New Field of Competition
At a joint U.S.-China workshop in 2011, Chinese Academy of Engineering President Zhou Ji spoke frankly of the challenge his country faced in deriving future growth from innovation. China, he said, “will have to cultivate and develop new industries of strategic importance and foster new sources of economic growth while taking innovation as a driving principle.” Fast-forward six years, and China has found at least one field in which to become a leading—if not the leading—player: artificial intelligence. Chinese research in AI has grown “exponentially,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in Washington, D.C. “Competition between U.S. and Chinese firms is only set to increase.” As Rebecca Kanthor reports in this month’s cover story, applications of AI are increasingly part of everyday life in China, whether in English-language training, e-commerce, hunting down trafficked children, or catching jaywalkers. One distinct Chinese advantage is its vast population, which offers a rich source of data for face- and voice-recognition software, as well as a market for new products. In 2012, when Prism wrote about the growth in research collaborations between Americans and Chinese, the oft-quoted rap on China was that its system didn’t encourage innovation. That’s changing.
China is one of many overseas markets for Coca-Cola, which relies on local bottlers around the world. We’ve long wondered how the company manages to sell beverages of uniform quality in places where supplies of fresh water are not only limited but possibly contaminated. Tom Grose looked into this, talking to experts at Coke and among its technology suppliers, and came up with some interesting answers in our feature, “Thirsty Giant.”
Also in this issue, read about how Bevlee Watford ignored warnings of damage to her career and pursued what she loved: finding ways for students—particularly women and minorities—to succeed when the odds were discouraging. A trailblazer who launched Virginia Tech’s minority engineering program (later the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity) in 1992, she has filled multiple leadership roles at ASEE and now holds the gavel as the Society’s 2017-18 president. Pierre Home-Douglas tells her story in “Mentor, Builder, Partner.” Watford’s first letter to members leads our ASEE Today section, where Executive Director Norman Fortenberry outlines a proposed change in the structure of the Board of Directors.
We hope you will enjoy this first of eight 2017-18 issues. Later this year, we’ll be publishing another “20 Under 40” special report, spotlighting particularly talented young engineering and engineering technology researchers and teachers. Please send us your nominations.