From the President:
July 2013

Optimize and Simplify for Future Growth

Madiha El Mehelmy Kotb

ASME's annual Meeting in June marked the beginning of my term as president of ASME, with a strong sense of priorities on expanding ASME's footprint in the energy technology communities, building bridges with international partners to maximize our outreach to engineers and related professions and representatives, and nurturing ASME's geographic diversity, both in membership and in global access to ASME's standards-setting process. ASME continues its long and prosperous heritage in making the world a safer and better place to live.

ASME's emphasis on continuity in leadership provides a steady, cohesive trajectory forward for the whole Society. It is also seen in the work throughout the Society: One example is from last year's focus on the energy-water nexus from which comes two workshop reports, published this March: Municipal Wastewater Reuse by Electric Utilities and ASME Industrial Demineralization (Desalinization). We can now build our working groups and carry further discussions to others throughout the network, including our global partners. ASME will have important opportunities to continue its work on these initiatives at upcoming conferences on powering the future and sustainable forums.  

An increasing number of pipeline systems collaborations in workshops, forums and conference worldwide — often including training offerings involving both ASME standards and institutes — have provided an excellent example of the benefits and efficiencies we can achieve through synergies within ASME, especially in working with each other across sectors. Our opportunities are plentiful, and we need to keep working well together as volunteers and staff. I hope to see ASME continue to build better mechanisms among its sectors to nurture the growth and geographic diversity we invite.

As engineers gather to discuss the changing practices and processes needed to respond to environmental pressures and the high demands for depleting resources, the upcoming year offers many opportunities. ASME itself is meeting milestones in its initiatives in global collaboration; in strengthening its energy resources as it promotes balanced, technically sound policies; and building workforce competencies and communities based on knowledge sharing.

Today we must think differently about the world, just as today's engineer moves beyond probability theory to quantum theory. We are moving beyond linear systems to more complex, nonlinear systems. We can begin to see a synthesis of systems knowledge and how it re-shapes engineering practice.

This will be a great year to open up personal horizons, too, particularly through ASME.org and its approach to networking opportunities. We truly have new ways of seeing our world, new ways of knowing what we know as engineers, new ways of communicating with our peers within a professional network, and new ways of thinking, to match the diversity of cultures and individual background of all our members.

Technology can offer many illustrations of how engineering thinking changes regularly. During my comments at the Annual Meeting, last month, I shared how early in my own career, the future of high-speed, magnetically levitated trains catapulted my generation's thinking from wheels, axles and bearings — away from steel-on-steel, rubber-meets-the-road technology. Maglev trains hovered in the air and slid along pathways. They were advanced engineering with the advantages of simplicity and reliability. The flow is quiet and fast. Advances have made them even more attractive today. Its electrical production is limited and manageable. Its moving parts are minimal and efficient. It responds well to unexpected actions, governed by boundary limits. Self-reliance and stability are built in.

I see maglev correlations with ASME's pathway. As ASME we must evolve, changing the way we think, the way we see, and the way we know engineering. We can control our trajectory through optimization. That is my wish for ASME as a forward-moving organization — to optimize and simplify. We must make it easier for others to join us and sharing our vision of ASME being the essential resource so that we can pursue solutions that the world needs.

Like the maglev, we are propelled along pathways that give our sense of direction and destination. We want to hit the high speeds and be prepared to respond to the uncertainties ahead. I like this image because it is boldly functional, highly efficient and focused on its destination. As we continue to look at how societies like ASME and the work of engineers are understood and supported, let's be willing to adapt to new ways of working together.

Madiha El Mehelmy Kotb
ASME President