The space race is behind us, but the same inventive spirit is needed to overcome today’s challenges.
But we don’t celebrate more contemporary achievements like nanotechnology or fiber optics.
You could argue such technology is less tangible – but what could be more spectacular than potentially building an elevator made out of nanotubes from earth to into space?
Remember, at one time, putting a man on the moon seemed implausible.
Today, the focus is on sustainability and making products and technology that will spur on economic recovery. Three billion dollars have been invested in theNational Science Foundationalready this year. And the U.S. plans to put more money into science research than ever before.
This is encouraging. We need to take a long term view of how engineering fits into our lives – from education and training, to job creation. The US, like the UK, needs more science and math teachers. But we also need to renew interest in these vital and pioneering fields.
In the West, we encourage young people to go into finance or marketing because we see them as modern, successful professions. But in China and India, careers in engineering and science are revered because they are recognized as a source of true wealth and expertise. And hence the wealth of these counties is growing rapidly. We can spend billions of dollars to reignite engineering programs in the West, but without skilled workers to fill the jobs, we won’t see the benefits.