski, director
of the Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation, who outlines
the areas of research that he hopes scientists and engineers at America's
research universities will undertake. Cebrowski sees the coming years
as a golden age for military research, believing that engineering researchers
will play a crucial role in the new military.
President Bush calls them Freedom Cars and has announced plans to
commit $1.7 billion toward research. The administration hopes to have
powered by hydrogen, a clean renewable resource, zipping along America's
highways in significant numbers within the next decade. The article, "Clean
Machines," looks at some of the hurdles fuel cell technology must
overcome—the greatest being the lack of a hydrogen distribution
infrastructure, which will take plenty of time and money to build.
I hope you enjoy the variety of articles in this month's Prism.
As always, I appreciate your comments and thoughts.
Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher