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April 20: Kerr Lecture

Expert to address global engineering for a small planet in Kerr Lecture

Bernard Amadei, professor at the University of Colorado, will deliver the 2017 Arnold D. Kerr Lecture in Engineering Mechanics and Design at the University of Delaware on April 20.

The lecture, “Global Engineering for a Small Planet: A Vision of Success,” will take place at 4 p.m. in Mitchell Hall, following a reception in the DuPont Hall lobby at 3 p.m.

For more information, contact Christine Murray by email at camurray@udel.edu or by phone at 302-831-2442.

Lecture abstract

In the next two decades, almost two billion additional people are expected to populate the Earth, 95 percent of them in developing or underdeveloped countries. This growth will create unprecedented demands for energy, food, land, water, transportation, materials, waste disposal, earth moving, health care, environmental cleanup, telecommunication and infrastructure.

The role of engineers will be critical in fulfilling those demands at various scales, ranging from remote small communities to large urban areas, and mostly in the developing world. A simple question arises: Do today’s engineering graduates and engineers have the skills and tools to address the global problems that our planet and humans are facing today or will be facing within the next 20 years?

Since the answer to that question is negative, and people cannot solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s tools and skills, a new epistemology of engineering practice and education is needed — one that is based on the idea of reflective and adaptive practice, system thinking, engagement, and a holistic approach to global problems.

This new form of engineering education and practice must be designed to cover a wide range of technical and non-technical issues in order to train global citizen engineers and whole persons capable of operating in a multi-cultural world. In navigating the first half of the 21st century, the engineering profession must embrace a new mission statement — to contribute to the building of a more sustainable, stable, and equitable world.

Speaker biography

Bernard Amadei is professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his doctorate in 1982 from the University of California at Berkeley.

Amadei holds the Mortenson Endowed Chair in Global Engineering and serves as a faculty co-director of the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities. He is also the founding president of Engineers Without Borders-USA and co-founder of the Engineers Without Borders-International network.

Among other distinctions, Amadei is a 2007 co-recipient of the Heinz Award for the Environment; recipient of the 2008 ENR Award of Excellence; recipient of the 2015 Washington and ASCE OPAL awards; recipient of the 2016 C. H. Dunn Award of the Construction Industry Institute; an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Construction; and an elected Senior Ashoka Fellow.

He holds five honorary doctoral degrees (University of Massachusetts Lowell, Carroll College, Clarkson, Drexel and Worcester Polytechnic Institute). In 2013 and 2014, Amadei served as a science envoy to Pakistan and Nepal for the U.S. Department of State. 

About the series

The Kerr Lecture Series honors Arnold D. Kerr, professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of Delaware. The series brings distinguished scientists and engineers to the University each year to speak on topics in engineering mechanics and design.

An endowment established in Kerr’s name upon his retirement in 2004 provides funds for the lectureship. 

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