From the President February 2015

Feb 12, 2015

Robert Sims

Resetting the Future in 2015

This year, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals will enter their next phase of seeing major improvements in alleviating poverty and improving quality of life globally. Technology itself is central to many of these efforts — with broader public use of 3D printing and its revolutionary influence on manufacturing, the application of newer technologies in urban centers, and favorable trends in renewable energy technologies and sustainable practices.

From May through October, the city of Milan will host the Universal Expo, displaying technologies for developing economies aimed at poverty reduction, food production, water management, and health. Exciting breakthroughs in recycling systems, solar-powered water desalination and other green energy technologies will be a part of the first fully sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste city, Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Demonstrated technologies will include upgrades in mass transit and personal rapid transit technologies. Also expected in 2015 is the first large-scale solar updraft towers to become operational in Arizona, combining the technologies for wind turbines and greenhouse chimney effects to drive them, working in any weather condition and at night.

Other visionary technologies will contribute to more efficient automation combining micro-electromechanical systems with wireless devices, machine-to-machine communications and advanced sensors, smart homes and advances in medical care.

To keep pace, engineers will need more exposure not only to the trends themselves, but also to the bigger (and tougher) questions. In other words, engineers will need to keep an expanded worldview that gives shape and form to integrated systems and broader understanding of risks. ASME conferences, publications, and digital platforms, including, are keys to keeping us linked to these evolutionary technologies.

For ASME, engineering remains the heart of essential improvements in the human condition. We function best at the crossroads, linking multiple industries in a cross-pollination of ideas and their applications. The focus of our strategic themes in energy, advanced manufacturing, workforce development and the global view helps engineers bring practicality to tomorrow's solutions.

What can ASME look forward to through the coming year? We can get a glimpse of the future through events such as ASME's Innovation Design Simulation Challenges, which lets students showcase their simulations at the ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conference / Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (IDETC/CIE) and the Additive Manufacturing 3D printing (AM3D) Conference in Boston in August. IDETC will also host more Social Meet-ups and Mini-talks, similar to those now online.

Just as the ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge has continued to grow globally, into Latin America and India, ASME's Innovation Showcase goes global in significant ways this year — beyond the United States (in May) and to India and Kenya in June. You can follow its progress on Twitter @asmeishow. The IShow focuses on hardware-led social ventures for individuals and organizations bringing physical products to market.

Exploration of the universe will also continue to inspire and awe as probes reach unexplored destinations beyond planet Earth. Part of this universe, the winners of NASA Making Tools, were recently announced, wherein students are creating 3D models designed for use on the International Space Station. The ASME Foundation provides key support for this initiative.

Through my travels and correspondences, I am enjoying the work of engineering that shapes the future and the role of engineers as co-creators of how we live, in both urban environments and developing economies. As engineers, I hope you are engaged and helping to shape the larger worldviews that are being envisioned today.

J. Robert Sims ASME President

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