NY Times’ Friedman: Engineers Will Play “Important Role” in a “Hyper-Connected World”

In A Speech to the ASME Congress, Best-Selling Author Friedman focused on engineering, education and changing needs for the workforce

NEW YORK, Nov. 15, 2012 – Addressing the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in Houston, Texas, best-selling author Thomas L. Friedman examined the role of the engineering profession in dealing with  critical issues facing the United States – and the world – in the 21st century. He opened his speech by saying: “I could not have written my book, “The World is Flat”, without some great engineering tutors.” (“The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Center,” 2005)

Friedman outlined what he believes are America’s three great challenges, adding ‘Engineers are going to be central” to their solutions.

  1. Energy and climate change – how do we power the future for a growing population striving for higher standards of living without tipping the world into dangerous climate change?
  2. Large government debt, deficits and entitlements.
  3. The merger of globalization and the information technology revolution and how we can best adapt to a world that has quickly become “hyper-connected.”

Freidman spoke at the 2012 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition on Nov. 12.

Friedman also focused on his latest book, “That Used To Be US:  How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back,(2011), co-authored with Michael Mandelbaum. “What we see is a great and talented and energetic country falling into the worst kind of decline, a slow decline, just slow enough for us not to drop everything and pull together to fix what needs fixing,” Friedman said. “This book is our way of saying something about what is wrong, why things have gone wrong and about what we have to do to make things right and right now.”

In the speech, Friedman called for creativity, innovation and constant learning for today’s professionals, including engineers, to “pass on the American dream for other generations.” He said that restoring the “fate, future, vigor and vitality” of the nation hinges on people and institutions willing to rise above the status quo.

“Average is over,” Friedman declared.  “Everyone has to be an innovator in the workplace now. Innovation will become the way of the future. Every boss in the hyper- connected world has connections to cheap labor, cheap genius. We all have to find our own ‘extras’ to contribute to the workplace, and show why we deserve a high wage and why we can’t be outsourced or digitized.”

Marc W. Goldsmith and Thomas G. Loughlin, president and executive director, respectively, of ASME, were among the officials of the Society present in the keynote session.  Loughlin introduced Friedman as “one of the leading thinkers of our time.”

Said Goldsmith: “We live in such exciting times, with engineers playing a critical role in the advancement of people around the globe.”

The 2012 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, which continues to Nov. 16, provided a forum for the discussion of new technology developments in transportation, energy, aerospace, materials, and other subjects.

About ASME
ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.

Contact: Deborah Wetzel
Cell: 917-580-0974
Phone: 212-591-7085
Email: wetzeld@asme.org