Communicating the wonder of engineering crucial to advancing the enterprise

C. Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Reasearch Alliance (GRA) and cohost of the Atlanta regional dialogue talks about why telling the story of engineering is crucial to finnding solutions to the challenges of capacity, capability and competitivenes – the 3C’s.

How do organizations like the GRA raise the profile of engineers and the engineering enterprise?

GRA shares the story of engineering discovery, invention, and entrepreneurship at our universities, directly and through the communications of our partners. We’ve worked to bring the wonder and impact of engineering to life in online videos as well as speeches, newsletters and other communications. It takes good storytelling in engineering and science to capture the imagination of audiences, which is crucial to deepening appreciation and aspiration for those fields.

What do you think is the best way to enable the next generation of engineers with the capability to address 21st century challenges?

Nothing less than a multi-faceted effort is needed to reach future engineers. Even at a very early age, students must have opportunities to apply what they learn to real-life problems and work on projects across disciplines. They need extra-curricular experiences that enable them to build, invent, tinker and explore. We must also ensure that our teachers have the tools and know-how to make STEM learning interactive – give them the support to keep their students engaged.

How can gatherings like the NEF dialogues impact America’s competitiveness in a global economy?

Such dialogues are catalytic in nature, and we have to view their conclusion as a beginning, not an end. Since engineering is inherent in modern-day problem solving, the NEF dialogues add fuel to a larger conversation about our nation’s future and the well-being of humankind. They also point the way to the action steps we must take. As a result, the collective follow-up to the dialogues is just as important – we have to work to turn conversation into change.

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