Engineers Week is observed February 19 – 25. What does that mean to you, me and the other seven billion people on the planet? The world’s population is growing at the fastest pace in history so finding ways to provide for all of us requires innovative and creative ideas. Many of those ideas come from engineers.
Engineers Week is dedicated to recognizing how the work of engineers makes our lives easier, healthier, safer, more comfortable and fun.
Here are a few, close to home examples. Tennessee engineers were responsible for designing the SmartFIX40 project that greatly improved the flow of traffic through Knoxville on I-40. They have been involved in the various expansion and improvement projects at Thompson-Boling Arena that have made it the envy of other universities and colleges. Last year, two projects for the Knoxville Utilities Board won honors in the statewide Engineering Excellence Awards competition; one of those projects received the top prize, The Grand Iris Award. Projects in Maryville, Sevierville, Powell and Knoxville are entered in the 2012 competition. Historic Gay Street in downtown Knoxville has a new look thanks to the efforts of engineers. Engineers played an important role in the restoration of one of our city’s cultural treasures, the Tennessee Theatre.
The call goes out to Tennessee engineers to solve all kinds of problems. When there is a rock slide, a flood, or a site needs environmental remediation, engineers come up with solutions.
Really close to home, the work of engineers gets each of us through our day. Let’s start with the light switch on the lamp next to your bed; electrical engineers bring power to our homes and design the equipment that produces it. Chemical engineers develop the plastic for bristles on our tooth brushes. Engineers design systems that purify our tap water and fill our bathtubs, too.
Electronics engineers put together the circuits that allow us to listen to the radio. Not too many years ago, mechanical and electronics engineers gave us the technology we rely on to keep our food cold. Agricultural engineers figured out how to process the grains we eat.
How would we manage without the mechanical and automotive engineers who design our cars and trucks, and the civil engineers who design our highways and bridges?
Telecommunications engineers designed the telephones and mobile devices that have made a huge difference in our lives. Structural engineers design our buildings and mechanical engineers design the systems to heat and cool our homes and offices. The computers that are now so essential to our lives are the work of computer and software engineers.
Engineers Plan for the Future
This year’s theme for Engineers Week is 7 Billion and Counting: Dreams, Ideas and Actions to Change the World. It is a theme that points toward the future, a future that will designed by engineers-to-be — the students who are now in elementary, middle and high school. This is why engineers and their professional organizations applaud the increasing emphasis on STEM education – science, technology, engineering and math. They also help stimulate student interest in STEM subjects through a variety of activities in communities in Tennessee and across the nation. For example, the annual Tennessee MATHCOUNTS competition was March 17 in Nashville with student teams from Knoxville, Maryville, Oak Ridge and across the state participating. Engineers also sponsor competitions challenging students to design, build and operate robots.
The American Council of Engineering Companies of Tennessee also annually awards scholarships to students studying engineering in our state colleges and universities. Past scholarship winners have included a student at UT-Knoxville who was runner-up in the national competition and received an additional $3,000 scholarship.
Engineers are problem-solvers. Their knowledge, skills and creativity will be crucial in meeting the future needs of a world filled with 7 Billion and Counting.