The 2023 Engineering Change Lab – USA (ECL) Engineering Ideas Institute will examine the future of engineering through scenario thinking. Participants will develop several alternative futures that explore critical challenges facing society and then examine the role of the engineering community in these futures. Scenario thinking will help to build important strategic thinking skills.
- Learning to identify “signals of change” in the world that offer clues to the future.
- Recognizing future forces already in motion to take appropriate action today.
- Improving decision-making skills by creating “memories of the future.”
- Developing strategies to position engineering organizations and the engineering community to influence future events and to elevate our contributions to the inevitable challenges of the future.
Meet the Provocateurs
To increase knowledge, challenge assumptions, and stretch imaginations regarding the future, this year’s Institute programming will feature a set of provocateurs offering their perspectives on important signals of change and future forces.
- Rosalyn Berne, University of Virginia. Rosalyn teaches applied ethics at the UVA School of Engineering and is a researcher of and author about macro-ethics in engineering. Her work explores the intersecting realms of emerging technologies, science, fiction and myth, and between human and non-human worlds.
- Andrew Bochman, Idaho National Laboratory. Andy provides strategic guidance on topics at the intersection of grid security and climate resilience. He recently published a fictional scenario, “A Heat Dome Hits Virginia,” that portrays the national and global impacts of a prolonged extreme heat event in northern Virginia.
- Deb Chachra, Olin College of Engineering. Deb is an author and thought leader on how infrastructure shapes the world, equity and inclusion, and the intersection of technology and culture. Her new book, How Infrastructure Works: Inside the Systems That Shape Our World is due to be published this fall.
- Tom Hennes, Thinc Design. Tom, founder of Thinc Design, is one of the most sought-after exhibition designers in the world. He has designed a whole range of museums, visitor centers, zoos, aquaria, art installations and cultural attractions around the globe, including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.
- Alan Cheville, Bucknell University. Alan is a professor of electrical engineering and an ASEE Fellow. He is actively engaged in curriculum reform efforts and inquiries into major ethical issues and dilemmas confronting the engineering community. He recently authored the book, Becoming a Human Engineer: A Philosophical Inquiry into Engineering Education as Means or Ends.
- Martin Ryan. Service Now. Martin is a strategist with Service Now, a major player in the technology world and is a leading thinker related to responsible tech. He will address the future implications of the social/cultural aspects of AI and emerging digital technologies. He has been a strategic advisor to ECL-Canada.
- Athmika Senthilkumar, University of Chicago. Athmika spent three years in software engineering after graduation from Olin College of Engineering and is beginning a public policy master’s program at the University of Chicago. She is working at the intersection of technology and policy, understanding how social issues and policy impact engineering.
As preparation for the Engineering Ideas Institute, participants will be reading the book, Imaginable: How to Create a Hopeful Future, by Jane McGonigal. McGonigal is a futurist and game designer at the Institute for the Future and author of the New York Times bestsellers Reality is Broken and SuperBetter. Her approach to futuring includes a strong emphasis on the philosophy that each of us has agency to impact the future in a positive way. We are also encouraging participants to read the Global Risks Report 2023 from the World Economic Forum
Participants will have the opportunity to contribute to a pre-summit research effort. For this research, participants are invited to join a team of four to five Institute participants that will be convened to explore a specific topic related to Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, and Political (STEEP) trends. We will tap into the insights and knowledge gained through this research as the whole group moves through the scenario planning work during the Institute. This research activity is intended to engage participants in information-hunting and information-gathering outside of their normal specialties as a predecessor to doing futuring work.
As a follow-up to the Engineering Ideas Institute, ECL will also offer a virtual “train-the-facilitator” learning experience as a complement to the scenario planning work that participants will engage in during the Institute. The primary objective for this learning experience is to equip interested participants with knowledge and skills that will enable them to design and facilitate scenario planning processes within their own organizations and firms. Content will include:
- Reflections on and lessons learned from the Engineering Ideas Institute scenario planning experience;
- A game plan and template for scenario planning, following the design and process used for the Engineering Ideas Institute;
- Imagining how to deploy scenario planning in your own organizations and firms; and
- Facilitation strategies and interventions.
For this train-the-facilitator experience, participants will be asked to attend two three-hour virtual sessions scheduled 1 to 2 weeks apart. For more information regarding the train-the-facilitator experience, contact Mike McMeekin (firstname.lastname@example.org).Register for the 2023 Engineering Ideas Institute