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Engineering Distinguished Lecture

Each Fall and Spring, the College of Engineering brings together experts to address a high-profile engineering topic. Established in 2009 by the Dean’s Advisory Council, the Engineering Distinguished Lecture series draws a wide audience of students, faculty, community members, alumni, and supporters. Over the years, the series has addressed such top-of-mind topics as: 

Preparing for an Unknown Future: Education and Employment in 2030

Fall Engineering LectureExpectations for higher education are rapidly changing. Students who’ve grown up with technology expect higher levels of interconnectedness. Employers expect universities will produce engineers equipped with the proper soft skills to work in a service economy, instead of in manufacturing. Employees expect to have more control over their careers, while at the same time automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics are eliminating jobs. In this environment, higher education must evolve or become extinct. The time is now to transform our educational systems to ensure we are preparing engineers to meet today’s (and tomorrow’s) workplace requirements. 

The panel included:

  • Mike Niggli ‘71, Chairman, ESS (Moderator)
  • Gaurav Bhattacharya, CEO and Co-founder, InvolveSoft 
  • Norm Eng, VP of Engineering, Palmdale Aircraft Integration, Northrop Grumman
  • Phil L. Mathews, Principal Director of People Acquisition, The Aerospace Corp.
  • Somjita Mitra, Director of the Institute for Applied Economics, L.A. Economic Development Corp.
  • Yannis C. Yortsos, Dean, USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Emerging Trends in Service Robotics

Advances in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and ubiquitous connectivity have fostered a rapidly growing market for service robots. Widely used in households and businesses (agriculture, hospitals, logistics, manufacturing), service robots are having a significant economic and social impact. Automation of tasks by robots promises to make many things faster and easier, potentially freeing up humans from repetitive or hazardous tasks, while also potentially displacing workers. Speakers include:

  • Rudy Duran, Director of Engineering, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Southern California Design Center
  • Rolando Saldana, Vice President, Qualcomm (moderator)
  • Bart Vermeer, Senior Manager of Terminal Automation, Moffatt & Nichol, and
  • Nicholas Wilde, Director of Automation Design, Applied Medical

Future of Aerospace in Southern California

Future of Aerospace in CaliforniaMarch 16, 2017

With full airplane assembly practically gone from California, there's little incentive for aerospace suppliers to stay in the region. Unless proactive measures are implemented, there's a strong possibility the exodus may continue. The region must create public-private partnerships as the basis for an ecosystem to support the revival of this industry. 

Renewable Energy Solutions: Batteries Not Included

Oct. 20, 2016

The amount of electrical energy derived from photovoltaic and wind sources varies with time, day of week, season, and even weather. Energy must be stored when production exceeds consumption, and returned to the grid when production falls below consumption. Large-scale electrical energy storage is the single most challenging issue that California faces as it moves toward more dependence on renewables.

  • Jennifer Didlo '02, Market Business Leader, AES Western Region (View presentation)
  • Josh Gerber, Manager of Advanced Technology Integration, San Diego Gas & Electric (View presentation)
  • Taison Tan, Technical Staff Senior Member, The Aerospace Corp. 
  • Moderator: Matt Petrime ’93, VP and GM, Applied Medical 

The Confluence of Arts and Engineering

March 22, 2016

As technology advances, arts and engineering are combining in new and surprising ways. From videogames that require software development, storytelling, and visual skills, to electronic music that's produced by both programmers and composers, the two disciplines are drawing closer. In today's networked society, it's even more important for artists and engineers to collaborate to create experiences that lead to intellectual growth and knowledge. 

  • Bill Ballew, Director of Research and Development, DreamWorks Animation
  • David Dearth, President, Applied Analysis and Technology (View presentation)
  • Ed Finn, Founding Director of the Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University (View presentation)
  • Moderator: Matt Petrime ’93, VP and GM, Applied Medical 

El Niño Engineering Challenges

October 22, 2015

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As a strong El Niño on record formed in the eastern Pacific Ocean, state officials prepared for a winter of potentially disastrous floods. Panel members discussed weather predictions, the current drought, and improved flood control since the El Niños of 1982-83 and 1997-98. 

  • Pamela Emch, Engineering Fellow, Northrop Grumman
  • Mark Jackson, Meteorologist in Charge, Oxnard National Weather Service office, NOAA
  • Russell H. Boudreau, PE, VP, Coastal Engineering, Moffatt & Nichol
  • Kevin Bryan, Senior Principal Geologist, Leighton Consulting
  • Moderator: Matt Petrime ’93, VP and GM, Applied Medical 

The Age of Drones and New Societal Concerns

April 23, 2015

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Not only has the military found practical and cost-effective use of autonomous aircraft, but commercial entitles such as Google and Amazon are looking at how drones can help their businesses. Add to that a whole host of civil applications such as police forces, security systems (including pipeline surveillance), and civilians flying quadracopters.

  • Chris Hernandez '81, VP, Advanced Systems Business and Advanced Systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
  • Michael E. Drobac, Executive Director, Small UAV Coalition, Senior Policy Advisor, Akin Gum Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • Paul J. Fraidenburgh, Attorney, BuchalterNemer
  • Kevin Hull, Manager, L.A. Aircraft Certification Office, Federal Aviation Administration
  • Moderator: Matt Petrime ’93, VP and GM, Applied Medical 

U.S. Manufacturing: Technologies for Recapturing Global Advancement

October 22, 2014

If the top 500 U.S.-based manufacturing companies were counted as an independent nation, their total revenue would rank them as the third’s largest economy in the world. Yet, the US manufacturing sector has experienced substantial job losses at an alarming rate. 

  • Said Hilal '72, '76, President and CEO, Applied Medical
  • Walter Kemmsies, Chief Economist, Moffatt & Nichol
  • Marc Madou, Chancellor's Professor, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine 
  • Moderator: Matt Petrime ’93, VP and GM, Applied Medical 

Reverse Engineering the Brain

April 24, 2014

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Human biologists, computer scientists and engineers are teaming to advance neuroscience toward achieving the NAE's Grand Challenge of understanding the brain. Comprehension of how the brain works will enable engineers to simulate its activities, leading to deeper insights about how and why it works and fails.

  • Roy Hamilton, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania
  • Mario F. Mendez, M.D., Director of Neurobehavior, VA Greater Los Angeles
  • David C. Lyon, '92, Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine 
  • Moderator: Nick Sramek, Senior Project Leader, The Aerospace Corp.

Engineering for the Body: Reproducing Body Functions

October 24, 2013

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Engineering has empowered numerous innovations in the field of medicine, including prostheses and transplants, nanotubes, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and genetic medicine. The applications are growing as their use increases and more physicians learn about expanding technologies. 

  • David Stout '10, Research Engineer, Brown University
  • Fred Burbank, M.D., Partner/Medical Director, Salt Creek Medical
  • Mike Jones '80, Partner/General Manager, Salt Creek Medical
  • Adam Young, Ph.D., Bioengineering Consultant, Cytograft Tissue Engineering
  • Patrick Ikehara, Senior Patent Counsel, Applied Medical
  • Moderator: Nick Sramek, Harbor Commissioner, Port of Long Beach

Bioengineering: Robotics and Medicine

April 15, 2013

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Engineering has become crucial to increasing human life expectancy. Nowadays, robots and automated devices are used for replacing missing limbs, performing delicate surgery, delivering rehabilitation therapy, and assisting with learning disabilities. 

  • Gary Johnson, President, Surgical Group Applied Medical
  • Howard Fried, Global Manager, Business & Product Development, CAE Healthcare
  • Daniel M. Bethencourt, M.D., Cardiac & Thoracic Surgery, Robotic & Minimally Invasive Specialist, MemorialCare
  • Mel Marks, M.D., Executive VP Research, MemorialCare Health System

California's Clean Transportation Future

October 25, 2012

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Clean and advanced transportation technologies are being developed, and with the right policies in place, California can become a global leader, and reap significant environmental and economic benefits.

  • Peter Greenwald, South Coast Air Quality Management District
  • Daniel Abraham, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Jeff Reed, San Diego Gas & Electric
  • Moderator: Nick Sramek, '72, '79, Harbor Commissioner, Port of Long Beach

The U.S. Energy Challenge

April 26, 2012

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American energy independence will be achieved when modes of transportation are powered by U.S.-made fuels. The nation needs a long-term policy that addresses environmental goals, health concerns, and the risk of supply disruption.

  • Ralph J. Moran, BP America
  • Gabriel Canto, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
  • Greg Wolfson, SVP and CTO, PsomasFMG
  • Moderator: Kent Peterson '86, VP and Chief Engineer, P2S Engineering

Smart Grid: How Smart Is It?

October 27, 2011

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The electric grid is running up against its limitations. Today’s system is 99.97 percent reliable, yet still allows for outages and interruptions that cost Americans at least $150 billion each year, about $500 for every man, woman, and child. 

  • Lee Krevat, Director of Smart Grid, San Diego Gas & Electric
  • Joe Dada, CEO, SmartLabs
  • Chuck D. Prescott, Program Manager, Boeing
  • Brad Gammons, VP Sales and Solutions, IBM Global Energy & Utilities
  • Moderator: Kent Peterson ’86, VP and Chief Engineer, P2S Engineering

Cybersecurity and You

April 27, 2011

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Our growing dependence on information technology has given rise to the need for greater protection of digital networks and infrastructures. The increased number of attacks on our cyber networks has become one of the most serious economic and national security threats we face. 

  • Andrea Hoy ’84, CEO, A. Hoy & Associates
  • Ronald Williams, CEO, Talon Companies
  • Roberta Gotfried, Director Engineering Learning and University Relations, Engineering Space and Airborne Systems, Raytheon
  • Moderator: Kent Peterson ’86, VP and Chief Engineer, P2S Engineering

California's Water Challenge

October 14, 2010

California has one of the most elaborate water delivery systems on the planet, supplied with giant pumps and thousands of miles of pipes and canals. The state’s world-renowned plumbing is now perilously stressed, forcing mandatory water restrictions for many residents. 

  • Kip Lipper, Chief Policy Advisor, Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment, Office of Sen. Darrell Steinberg
  • Scott Taylor '90, SVP of  RBF Consulting, Chair of California Stormwater Quality Association 
  • Stephen Arakawa, Manager of Bay-Delta Initiatives Program, Metropolitan Water District
  • Moderator: Kent Peterson ’86, VP and Chief Engineer, P2S Engineering

Sustainability of Our Planet

November 12, 2009

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With human population increases, natural ecosystems have declined and natural cycles changed. Sustainable use of natural resources will require a major collective effort and integration of economic, technological, social, and environmental concerns.

  • Nancy McFadden, SVP, Public Affairs, Pacific Gas and Electric
  • Matt Kestian, CTO, Southwest District
  • Braden R. Allenby, Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics; Professor of Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering; and of Law; Arizona State University
  • Moderator: Michael R. Niggli ’87, COO, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Gas Co.