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Frank Huband

An Important Role For Science

News headlines of recent months have been dominated by President Obama's work with Congress on the issue of healthcare reform. And while it appears the president has had to modify both his timetable and plan to overhaul the nation's healthcare, his administration appears firm in its support of science and technology. Prism's cover story, "Expanding Horizons," looks at Obama's plans for the biggest federal research investment in history, and the story contains an interview with John Holdren, assistant to the president and director of the statutory Office of Science and Technology Policy. The president has said that science will be an important player in tackling the country's long-term economic, energy, healthcare, and education problems, as well as in addressing the global climate crisis. While academic leaders are enthusiastic, congressional leaders have been more skeptical, and it remains uncertain whether science and technology will fare better than healthcare reform.

Spurred by the growing concern about climate change, the term "carbon footprint" has become a current watchword, and life-cycle assessment a hot field. "Exposed!" reports on the ballooning interest in determining the life-cycle of everything - products, services and industries - as companies seek to measure the ecological impact of their products - how much they contribute to global warming, how much their manufacture consumes in natural resources, and how much waste they create.

The global climate crisis takes on a greater sense of immediacy when disaster hits the evening news. When there's a flood or a hurricane or a killer cyclone, such as the one that hit Myanmar last year, we are appalled by the devastation. "Emergency Response" tells us who besides the Red Cross can be counted on for help and emergency relief. RedR is an international disaster relief organization that provides the engineers needed to solve urgent problems of water supply, sanitation, and electricity. For a RedR crisis engineer, it's "have passport, will travel." Since 1980, 2,500 RedR members have been dispatched to major crises around the world, from Angola to Afghanistan, and Rwanda to Iraq.

I hope you enjoy this month's selection of articles. At Prism, our goal is to offer ASEE's readers a variety of stories that are current, thoughtful, and interesting. I welcome your comments and suggestions.


Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher




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