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Report on National Engineers Week 2012

By Richard Leshuk, Director IIE NCC

Annually, the third full week of February is National Engineers Week (NEW). The observance is intended to call attention to the societal contributions made by engineers as well as to emphasize the importance math, science, and technical skills in primary education. Related local activities are coordinated by the DC Council of Engineering and Architectural Societies (DCCEAS), a group representing 34 area professional and technical societies. Our IIE National Capital Chapter actively participates.

Fernando Pons, PE, President of the Herndon based, geoengineering firm of Pons and Associates was the keynote speaker at the February 22, DCCEAS, NEW, Proclamation Luncheon held on at the Pier 7 Restaurant. His presentation, Sustainability Initiatives and Managing Underground Risk, focused on project management approaches to achieving sustainability in designs and mitigating risk in urban development projects. Particularly interesting, was his enumeration of the myriad sources of risk in the underground aspects of construction. He elaborated on the effectiveness of structuring a team approach among all stakeholders starting in the earliest stages of a project.

Dr. James W. Mitchell, Dean of Engineering, Howard University gave the keynote address at the February 25, NEW, Awards Banquet held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Silver Spring. Dr. Mitchell, a noted Materials Science researcher, retired after a 30 year career at Lucent Bell Laboratories. He discussed the role of multidisciplinary teams in solving major engineering challenges. In a brief outline of scenarios for the future, Dr. Mitchell described a range of evolving technologies including photosynthesis based energy generation, the possibilities for hydrogen based technologies, autonomous technologies in transportation, and solar powered desalination. He closed by commenting on possible scenarios involving artificial weather and innovative space initiatives.

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