Major trends such as market needs and geopolitical events have influenced innovation in the last century. Drivers for changes have included the industrial revolution, the world wars, reconstruction and globalization. Chemical engineers have responded to these waves with significant innovations.
Today’s challenges include the crowded planet, where 2.7 billion people live on less than $4/day and cannot access electricity, clean water or sanitation. The demand for energy is growing, and the ways that energy is used will have to change. There are extensive environmental threats and inequalities of income and power (both within and between countries). Technology diffusion is occurring more rapidly. Chemical engineering as a profession will continue to morph as the engineers play important roles in these future challenges. The greatest challenges lie at the nexus of these global issues.
Insights form the speaker’s background will be provided on forming relationships and seeing connections, which are keys to address these challenges. Relationships are not just building communication between people, but also seeing the connections between data from various disciplines and coming up with integrated solutions to meet the needs of both. Additional competencies for “Tomorrow’s Engineer” include lifelong learning for a higher level of knowledge, a global perspective to business, and the ability to innovate. As Theodore Hook said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”