Describe the new engine that will drive innovation and global competitiveness deep into the 21st Century?
Engineering graduate attributes include an ethic of innovation and continuous creativity while developing workable solutions that apply to our global economy. Our National Science Foundation (NSF) implemented the following goals in order to prepare the next generation; 1). "Advance knowledge, technology, and innovations addressing significant societal problems" and, 2). "Provide the workforce and technological foundation for economic competitiveness."
The initiation of Gen-3 ERC, according to the NSF news release will emphasize innovation, entrepreneurship, partnership with small research firms, and cultural exchange.
Current Engineering Resource Centers.
- Future Renewable Electrical Energy Delivery and Management Systems (FREEDM).
- Integrated Access Networks (CIAN).
The knowledge fuel inside the new engine of innovation includes the following ingredients; 1). Linking discovery with innovation, 2). Engineering graduates who are U.S. innovators and, 3). One is willing to compete at the global level.
The Age of the Technician is coming to a close and the dawn of the inventor is just over the horizon. Why? NSF stated, "[O]ptimizing efficiency and product quality are no longer sufficient for U.S. industry to remain competitive..." Furthermore, a conceptual network consisting of academic researchers, small innovative firms, larger industrial and practitioner partners and, organizations loyal to the can-do spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation are the new fuel injectors.
Gen-3 ERC Mission.
- Discover, build, innovate, and transform.
- Prepare U.S. engineering graduates for leadership.
- Develop international social networks where research, design, and production cross borders.
- Energize engineering programs at the pre-college level to attract the next generation of inventors.
- Imbue engineering graduates with the capacity to create and exploit knowledge for technological innovation.
- Partner with industry and other entities at the local level.
- Speed translation of research results to innovation.
Fundamental to the success of Gen-3 ERC implementation is organizational willingness. I submit two types of characters exist within a given organization; a protagonist and an antagonist. Typically, the antagonist advances because of low-risk taking and towing the company line. One might say, "do not rock the boat" or "this is the way we have always..."
On the other hand, our protagonist is the one who questions "why are we doing this..." or "there is got to be a better way." We might even label our protagonist as a gadfly.
What type of fuel does one need for the new engine of competitiveness?
I, for one believe that change and any change creates a sense of confusion, role re-identification, and a sense of diminished power. However, NSF is calling out, to reassess our attitude. The Gen-3 ERC mission is a challenge to leadership. I sense a fundamental shift in power distribution from large to small, from low-risk to high-risk, from status quo to game changers, from isolation into collaboration, from turtle to rabbit.
The Age of the Technician is fading and the inventor is on the rise.
Engineering Research Centers (ERC): Partnerships in Transforming Research, Education and Technology.