Those of us at DOT are always concerned about how to leave our children and grandchildren a better American transportation network. One of the most essential ingredients of tomorrow's transportation system is a well-trained younger generation of engineers. And as the engineers who trained my generation are starting to retire, we must think about who we are leaving to solve the transportation challenges of the coming years.
Who will find more sustainable options for building roadways, railways and runways? And who will find new ways to measure safety, or design devices to enhance it? In essence, who are the engineers of tomorrow?
DOT's Engineers Day was established to encourage young people to consider a career in Engineering and to pursue courses in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). As Christopher Stone, President of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), illustrated in a rousing game of Jeopardy during his remarks, engineering describes everything from Aerospace Engineering to Ocean Engineering. It covers Agricultural, Chemical, Civil, Mechanical, and, of course, Transportation Engineers.
All engineering fields require the same thing: innovative individuals who are willing to work hard. As I said in my remarks last Thursday, innovation--like sports--is a game for young people. And America's young engineers have been great at harnessing their creativity and producing new solutions to old challenges.
At the end of the day, students presented their findings. Watching these young people talk about the data and research their group had produced was like looking into the future of Engineering. They had wonderful ideas, like implementing technology that would interrupt music and phone conversations at railroad crossings to keep pedestrians safe, and stressing the need to communicate and receive feedback when considering new regulations.
After Engineers Day, I can say with confidence that the roadways, railways, and runways of tomorrow will be designed and built by another talented generation, including some of the students I met last week and others like them across the nation.
With a few more years of education and experience, I know we'll be leaving our infrastructure in capable hands.