Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Chief Operating Officer
National Science Foundation
WFEO Capacity Building Committee Planning Meeting
National Academy of Engineering
June 30, 2004
Good morning. I know you are already deep into your deliberations and I'm
sure you had a productive day yesterday exploring how to promote capacity
building in underserved areas, and how to demonstrate the value of engineering.
Your objectives in "Engineering for a Better World" are nicely
- to strengthen human and institutional capacity in developing
and developed countries
- to promote engineering to young people
- to provide an interactive and catalytic role for the application
of engineering and technological resources to sustainable economic
and social development and poverty eradication
I'd like to reflect briefly on how these relate to NSF's vision.
We are know that engineers design and build society and civilization.
They carry forth the human intent for an era that lies ahead. It
is the engineer who conceptualizes the ideas for progress.
The world is on a fast clock of change, and engineering leadership
must recognize the directions of this change. We have an unusual
opportunity to educate for green design, for integrative thinking
and collaboration, for the effective use of resources, for the
interchange of cultures, and for capitalizing on new knowledge
at the frontier of science and engineering.
The 20th century has witnessed an explosion of knowledge and increased
specialization of academic pursuits. Paraphrasing the words of
the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, in his Mission of
the University, the need now to synthesize knowledge and connect
disciplines elicits a genius for integration from the future.
Mastering the integration of ideas and technologies will be the
clarion call for engineers in this century wherever they may practice.
Initiatives to respond include focused attention on disciplinary
interfaces where new knowledge is increasingly created, fresh coupling
with industry to exploit discovery, scholarly synergy between research
and teaching, and the recognition of engineering as an integrative
The implementation of ideas through new products, systems, and
services is the essence of engineering as a socially responsible
profession. Done well, the creation of shared wealth with a respect
for the quality of life is the result.
The ability to make connections among specialized areas of knowledge;
to understand relationships among seemingly disparate discoveries,
events, and trends; and to integrate them in ways that benefit
the world community will be the hallmarks of modern engineers.
In building capacity, our intellectual mission must include the
cultivation of each student's ability to bridge the boundaries
between disciplines and organizations and make the connections
that produce deeper insights.
And again in the context of Ortega, just as it is imperative to
reach across disciplinary boundaries to construct the whole, it
is equally important to integrate the intellectual and cultural
capabilities of the nations of the world. With this understanding,
we can recognize strengths to teach each other and capabilities
we can learn from each other. This is the way successful partnerships
The U.S. National Science Foundation's mission is to always probe
through the frontiers of knowledge in both science and engineering.
From this vantage point, we can see across the boundaries of fields
and disciplines. The connections become clear; the differences
In that same way, all of us can step beyond our organizational
boundaries to glimpse the larger picture of engineering leadership
in the 21st century. We too will recognize the connections, and
the differences will disappear.
I am confident that if we all work together we can take this beyond
words to the deeds that will transform the concept of an engineer
to meet the challenges of a new century.
Return to a list of Dr. Bordogna's speeches.