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Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 21st Century?

February 9th, 2012

The National Academy of Engineering, in 2003, published A Century of Innovation: Twenty Engineering Achievements that Transformed our Lives, which showcased the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century.

Here are the top 20:

1.         Electrification
2.         Automobile
3.         Airplane
4.         Water Supply and Distribution
5.         Electronics
6.         Radio and Television
7.         Agricultural Mechanization
8.         Computers
9.         Telephone
10.       Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
11.       Highways
12.       Spacecraft
13.       Internet
14.       Imaging
15.       Household Appliances
16.       Health Technologies
17.       Petroleum and Petrochemical Technologies
18.       Laser and Fiber Optics
19.       Nuclear Technologies
20.       High-performance Materials

You’ll see that the benefits were largely universal, affecting people across the globe and at all economic levels. The technologies were diverse and depended on timely parallel accomplishments in science, mathematics and medicine.  And, the devices that enabled all these innovations were made in such quantity and quality that they were affordable and relatively universally available.

We can’t really know what engineers will achieve between now and 2101, but one engineer is willing to guess.

Inspired by the NAE’s book, engineer and Senior Intel Fellow Eugene S. Meieran, decided to make a list of predictions. Over the course of several years, he mentioned the list in presentations at universities, conferences, and industrial seminars, and took suggestions from other professionals.

Without further ado, here are the areas where Meieran believes the greatest achievements will happen in the next 88 years:

1. Energy conservation
2. Resource protection
3. Food and water production and distribution
4. Waste management
5. Education and learning
6. Medicine and prolonging life
7. Security and counter-terrorism
8. New technology
9. Genetics and cloning
10. Global communication
11. Traffic and population logistics
12. Knowledge sharing
13. Integrated electronic environment
14. Globalization
15. AI, interfaces and robotics
16. Weather prediction and control
17. Sustainable development
18. Entertainment
19. Space exploration
20. “Virtualization” and VR
21. Preservation of history
22. Preservation of species

What do you think? Is Meieran right on the money, or not even close?

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