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Leaders Convene to Discuss Solutions to Challenges Facing U.S. Engineering

UC San Diego hosts National Engineering Forum

Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Industry, government, media and UC San Diego academic leaders discussed solutions to the challenges facing the U.S. engineering enterprise at the National Engineering Forum (NEF) on Oct.10 at the Robert Payne Scripps Seaside Forum at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Partnering with the NEF, UC San Diego co-hosted the dialogue with the Council on Competitiveness and Lockheed Martin.

“UC San Diego is proud to have had a leadership role in this national discussion on how we can advance America’s interests through engineering,” said Khosla. “Universities play an important role in addressing the National Engineering Forum’s 3C’s – the capacity, capability and competitiveness of our engineering workforce. UC San Diego is working to ensure our next-generation leaders have the knowledge, skills and visionary leadership to tackle complex global challenges and increase our competitiveness on the world stage.”

Joining the NEF reception before the working dinner, UC President Janet Napolitano spoke of her experiences during the daylong visit to UC San Diego where she saw first-hand the interdisciplinary research initiatives that will resolve the complex issues facing the world. Napolitano said the tour and her interactions with campus faculty, students and staff demonstrate that the University of California has a jewel in UC San Diego.

The San Diego event was one stop in the NEF’s regional dialogue series happening in cities across America. NEF chose cities with a prominent role in shaping the nation’s engineering heritage and its future.

“The competitiveness of the United States depends on a skilled workforce of engineers and innovators who are equipped to design solutions to our nation’s most critical needs,” said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, Lockheed Martin senior vice president and chief technology officer, a speaker at last night’s event. “San Diego is one of our country’s innovation incubators, and Lockheed Martin is proud to partner with this community to demonstrate how engineers can come together to solve our nation’s most difficult challenges.”

San Diego was chosen for its rich history in information and wireless technology and its innovations in clean technology, biotechnology and medical research. UC San Diego’s founder and former Scripps Institution of Oceanography director, Roger Revelle, was one of the first to bring global warming to the world’s attention more than 50 years ago. From UC San Diego’s information technology innovations and internationally renowned bioengineering and structural engineering departments, to the commercial successes of Qualcomm, Cricket Communications, and LG Electronics, and the research done by more than 500 biomedical companies, contract research organizations and nonprofits, America’s Finest City is an ideal location for discussion of the 3C’s.

Setting the tone for the dialogue, Irwin Jacobs, founding chairman and CEO emeritus of San Diego-based Qualcomm Incorporated and an influential member of UC San Diego's founding faculty, noted the role that engineers from UC San Diego have had in helping Qualcomm establish 6.7 billion mobile connections for voice and Internet access impacting people's lives worldwide.

Deborah Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness and a NEF co-founder, said, “We are truly in the midst of a national transition and transformation in terms of our engineering leadership and innovation capacity.  The lessons we have learned from San Diego in this National Engineering Forum dialogue – as well as deep work across the region over the past decade to catalyze regional innovation – will help us to confront and solve a range of challenges, conundrums and choices facing the United States.“

Next week, the National Engineering Forum will be in Seattle for a regional dialogue hosted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Washington.

Lockheed Martin, the Council on Competitiveness, and the National Academy of Engineering launched NEF, which now has a growing roster of partners. The regional dialogue series will culminate in a national cornerstone event.