CE's Tien Invited to National Academy Frontiers in Engineering Symposium

October 30, 2018


The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Iris Tien has just returned from two days of meetings and idea-sharing with some of the nation’s most promising young engineers.

Organized by the National Academy of Engineering, the Frontiers of Engineering symposium gathers what the academy calls “exceptional” engineers from 30 to 45 years old to facilitate “cross-disciplinary exchange and promote the transfer of new techniques and approaches across fields in order to sustain and build U.S. innovative capacity.” 

This year's US Frontiers of Engineering was hosted by MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts. About 100 outstanding early career engineers met for an intensive 2-1/2 day symposium to discuss cutting-edge developments in four areas: Quantum Computers, the Role of Engineering in the Face of Conflict and Disaster, Resilient and Reliable Infrastructure, and Theranostics. 

It’s a highly competitive and prestigious invitation extended to fewer than 100 people this year, according to the academy. It’s also the second consecutive year Tien has participated in the meeting; for 2018, she helped organize the session on resilient and reliable infrastructure. Invited participants for 2018 included three other early career professors from Georgia Tech, as well as rising stars from companies like Medtronic, Microsoft and General Motors.

This is the second Frontiers symposium Tien has attended this year; she attended the Japan-America Frontiers of Engineering earlier this summer.

The 2018 Japan-America Frontiers of Engineering symposium invited 60 early career engineers for two days of intensive conversations about emerging technology in water treatment, bionics and prosthetics, smart structures and materials, and advanced artificial intelligence.

“It was a great opportunity to bridge across the two countries and see how Japanese and American researchers approach common research challenges,” said Tien, an assistant professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She said the conversations allowed the group “to explore how different approaches — e.g., machine learning and systems-level analyses — apply across areas of engineering.”

The Japan-America Frontiers meeting is a cooperative effort of the National Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Academy of Japan. This is the third time Tien has been invited to one of the prestigious Frontiers gatherings, which are designed to promote international collaboration, transfer of techniques among disciplines, and create new ideas.

Last year, she went to the U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium, and she traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2015 for the Arab-American spinoff that focuses on science, engineering and medicine.

She’ll continue to contribute to the Frontiers-led conversations later this year, when she returns to the original stateside symposium to organize a session on resilient and reliable infrastructure.


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