On Tuesday, May 24, Dr Asad Madni ’69, MS ’72, retired President, COO & CTO of BEI Technologies Inc, and current Distinguished Adjunct Professor/Distinguished Scientist at UCLA, spoke to a group of alumni, faculty, and students at UCLA.
There are numerous “Grand Challenges” facing humanity that must be addressed by us as a global society to maintain our quality of life, healthcare, environment, energy needs, manufacturing efficiencies, etc., if we are to continue humanity’s trajectory of progress. Traditional technologies based on classical disciplines and thought processes of the past several decades are no longer viable in addressing these challenges, and a new approach based on interdisciplinary thinking is necessary. Fortunately, numerous emerging technologies are advancing at an unimaginable rate; and it is the convergence of these technologies that demonstrate the potential to have a major impact on our lives, businesses, government, society and our planet. These emerging technologies are establishing the basis for a new paradigm in the development and commercialization of next generation intelligent, miniaturized, highly robust complex systems.
Prof Madni described some of these major technologies and their applications including, intelligent sensors and wireless sensor networks, intelligent cars and smart highways, tele-health (wireless healthcare), micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), nanotechnology, clean technology and the smart grid, robotics and automation, and advanced signal processing. He discussed examples of how these technologies are currently being used and potential future applications for them. In his presentation, he also referenced several UCLA research centers that are conducting breakthrough research in these fields, including the Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems (TANMS), the Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMGRC), the Wireless Health Institute (WHI).
In his concluding remarks, he stated that:
- Major technological breakthroughs will be interdisciplinary and occur at the fringes of classical disciplines, e.g., bio-nano-infotechnology.
- Engineers, scientists, and technologists will need to be trained with breadth as well as depth.
- Learning to work in teams will be of paramount importance.
- Verbal and written communication skills will be essential for success.
- Cost effective and efficient manufacturing techniques and processes will play a pivotal role in determining whether a technology is merely a laboratory curiosity or whether it can be commercialized.
- Technology will affect our future in unimaginable ways.
- The best way to predict the future is to invent it.