The Global Engineering Deans Council’s vision is to enhance the capabilities of engineering deans to transform their institutions in support of societies in a global economy. Its mission is to serve as a global network of engineering deans, and to leverage on the collective strengths, for the advancement of engineering education, research, and knowledge translation to society. This network includes over 500 leaders and stakeholders representing over 40 countries from all continents.

At the GEDC 2019 Conference in Santiago, Chile, we will bring together engineering leaders from all over the world to address the way this discipline can make a meaningful impact in our societies. The conference overarching theme is ”Engineering minds, hearts and hands: Impact with a purpose”. A special emphasis will be on the integration of more comprehensive views of knowledge ranging from the humanities and social sciences to our more conventional approaches in the natural sciences and engineering.

The conference will facilitate important discussions through workshops and plenary sessions regarding three main subjects, which are all interdependent:

Transforming society through engineering

Although the role of engineering in human history has been large and decisive, one can confidently say that it will be even larger in the future. Everything is currently being transformed by technology, and in most cases, positively transformed. However, since engineers are by design- trained and prepared to imagine, propose, and implement significant changes in our living conditions, it is critical that such development comes with a more comprehensive understanding of the current dynamics of society, which are becoming in most cases quite challenging. To transform our society in positive terms, engineering and engineers must develop and master other languages beyond those of science and technology. More inclusive languages that care about the wellbeing of people and the public good. Indeed, our true metric of success is no other than generate impact by transferring our limited resources from less valued human activities into others of greater value for people and society. Engineering has a great responsibility in this well- known creative destruction process through advancing research and innovation in relevant areas to address local, regional, and global concerns. A special focus in this GEDC conferece will be placed from an engineering standpoint in interdisciplinary challenges of sustainability critical to Latinamerica and elsewhere, such as resilience to natural hazards, health, energy, water, and food.

Talent diversity for a better engineering

For a discipline historically considered to attract the best human talent in math, science, and technology, it seems relevant to discuss how to project a promising future for engineering by attracting also talents that have not being the usual student profile characterized by the brilliant performer in standarized tests and other highly selected mechanisms. Although we are all part (and sometimes proud) of this historical selection process, there is little doubt that more diversity will imply more talent within our schools. The gender issue, an endemic concern in the admission of most engineering, math, and science schools in the world, leads finally to a fatal disadvantage for most STEM disciplines. Larger diversity in engineering schools, with no name attached to it, is an urgent need to remain as a discipline that attracts the best of human talent. We would like to see that the focus of the GEDC discussion includes of course the motivation and hurdles of women into STEM careers, but also involves a more precise definition of the talent we should be looking for today in our engineering schools. A natural first step is to improve effective inclusion mechanisms to attract students from different cultural, geographical, socioeconomic backgrounds and help them become succesful. However, another relevant question is to identify what type of talent will be required soon in engineering in addition to the highly praised stereotype of the fast deductive thinker. The revolution of new engineering disciplines to respond to varios human interests and concerns will also shape these new requirements for engineering talent, and we would like to anticipate this future discussion in the society during GEDC 2019.

Courageous entrepreneurial engineers

How prepared are our engineering schools to educate new engineers that are corageous enough to think differently and dare to challenge the limits of knowledge, technology, and society in general?. Do our internal curricular and incentive structures favor this kind of thinking, attitude, and skills?. Being an engineer is different depending upon the cultural, economical, geopolitical, and social contexts we all live in, but there is no question on how important it has been for society in general the entrepreneurial minds of engineers who continoulsy attempted to push the limits of human imagination and capacities throughout history. Is the academic rigor of our discipline in opposition to fostering the entrepreneurial skills of our students?, can we do both?. Entrepreneurs need to deal constantly with uncertainty, be able to take some risks, chase their big dreams, develop numerous leadership skills, think out of the box, combine continuously both hemispheres of the brain, reiteratively fail and in the process become resilient. Because of that they are a great example to others also in the higher education process. Societies, and universities, have completely overlooked the power and role of students while in the process of their education as agents of change to their own schools and society. It is a period in which their minds are literally exploding in capacity, creativity, will, and a fertile ground to plant the seeds of a corageous attitude toward life in general, but primarily engineering practice. Engineering students can truly change the world in many ways, they do not need to wait too much to do it. This topic in GEDC 2019 is to discuss how can we encourage them to think big, find the inspiration to aim high in understanding and solving global concerns, and get involved at a young age with the public good.