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Photo of Joseph Bordogna

Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Deputy Director
Chief Operating Officer
National Science Foundation

Ibero-American Summit on Engineering Education
São Paulo, Brazil
March 24 - 26, 2003

Greetings to you all:

I am honored to participate in your conference. This international meeting on Engineering Education is important for the health, wealth, and prosperity of all our nations. The concept of an Engineer of the Americas is one whose time has come.

We all know that engineers design and build society and civilization. They carry forth the human intent for an era that lies ahead. It is the engineer who conceptualizes the ideas for progress.

The world is on a fast clock of change and engineering educators must recognize the new directions of this change. We have an unusual opportunity to educate for green design, for integrative thinking and collaboration, for the effective use of resources, for the interchange of cultures, and for capitalizing on new knowledge at the frontier of science and engineering.

The 20th century has witnessed an explosion of knowledge and increased specialization of academic pursuits. Paraphrasing the words of the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, in his Mission of the University, the need now to synthesize knowledge and connect disciplines elicits a genius for integration from the future.

Mastering the integration of ideas and technologies will be the clarion call for engineers in this century.

Initiatives to respond include focused attention on disciplinary interfaces where new knowledge is increasingly created, fresh coupling with industry to exploit discovery, scholarly synergy between research and teaching, and the recognition of engineering as an integrative process.

The implementation of ideas through new products, systems, and services is the essence of engineering as a socially responsible profession. Done well, the creation of shared wealth with a respect for the quality of life is the result.

The ability to make connections among specialized areas of knowledge; to understand relationships among seemingly disparate discoveries, events, and trends; and to integrate them in ways that benefit the world community will be the hallmarks of modern engineers.

Our intellectual mission must include the cultivation of each student's ability to bridge the boundaries between disciplines and organizations and make the connections that produce deeper insights.

And again in the context of Ortega, just as it is imperative to reach across disciplinary boundaries to construct the whole, it is equally important to integrate the intellectual and cultural capabilities of the nations of the Americas.

We increasingly think about the Americas as many complementary entities. With this new understanding, we can recognize strengths to teach each other and capabilities we can learn from each other. This is the way successful partnerships work. This is the way we can develop the reality of an Engineer of the Americas.

All of us need to work toward the day when an engineer educated in any part of the Americas is equipped by language, knowledge, and accreditation to work anywhere in the Americas.

The U.S. National Science Foundation's mission is to always probe through the frontiers of knowledge in both science and engineering. From this vantage point, we can see across the boundaries of fields and disciplines. The connections become clear; the differences recede.

In that same way, all of us can step beyond our organizational boundaries to glimpse the larger picture of engineering education in the 21st century. We too will recognize the connections, and the differences will disappear.

I am confident that if we all work together we can take this beyond words to the deeds that will transform the concept of an engineer to meet the challenges of a new century.

Thank you for the opportunity to share some ideas with you today, and best wishes for a robust conference.

Return to a list of Dr. Bordogna's speeches.


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