Last spring, the heaviest rainfall in decades caused fatal floods in Chile and landslides in Peru. A better ability to predict and mitigate such natural disasters is part of what Juan Carlos de la Llera, engineering dean at Chile’s Pontificia Universidad Católica, hopes will emerge from his country’s drive to revamp engineering education. As he told Tom Grose for our cover story this month, it will require researchers who can work at the intersection of engineering and other disciplines — in this case, geoscience. After looking at some of the best engineering schools in the United States and Europe, he knows that’s where engineering is headed. “You have to try to identify opportunities at those boundaries,” he says. De la Llera offers proof that research on disasters can go hand in hand with entrepreneurship — another goal of Chile New Engineering 2030. He himself built a successful company on technology to protect buildings from earthquakes.
If Chile succeeds, we’re likely to see more research collaboration, student exchanges, and maybe competition with U.S. schools. Already, it’s clear there’s a lot in common. In hoping more people will emulate de la Llera, Chile echoes one of the points made by ASEE President Joe Rencis, dean of engineering at Tennessee Tech: “We want graduates who not only get jobs but create jobs — young men and women who come up with new ideas and new companies.” A profile of Rencis by Pierre Home-Douglas underscores, as well, a driving principle of his career and of ASEE: It’s really all about the students. To learn about Rencis’s plans for this Society, read his President’s Letter in the ASEE Today section.
“The Little Engine Company That Could” might be an apt title of Mark Bocchetti’s feature. We don’t often write about individual companies, but this account of the fall and rise of Lycoming Engines offers a fascinating look at how a manufacturer can survive in the 21st century — even with a product line dating from 1929.
We hope you enjoy the September Prism. As always, we welcome your emails.