In order to maintain its technological leadership in the face of rapid globalization, the United States must educate its engineers how to generate new innovations at a faster pace. In order to accomplish this, we will have to (1) attract the brightest people to the science and engineering fields, (2) train them in the emerging fields where the ground-breaking innovations are likely to take place, and (3) skill them in the information technology tools that are central to creation of innovative products and systems.
The numerous Cyber-Infrastructure reports from the NSF over the past three (3) years have all lamented the fact that the type of inter-disciplinary engineer so desperately needed simply does not exist in adequate numbers. There are not enough educational intitiatives and programs to produce these new engineers, nor have the standard, stove-piped curriculas of engineering and computer science departments adapted to this need. Numerous reports from the National Academies and elsewhere echo these concerns, extensively documenting how these disciplinary boundaries continue to impede the innovation process by delaying the conversion of new ideas into innovative products [94, 4, 89, 5].
These problems are multifold. Engineers trained in a specific discipline find it difficult to assimilate the fundamental computing and information technology concepts needed in emerging areas of national need where there might be significant potential for growth. This limits the number of engineers available to work on emerg- ing problems of national importance. Furthermore, while information technology and computing is central to the creation of nearly all products and systems, the enterprise of developing digital representations and robust com- putational tools for design, modeling, simulation and analysis is still largely performed either by computer scien- tists who do not adequately understand the engineering domain or by engineers who are inadequately trained in computer science. The result is un-sharable representations, un-integratable systems and untested software tools of unknown accuracy and questionable reliability.
Traditionally, education and research in model building has been done in isolated fields—leading to advances in important, but relatively narrow, areas. The collaborative framework provided by this CI-Team will overcome the obstacles to bringing about true information-enabled and human-centric engineering. While other industries (financial, retail, digital entertainment) reap benefits and economies of scale from the information revolution, the manufacturing and engineering industries continue to lag behind. Nearly everyone is still locked into complex, proprietary software systems that, in the long run, possess intellectual property, encoded it in proprietary formats.
This CI-Team proposes a project that will demonstrate how to represent, simulate, archive, and reuse engi- neering knowledge in transformative ways. By sharing our results and experience, we hope to advance a new culture of Cyber-Engineering and contribute a valuable component to our nation’s shared Cyber-Infrastructure.