As 2020 comes to an end, all of us are reflecting on a year unlike any other in recent history.
• Early in the year, the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, more than 18 million Americans have been infected, over 300,000 Americans have died earlier than they should have, and our health care system has been strained to the breaking point. The pandemic has caused major loss of jobs and has had worldwide economic impacts that will be felt for years. There have been social and cultural impacts on the way we live and work. The greatest economic and social impacts have been absorbed by those with the least resources.
• In May, the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of the police triggered nationwide demonstrations and an awakening to the impacts of racial injustice, including recognition that systemic application of public policy has contributed to this injustice.
• We experienced another year of devastating impacts from extreme weather events, particularly wildfires and hurricanes, that were exacerbated by the continuing effects of long-term climate change.
• The 2020 election was unlike any other. Record numbers of Americans voted despite the pandemic. The election highlighted the sharp political polarities in our country and the dangerous impacts of conspiracy theories and misinformation spread using technology platforms.
• At the end of the year, we experienced a cyber-security attack that reached deep into multiple federal government agencies and infrastructure-related industries with still unknown impacts.
What has 2020 taught us about the future of engineering?