Newsletter: June 2017

AAES Chair's Message 

Dear AAES Member

Welcome to the second edition of the 2017 AAES newsletter!  I don’t know about you, but I found the April NAE-AAES topics and discussions to be timely and relevant. Similar to last year, the events in Washington, D.C. kicked off with the AAES Board of Directors (BOD) meeting, which was immediately followed by a joint BOD and Committee meeting. The BOD continued the strategic planning discussion, approved new audit and nominating committee appointments, reviewed UEF grant proposals and with Committee representatives discussed the progress of AAES Committee activities.

The annual NAE-AAES Convocation and Awards Banquet were again well attended. The morning session focused on the theme “Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems in Engineering – the Challenges and Opportunities of this Frontier” while the afternoon session specifically explored “Ethics and Autonomous Vehicles”. The rich discussions provided insights on the engineering applications of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, including the complexities, ethics and exciting possibilities for the future. (See Convocation story below.) Another highlight of the Convocation was an overview of the IMAX film, Dream Big, the available educational resources and candid commentary provided by young students that viewed the film. I was inspired to take a closer look at these materials and I encourage you to do the same. The NAE-AAES Convocation wrapped up with the annual Awards Banquet. Congratulations to all the 2017 award recipients. (See award winners story below.)

The April events concluded with the Engineering Public Policy Symposium and the General Assembly meeting. Similar to the Convocation discussions, the Public Policy Symposium was timely with the new administration and focus on the “skinny” R&D budget and potential implications on future R&D progress. (See Public Policy Symposium story below.) Discussions at the General Assembly meeting included updates on the Engineering Competency Model, Emerging Leaders Alliance, and from the Engineers Forum on Sustainability (see Sustainability Policy Statement story below) and Diversity and Inclusion Committees. The General Assembly meeting closed with further conversation on the strategic plan. As we continue work on the AAES strategic plan, I look forward to further broadening collaborations and promoting AAES’s vision and accomplishments throughout our Member Societies.



Alyse R. Stofer



April Convocation and Events in Review

On April 24-25, AAES hosted and participated in several important annual events: the National Academy of Engineering (NAE)-AAES Convocation of Professional Engineering Societies, the AAES Awards Banquet, and the Engineering Public Policy Symposium. The AAES Board and General Assembly also met. Please see below for event highlights.

2017 Convocation Considers Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems in Engineering

Artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems (AS) in engineering isn’t on the horizon. It’s already here.

The 2017 NAE-AAES Convocation of the Professional Engineering Societies explored that reality – the opportunities and potential challenges of AI and AS in engineering – April 24, in Washington, DC.

“If you look at some of the grand challenges we face in the 21st century, they are a direct outgrowth of the successes we had in the 20th century,” said Subra Suresh, D.Sc., President of Carnegie Mellon University, during his keynote address. “Are we smart enough to solve all the grand challenges? Or will we simply continue the same cycle of solving problems and creating new ones?”

The Convocation’s two panel discussions addressed those crucial questions.

The first panel, which explored AI and AS in a variety of disciplines, was moderated by Alan S. Brown, Associate Editor of Mechanical Engineering, ASME, and included:

  • Kevin A. Wise, Ph.D., Senior Technical Fellow at The Boeing Company
  • Michael C. Murphy, Chief Engineer in the Surface Mining and Technology Division for Caterpillar Inc.
  • James F. Davis, Ph.D., CTO/CIO, Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute at UCLA
  • John C. Havens, Executive Director, The IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems

​Wise outlined the history of autonomous systems in aircraft, while Murphy discussed the increased efficiencies it’s brought to the mining industry, and Davis looked at the business and manufacturing implications.

Havens’ presentation addressed the ethical dilemmas of autonomous technology in all industries: “There may be an assumption that engineers have not been focused on ethics from the day they started their work, which could not be further from the truth,” Havens said.

The key, Davis said, is to understand the data. Or as Havens put it: “How will machines know what we value if we don’t know ourselves?”

The afternoon panel discussion focused on ethics and autonomous vehicles, particularly cars, and included:

  • Jason Borenstein, Ph.D., Director of Graduate Research Ethics Programs at Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Joseph Herkert, D.Sc., Associate Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and Society at North Carolina State University and Advisor-NAE Center for Engineering Ethics and Society
  • J. Christian Gerdes, Ph.D., Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University
  • Joan Walker, Ph.D., Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Global Metropolitan Studies at University of California, Berkeley
  • Bryant Walker Smith, J.D., LL.M., Assistant Professor at the School of Law and (by courtesy) School of Engineering at University of South Carolina 

“We’re on the cusp of a transportation revolution really unseen since the advent of the airplane,” said Kodi Jean Verhalen, P.E., Esq., President of the National Society of Professional Engineers and moderator for the discussion.

Panelists agreed that ethical development, testing, and implementation of autonomous vehicles required analysis of the transit system and its components, not just vehicles. Borenstein and Herkert described the different levels of autonomy that can be made available in the system and the ethical questions those raise, as well as several principles that engineers can use to evaluate their work.  

Gerdes pointed out that engineers do not design to address the “Trolley Problem,” the dichotomous choice between swerving to kill one or staying on a course that will kill more, which has captured public imagination. Rather, design considerations must include how to promote safety so as to avoid such choices. Gerdes, too, talked about the importance of building in context, so it’s not a “What do I do when it’s too late?” scenario.

Walker pointed to the need for examining and finding ways to encourage changes in human behaviors if positive assumptions about the consequences of increased vehicle autonomy are to bear out.  

The question of what ethical considerations engineers should bring to bear as this technology advances was one that dominated the entire program.

“Yes, there’s a responsibility,” Smith said. “Developers of the system should be thinking about the broader social context, but the policymakers should be as well.”

To learn more about what was discussed at the Convocation, see the 2017 Convocation presentations, presenter bios, and archived webcast. 


2017 Convocation of Professional Engineering Societies, April 24, “Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems in Engineering – the Challenges and Opportunities of This Frontier” panel and moderator. From left to right: John Havens; James Davis, Ph.D.; Michael Murphy; Kevin Wise, Ph.D.; and Alan Brown.


AAES Honors 2017 Award Recipients

At the April 24 awards banquet, held in the rotunda of the NAE Building, AAES recognized seven exceptional engineers and other professionals for their notable achievements. AAES congratulates the recipients and thanks them for their leadership and notable achievements in their fields.

  • National Engineering Award – Mary M. Poulton, Ph.D.
  • John Fritz Medal – Frank Kreith, Doc.Univ.Paris, P.E.
  • Kenneth Andrew Roe Award – Vilas S. Mujumdar, D.P.A., P.E., S.E.
  • Norm Augustine Award – Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D.
  • Joan Hodges Queneau Palladium Medal – Jessica E. Kogel, Ph.D.
  • AAES Engineering Journalism Award – Mike Lindblom
  • Chair’s Award – James L. Melsa, Ph.D.

Award Winners from Left to Right: Vilas Mujumdar, D.P.A., P.E., S.E.; Mike Lindblom; Ainissa Ramirez, Ph.D.; Judith Kreith, on behalf of her father, Frank Kreith, Doc.Univ.Paris, P.E.; Jessica Kogel, Ph.D.; Mary Poulton, Ph.D.; James Melsa, Ph.D. Photo credit: Granted Photography

View information on the 2017 award winners and see photos from the banquet.

Nominations are invited for the 2018 awards; packets are DUE October 16, 2017. Visit AAES's awards page for more information, including a description of each award and the nomination form. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact


Public Policy Symposium Highlights U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness 

The 14th annual Engineering Public Policy Symposium (Symposium), entitled “Federal Investments for Engineering and Science to Spur Innovation and Competitiveness” was convened in Washington, DC on April 25. The lead sponsors were the United Engineering Foundation, ASME (Program Chair), AIChE, AIME, ASCE, and IEEE-USA.   

The Symposium forum encompasses 150 leaders — including presidents, president-elects and executive directors — from 44 engineering societies, representing more than two million engineers. Attendees heard from leading thought leaders, government officials, Congressional members, and staff from both sides of the aisle about policy priorities pertaining to federal investments in engineering and science to spur innovation and competitiveness which have a profound impact on the future of engineering and science. Read the full article.

Karen S. Pedersen (far left), President of IEEE-USA, introduces the “Federal Agencies: Research and Technologies” panel session during the Engineering Public Policy Symposium on April 25. Participating in the panel discussion were (foreground, left to right) moderator Thomas Loughlin, Executive Director of ASME, Philip Singerman of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Barry Johnson of the National Science Foundation, and Timothy Unruh of the U.S. Department of Energy. (Photo by Samantha Fijacko, ASME Government Relations).


Pack Your Travel Bag With STEM Outreach!

During your next trip abroad, participate in the State Department's Science Technology and Innovation Expert Partnership (STIEP) and inspire youth, including females and minorities, to pursue STEM careers. Learn more about how to get involved and help motivate the next generation of engineers to create solutions to shared global challenges.


Working Group/Program Committee News

AAES Adopts Sustainability Policy Statement

On April 25th, the AAES General Assembly adopted a sustainability policy statement brought forth by Heriberto Cabezas, chair of AAES’s sustainability committee, the Engineers Forum on Sustainability (EFS). The Sustainability Policy Statement constitutes an important step towards bringing the engineering profession together to speak on sustainability with a unified voice. AAES Member Societies are encouraged to review the AAES Sustainability Policy Statement for adoption as their own statement on this very important topic.



AAES Rep Participants in UN 2017 Commission on the Status of Women

In March of this year, Stacey DelVecchio, the AAES representative to the World Federation of Engineering Organizations’ (WFEO) Women in Engineering (WIE) Committee, had the opportunity to represent WFEO at the sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters. The priority theme of CSW61 was: women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. Conversations around the importance of girls and women in STEM and equal pay were key take-aways. Learn more about the event by reading DelVecchio’s full report.


UN STI Forum for the Sustainable Development Goals - IntAC Members Help Lead Side Event

AAES International Activities Committee (IntAC) members of the WFEO UN Relations Committee participated in the UN Second Multi Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum) and WFEO-led Side Event on Science, Engineering and Technology for Smart, Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements. The side event, conducted on May 15 at UN Headquarters, explored global urbanization as a challenge impacting all UN Sustainable Development Goals. Urbanization is a force to advance all aspects of the transition to sustainable development – social, economic and environmental. AAES IntAC members contributed with Reggie Vachon as moderator and Andy Reynolds and Bill Kelly as speakers. The event aimed to facilitate dialogue among relevant stakeholders about assembling and fostering stronger partnerships for delivering evidence-based guidance for smart and sustainable urbanization.

Opening Session of STI Forum, held May 15-16, 2017, at the UN, New York City. Photo courtesy of Bill Kelly.


Member Societies News

New NSPE Advocacy and Outreach Tools Available

NSPE has created three new advocacy and outreach tools for promoting professional engineers and the issues of importance to PEs and the engineering profession. The tools include a graphic explaining what a professional engineer is and does, suitable for use in outreach to any audience, and two advocacy specific tools that identify the top legislative and regulatory threats professional engineers are facing in 2017 and explain NSPE’s latest efforts to promote the PE and protect the public health, safety, and welfare. All of these tools are downloadable and printable, and NSPE encourages their use by our partner organizations. 


NSPE's PE Magazine Examines Barriers for Females and Minorities in Engineering

As the profession works to increase the numbers of females and minorities in engineering, issues that could hinder these efforts remain in the workplace—namely, sexual harassment and bias. PE magazine's May/June issue includes a special feature package examining these topics. The articles highlight existing and upcoming research and incorporate information from a survey of NSPE members. The issue also includes an article looking at Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which some believe could be a tool to open up engineering to more women. All three articles are open to the public.


NSPE Urges California to Revise Proposed Autonomous Vehicle Regulations

In a recent public comment, NSPE urged the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CDMV) to include major revisions to proposed autonomous vehicle (AV) regulations in order to ensure public safety. Recognizing the promise of autonomous vehicles, NSPE has been a leading advocate for the need to place the public health, safety, and welfare first and require a licensed professional engineer to play a key role in the development, testing, and safety certification of AVs. The Society is concerned by the CDMV's proposed regulations issued on March 10, which enable fully autonomous testing and deployment without requiring any third-party certification.


NSPE and Nevada Society Successfully Opposed Bill Threatening Licensure

In early April, Nevada Assembly members introduced a bill (A.B. 353) to loosen regulations and promote competition for occupations such as barbers or cosmetologists. The bill was introduced, however, without a clear understanding of how the public could be put at risk if licensing laws for PEs and other highly trained professionals are undermined. After learning on April 11 about a hearing to review the bill scheduled for the next day, NSPE and the Nevada Society of Professional Engineers took quick action, working together to release a joint response in three hours. Because of the opposition, the bill was dropped from the agenda of the Nevada Assembly Committee on Commerce and Labor.


Emerging Leaders Alliance to Host 10th Annual Leadership Conference

The Emerging Leaders Alliance (ELA) will be presenting their 2017 Leadership Training Conference, to be held November 5-8, 2017 at the Westin Tysons Corner in Falls Church, VA.  This year’s leadership training will include sessions on “Making the Transition from Technical to Management”, “Global and Virtual Team Leadership”, and “Innovation, Creativity, and Problem Solving”. Individual participation is $1,500 per person, and discounts are available for multiple attendees, sponsors, and new partner organizations.  For more information, view the ELA presentation from the April General Assembly meeting or contact Chris McKelvey at


E-Fest Season Closes with Successful Event in Tennessee

ASME wrapped up its inaugural series of Engineering Festivals (E-Fests) with a lively and action-packed event, E-Fest East, which was held last month at Tennessee Technological University. ASME’s three E-Fests, held at locations in India and the United States, featured prominent engineers and entrepreneurs who shared their experiences, expertise and advice with the engineering students attending the events.

Approximately 835 students from more than 80 colleges and universities attended the festival in Cookeville, Tennessee, located about 90 miles west of Nashville. Participants came from all parts of the United States as well as other countries including Canada, Colombia, Egypt, India, Mexico, Pakistan and Taiwan.

The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology team receiving their prize for first place overall in the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge at E-Fest East in Cookeville, Tenn. (Photos by Harrison McClary)


Three Teams Take Top Honors at ISHOW India

Eight teams of socially conscious inventors faced off at the recent ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) in Bengalaru, India, presenting their novel hardware-led innovations to a panel of judges from the global development field. At the end of the daylong event, three of the start-up companies — Saral Designs, Coeo Labs and Innovision — were named the winners of ISHOW India, which was the first of three ASME ISHOWs taking place this spring. 

The three grand-prize winners of ISHOW India, which took place April 27 at Le Méridien Bangalore, will share in more than $500,000 in cash prizes and in-kind technical support, including ISHOW’s extensive design and engineering review of their prototypes.


Share 2017 Infrastructure Report Card Grades with Your Community

Are you aware that America’s infrastructure received an overall grade of D+? Learn more by viewing the findings of ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card by category. You and your neighbors may not be civil engineers, but you live with the effects of heavy traffic, water main breaks, electrical disruptions, and lengthy airport delays. Help spread the word about the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure through your social networks by posting links from the Report Card to your social media channels. For inspiration, see an online social media toolkit with pre-drafted posts you can customize, plus plenty of visuals and videos to share.


Water Upgrade Wins 2017 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Project Award

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Emergency and Carryover Storage Project won the award for being resilient and providing safe, reliable drinking water service for 3.2 million residents in a region susceptible to drought and earthquakes. With more than 80 percent of its water supply coming from hundreds of miles away, the utility designed a complex water conveyance system composed of several large dams, reservoirs, pump stations, pipelines, and tunnels to ensure an uninterrupted and ample water supply for at least six months following a hazard event.


TMS Launches New Website

The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) has launched an updated, mobile-responsive website that makes it easier to find information on upcoming society events, to access member benefits, and to learn about TMS initiatives that impact the science and engineering communities. Explore the new site at


IEEE-USA Offers First Audio E-Book

Based on the popularity of its e-books, IEEE-USA is releasing its first audio e-book — Staying Sharp - Volume 1: Tips for Staying Sharp Inside Your Company which is free for a limited time.

Global competitiveness is unforgiving, and if not sharpened regularly, an engineer's skills can obsolesce quickly. At this time of rapid change and shifting corporate strategies, complacency can easily threaten an engineering career.

The first in a two-part series, Staying Sharp - Vol. 1: Tips for Staying Sharp Inside Your Company, provides more than a dozen proven strategies engineers can easily put to work on the job. For a limited time only, download this complimentary e-book from IEEE-USA.


Disaster Relief Founder, Big Data Pioneer Among IEEE-USA Award Winners 

On April 1st, IEEE-USA recognized 13 honorees for professionalism, technical achievement and literary contributions to public awareness and understanding of engineering in the United States. The awards ceremony took place at the Concord (North Carolina) Convention Center as part of IEEE SoutheastCon 2017. Mary Ellen Randall, founder and driving force behind the IEEE-USA MOVE Community Outreach Initiative, was honored with the George F. McClure Award. The MOVE Project offers a mobile emergency relief program committed to assisting victims of natural disasters with short-term communications, computer, and power solutions. In addition, Dr. Bruce Suter received the Harry Diamond Award “for contributions to the theory and practice of big data for aerospace systems.” The deadline for nominations for the 2017 IEEE-USA awards is September 9. 


ISA Delivers Advanced Industrial Cybersecurity Training at U.S. National Guard Exercise

ISA is building on its alliance with the U.S. National Guard to help America's cyber forces better prepare for and respond to industrial cyberattack on critical infrastructure, such as power and water-treatment plants, oil refineries and other vital industrial facilities.

ISA instructors recently provided advanced industrial cybersecurity training at Cyber Shield 2017, a national cyber-operations exercise designed to develop, train and test cyber-capable forces of the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and U.S. Army Reserve. (Read the articles published by the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System: Article 1 and Article 2.)


ASEE Focuses on Role of Professional Societies in Phase IV of Transforming Undergraduate Engineering Education

In April, ASEE invited individuals from professional societies and academia for discussions on the findings of three previous phases of the Transforming Undergraduate Education in Engineering (TUEE) project, funded by NSF. TUEE’s goal is to determine how engineering education should change and how it should remain the same to best meet challenges and opportunities. The Phase IV TUEE focus was to develop recommendations and suggestions leading to what role professional societies should play in changes in academic curricular/pedagogy and how professional societies can provide experiential learning opportunities, among other items. The project’s three previous phases involved industry perspectives on engineering graduates, student experiences, and enhancing female participation. 


50K Coalition Second Annual Convening

The 50K Coalition convened its second annual meeting on April 26 – 27, 2017 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  The 50K Coalition is a collective impact initiative whose goal is to graduate 50,000 underrepresented minority and women engineers annually by 2025. This represents a 66% increase over current graduation rates.

AAES joined 61 participants from 27 organizations representing engineering professional societies, diversity and inclusion societies/coalitions, and universities to learn about collective impact working group best practices. The key outcome of the convening was the formation of Action Network Groups (ANG). The ANG’s goal is to identify strategies and actions to support the 50K goal.

Photo of 50K Coalition Second Annual Meeting held April 26-27. Photo credit: Milton Lawrence Photography



Events and Items of Interest

2017 Global Grand Challenges Summit

The 3rd Global Grand Challenges Summit – a collaboration of the US National Academy of Engineering, the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, and Chinese Academy of Engineering – will be held July 18-20 in Washington, DC. Based on the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering, the series aims to spark global collaborations that lead to innovative ways of addressing critically important engineering goals and inspiring the next generation of change makers. Previous summits were held in London and Beijing. The DC Summit will focus on themes of sustainability, health, security, and joy of living, education, and public engagement.

Raising Awareness of Engineering Technology Education

NAE’s report on engineering technology (ET) education was featured in an informational briefing on Capitol Hill in early March. Several of the project’s committee members and two former ET students took part in the event. The NAE is featuring several ET-related articles in the summer issue of The Bridge, the Academy’s quarterly magazine, and the report will be discussed in a session at the ASEE annual conference in Columbus, Ohio on June 26. The report is generating considerable interest within the ET education community, based on the volume of email exchanges on ASEE’s Engineering Technology Division listserv. The report has been downloaded from the National Academies Press website over 3,000 times since February, putting it in the top 10 percent of all National Academies reports in terms of popularity.

2017 NAE Bernard M. Gordon Prize Winner

On May 30th the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) presented the 2017 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education to Dr. Julio M. Ottino during a ceremony at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Dr. Ottino, Dean of Northwestern’s Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is recognized for an educational paradigm that merges analytical, rational left-brain skills with creative, expansive right-brain skills to develop engineering leaders. Inaugurated in 2001, the NAE Gordon Prize recognizes new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders. The focus is on innovations such as curricular design, teaching methods, technology-enabled learning that strengthen students’ capabilities and desire to grow into leadership roles.