A year ago, when we started talking about how to celebrate our 50th anniversary, we all agreed that it should not be about usthe people who bring you this magazine and its associated website, newsletters, supplements, etc. Rather, we imagined a celebration of the microwave industry, its technology, and its people. In a special anniversary issue, it is of course logical (and necessary) to look backward. But we decided it also was crucial to look into the industry's future by including some articles on key applications that will push microwave technology to the next level.
While the editors focused on exploring the technology roadmap, I was consumed with how we would continue to provide critical (i.e., useful) information to you in the coming years. There are no shortage of choices in today's media: traditional (magazines, events, and books); digital (websites, digital delivery, webcast, etc.); and next-generation (e-paper, mobile, and social media). No matter what form media has taken, however, our goal has always been to give our readers the information that they need. For today's engineer, we know those preferences are currently evolving. As for the next generation of engineers, their favorite choices are probably only concepts at this point!
As mysterious as the work habits of those future microwave engineers are, so too are their origins. Quite simply, we are looking down a scary precipice if the number of students pursuing engineering does not increase. At an Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA) meeting last month, a critical theme of the program was the challenge of the future. But the subject was people rather than technology or media. The question posed was: How are we going to thrive as an industry when we're not turning out enough new engineers?
This topic was echoed by keynote speaker Dean Kamen, Founder of DEKA Research and Development. At the request of the conference, he spoke to us about the many revolutionary products that he has designedfrom his early works in the '70s, which included the AutoSyringe (a portable insulin-delivery pump)to his more glamorous SEGWAY and his next-generation DEKA arm, which restores functionality to individuals with extreme amputations. Yet Kamen emphasized that he only agrees to such speaking engagements begrudgingly, as his real passion is "to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders."
Despite all of his accomplishments, Kamen is most proud of founding FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology; www.usfirst.org). That organization is dedicated to motivating the next generation to understand, use, and enjoy science and technology. In the process, it must largely go "against the grain" of popular culture. As Kamen says, "You have teenagers thinking they're going to make millions as NBA stars when that's not realistic for even 1% of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is."
To make that option alluring, those young people need to understand how "cool" engineering is. Engineers are heroes to many people, as their work impacts and improves daily lives through always-available communications, medical innovations, and more. Dean Kamen is just one person who is getting that word out to today's young people. Large engineering firms, defense contractors, and others also are funding and building programs that urge young people to become more involved in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
With the great efforts of these advocates, we should be able to look forward to a future filled with bright young engineers. To help these efforts, Microwaves & RF is pursuing opportunities to work more closely with colleges, student organizations, and more. We also will continue to serve the microwave and RF industry by delivering information and resources that enable engineers to further their studies, stay up to date, and handle daily design tasksin whatever form they may take. We look forward to serving you for another 50 years and beyond.