If you're an engineer, I know that you remember your seventh and eighth grade science fair projects. I still break out in a cold sweat when I think about them -- the research, the deliverables, the presentations, and the judging inquisition.
All these memories came flooding back to me as I reviewed the project summaries for 38 state finalists on an airplane bound for Washington DC. I was doing my homework in preparation for judging the Best Water Resources Special Award category for the Future City competition held on President's Day as part of National Engineers Week. Bentley is a principal sponsor of this event. This participation is a reflection of the company's commitment to the sustainability of our engineering profession as expressed in the numerous Be Academic Programs initiatives.
I was joined in this adventure by my close colleague Tom Walski, Senior Advisory Product Manager for the Haestad Product line. Our challenge was to visit 38 table top displays in shotgun fashion, at 5 minute intervals. At each table we were treated to a presentation focused on our particular area of specialization, water resources.
Some of my observations:
This was a highly rewarding experience. Our pick was a home-schooled team from Arizona, who conceptualized a high-tech, water efficient Grecian locale in the Gulf of Corinth named Abundaqua. Tom and I, being old-school, were impressed with their spreadsheets and water-balance. That they collectively understood the concept of pressurized flow sealed the deal. This was a very impressive level of effort and commitment. Their parents should be proud.
Here is the winning entry from Veritas Home School team from Arizona.
Tom and I took a mad-dash through the future as envisioned by top-tier middle-school scholars across the country. This was a trip that took us from the deserts of the Sahara, to the bottom of the ocean, and, even, to the moon. Seriously, our kids seem to imagine living in these places some day! They dream of making it possible.
I think that this was the enduring impression. In these days of stimulus plans and bank failures, our next generation remains optimistic and excitedly anticipates engineering the future.
Somehow, I take solid comfort in that.