"Now it's my time to make a difference," Dr. Swanson says. "I'm giving to the ASME Foundation to close the circle. It's just what one does and it's the thing to do. I'm where I am because people made a difference in my life. Now, it's my turn to help others and I do this through the ASME Foundation."
Dr. Swanson's visionary and generous gift of $1 million to ASME Foundation's Federal Fellows program for its Engineering the Greater Good campaign helps policymakers in Washington make informed decisions on issues involving engineering and science. The program enables selected ASME members to spend one year as advisors in the public policy arena in Washington, D.C. These Federal Fellows bring their technical expertise to lawmakers and policy makers, offering input on a broad range of technology issues ranging from energy and nanotechnology to infrastructure development. "The field of engineering is the field of the future and almost all the problems have engineering solutions but require political understanding. This is where the Federal Fellows come in. The main issues are energy, food, and water and you cannot come in with ideas and projects without political influences," Dr. Swanson says. "We need engineering expertise and savvy. That's why I am so enthused by the program." He remains personally involved in the success of the program. "Each year, ASME invites me to join the Federal Fellows as they meet legislators and I attend Congressional briefings," he adds. "I enjoy being part of this organization and making a difference."
A longtime member of ASME, he notes that "ASME is the center of the mechanical engineering experience. The meetings are gatherings of the best and brightest minds. It's a gathering of the clan, where you exchange ideas. It's a real community."
Dr. Swanson, who received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, obtained a Ph.D. in applied mechanics by attending night school at the University of Pittsburgh. He created a computer simulation software code known as ANSYS and is internationally regarded as an authority and pioneer in the application of finite-element methods to engineering.
His commitment to energy is both professional and personal. Dr. Swanson drives a hybrid car and installed solar panels on the roof of his home. 'The future is energy," he says. "And through ASME, we can make a difference."