By Bonnie Dickson
On Nov. 16-18, the UC Davis College of Engineering hosted more than 60 engineers from the U.S. and European Union for the National Academy of Engineering’s 2017 Frontiers of Engineering symposium.
The goal of the symposium was to facilitate an interdisciplinary transfer of research, ideas and methodologies between outstanding early-career American and European engineers under the age of 45 from industry, universities and other research institutions.
Diversity in engineering for better outcomes
In his remarks during the first day of the symposium, UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May, an electrical engineer, praised College of Engineering Dean Jennifer Curtis for bringing the transatlantic meeting to Davis. May also highlighted the university’s commitment to environmental sustainability and the importance of increasing diversity in engineering to accelerate innovation.
“I champion diversity not only for the sake of social equity, or because it’s the right thing to do,” May said. “I also promote it because it gives us better outcomes.”
Curtis echoed the chancellor’s support of diversity in engineering education at UC Davis.
“The College of Engineering continues to make our environment welcoming and supporting to women and underrepresented students, and our unwavering dedication to student success and diversity sets us apart from other large, public institutions of higher education,” she said.
Space travel, neuroengineering, coffee
Researchers and engineers from both academia and industry discussed cutting-edge developments related to technologies for space exploration, next-generation solar cells, neuroengineering and computational imaging during the meeting.
Highlights of the symposium’s first day included a presentation by William Pomerantz, vice president of special projects for Virgin Orbit, on the democratization of space and the company’s developments in commercial space travel. Pomerantz detailed the engineering approaches behind Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne program, which uses a Boeing 747-400 to launch a small, low-Earth orbit satellite. The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced it will partner with Virgin Orbit on the launch of their experimental satellites as early as January 2019.
UC Davis mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Sanjay Joshi co-chaired the neuroengineering technical session, which included presentations and discussions on neural signal measurement and processing, neural implant design, clinical applications and the future of neuroengineering development and commercialization. Joshi directs the Robotics, Autonomous Systems and Controls Laboratory at UC Davis, where he conducts research related to the building of assistive devices that are controlled by natural electrical signals from the human body.
After two days of intensive technical sessions, symposium attendees were invited to tour the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Sciences, the Engineering Student Design Center and the UC Davis Coffee Laboratory.
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. The NAE has more than 2,000 peer-elected members, senior professionals in business, academia and government who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers. Twelve faculty in the UC Davis College of Engineering are NAE members.
The EU-US Frontiers of Engineering symposium is held once every three years and is the newest NAE Frontiers program. The symposium is hosted in partnership with the European Council of Academies of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering.
Bonnie Dickson is a writer with the UC Davis College of Engineering.