Puneet Varma (Editor)

National Academy of Engineering

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1964; 53 years ago (1964)

2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C., U.S. 20418

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is an American nonprofit, non-governmental organization. The National Academy of Engineering is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Research Council.


New members are elected by current members, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The election process for new members is conducted annually. The NAE is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the rest of the National Academies the role of advising the federal government. The NAE operates engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. The current president is Dr. C. Daniel Mote, Jr.


The academy was founded in 1964, 100 years after the congressional act that led to the founding of the National Academy of Sciences.


Nomination for membership can only be done by a current member of the NAE for outstanding engineers with identifiable contributions or accomplishments in one or both of the following categories:

  • Engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature.
  • Pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.
  • Though the average age of members is over 70, some members have been elected at a relatively young age, the youngest being Google co-founder Larry Page, who was elected in 2004 at the age of 31. The membership of the NAE includes many notable people – essentially by definition, as the election to membership in the NAE is among the highest forms of recognition of notable accomplishments in engineering.

    Program areas

  • Grand Challenges for Engineering
  • In February 2008 the NAE announced a list of 14 "grand" challenges for engineering in the next century. The NAE convened a committee of experts in engineering, science, and technology to form this list. The committee convened over the course of several months and took input from public comments made on the project website as well as opinions from experts external to the committee.

    On October 6, 2008 at the NAE annual meeting, a public symposium was held where several members of the committee spoke publicly about the challenges. Following this event, a print version of the Grand Challenges website was made available online at the site.

    Members of the public voted on the challenges in rank order of importance, and as of the close of voting on June 30, 2008, the results of the top votes for the 14 challenges are as follows: (poll rankings)

    1. Make solar energy economical
    2. Provide energy from fusion
    3. Provide access to clean water
    4. Reverse-engineer the brain
    5. Advance personalized learning
  • Frontiers of Engineering
  • The Frontiers of Engineering program assembles a group of emerging engineering leaders - usually aged 30–45 - to discuss cutting-edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors. The goal of the meetings is to bring participants together to collaborate, network, and share ideas. There are three Frontiers of Engineering meetings every year: the U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, the German-American Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, and the Japan-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium. The Indo-U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium is held every other year.

  • Diversity in the Engineering Workplace
  • The goal of the diversity office is to participate in studies addressing the issue of increasing and broadening a domestic talent pool. Through this effort the NAE convenes workshops, coordinators with other organizations, and identifies program needs and opportunities for improvement.

    As part of this effort the NAE has launched both the EngineerGirl! and Engineer Your Life webpages.

  • The Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education
  • The Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education. works to advance engineering education in the United States, aiming for curriculum changes that address the needs of new generations of engineering students and the unique problems they will face with the challenges of the 21st century.

    The Center works closely with the Committee on Engineering Education, which works to improve the quality of engineering education by providing advice to policy makers, administrators, employers, and other stakeholders.

  • Engineering, Economics, and Society
  • This program area studies connections between engineering, technology, and the economic performance of the United States. Efforts aim to advance the understanding of engineering's contribution to the sectors of the domestic economy and to learn where engineering may enhance economic performance.

  • Technological Literacy/K-12 education
  • The goal of this project is to provide advice regarding the creation and implementation of engineering curricula at the school-age level. The project also hopes to inform instructional practices, particularly dealing with the connections among science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

    The project also aims to investigate the best ways to determine levels of technological literacy in the United States among three distinct populations in the United States: K-12 students, K-12 teachers, and out-of-school adults. A report (and associated website), Technically Speaking, explains what "technological literacy" is, why it’s important, and what is being done in the U.S. to improve it.

  • Center for Engineering, Ethics, and Society
  • The Center for Engineering, Ethics, and Society seeks to engage engineers and the engineering profession in identiftying and resolving ethical issues in associated with engineering research and practice. The Center works is closely linked with the Online Ethics Center.

  • Engineering and the Environment
  • This program, recognizing that the engineering profession has often been associated with causing environmental harm, looks to recognize and publicize that the profession is now at the forefront of mitigating negative environmental impacts. The program will provide policy guidance to government, the private sector, and the public on ways to create a more environmentally sustainable future.

    Outreach efforts

    To publicize the work of both the profession and the NAE, the institution puts considerable efforts into outreach activities.

    A weekly radio spot produced by the NAE is broadcast on WTOP radio in the Washington, DC area and the file and text of the spot can be found on the NAE site. The NAE also distributes a biweekly newsletter focusing on engineering issues and advancements.

    In addition, NAE has held a series of workshops titled News and Terrorism: Communicating in a Crisis, in which experts from the National Academies and elsewhere provide reporters, state and local public information officers, emergency managers, and representatives from the public sector with important information about weapons of mass destruction and their impact. This project is conducted in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation.

    In addition to these efforts the NAE fosters good relationships with members of the media to ensure coverage of the work of the institution and to serve as a resource for the media to use when they have technical questions or would like to speak to an NAE member on a particular matter. The NAE is also active in "social media," both to reach new and younger audiences and to reach traditional audiences in new ways.


    Formally, "members" of the NAE must be U.S. citizens. The term "foreign associate" is applied to non-citizens who are elected to the NAE. "The NAE has more than 2,000 peer-elected members and foreign associates, senior professionals in business, academia, and government who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers", according to the NAE site's About page. Election to the NAE is considered to be among the highest recognitions in engineering-related fields, and it often comes as a recognition of a lifetime's worth of accomplishments.


    The Academy annually awards three prizes, with each recipient receiving $500,000. The three prizes are the Bernard M. Gordon Prize, the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize, and the Charles Stark Draper Prize. They are sometimes referred to collectively as the American version of a Nobel Prize for engineering.

    Gordon Prize

    The Bernard M. Gordon Prize was started in 2001 by the NAE. It is named after Bernard Marshall Gordon, the founder of Analogic Corporation. Its purpose is to recognize leaders in academia for the development of new educational approaches to engineering. Each year, the Gordon Prize awards $500,000 to the grantee, of which the recipient may personally use $250,000, and his or her institution receives $250,000 for the ongoing support of academic development.

  • 2016 Diran Apelian, Arthur C. Heinricher, Richard F. Vaz and Kristin K. Wobbe for a project-based engineering curriculum developing leadership, innovative problem solving, interdisciplinary collaboration and global competencies.
  • 2015 Simon Pitts and Michael B. Silevitch for developing an innovative method to provide graduate engineers with the necessary personal skills to become effective engineering leaders.
  • 2014 John P. Collier, Robert J. Graves, Joseph J. Helble and Charles E. Hutchinson for creating an integrated program in engineering innovation from undergraduate through doctorate to prepare students for engineering leadership.
  • 2013 Sherra E. Kerns, David V. Kerns Jr., and Richard K. Miller for guiding the creation of Olin College and its student-centered approach to developing effective engineering leaders.
  • 2012 Clive L. Dym, M. Mack Gilkeson and J. Richard Phillips for creating and disseminating innovations in undergraduate engineering design education to develop engineering leaders.
  • 2011 Edward F. Crawley for leadership, creativity, and energy in defining and guiding the CDIO (Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate) Initiative, which has been widely adopted internationally for engineering education.
  • 2009 Thomas H. Byers and Tina Seelig for pioneering, continually developing, and tirelessly disseminating technology entrepreneurship education resources for engineering students and educators around the world. (STVP Program at Stanford University)
  • 2008 Jacquelyn F. Sullivan and Lawrence E. Carlson for the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program that infuses hands-on learning throughout K-16 engineering education to motivate and prepare tomorrow's engineering leaders.
  • 2007 Arthur W. Winston, Harold S. Goldberg, and Jerome E. Levy for innovation in engineering and technology education. They were founders and lecturers at the Gordon Institute during its early years at Tufts University.
  • 2006 Jens E. Jorgensen, John S. Lamancusa, Lueny Morell, Allen L. Soyster, and Jose Zayas-Castro, for creating the Learning Factory, where multidisciplinary student teams develop engineering leadership skills by working with industry to solve real-world problems.
  • 2005 Edward J. Coyle, Leah H. Jamieson and William C. Oakes for innovations in the education of tomorrow's engineering leaders by developing and disseminating the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program.
  • 2004 Frank S. Barnes for pioneering an Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program (ITP) that produces leaders who bridge engineering, social sciences, and public policy.
  • 2002: Eli Fromm for innovation that combines technical, societal, and experiential learning into an integrated undergraduate engineering curriculum.
  • The NAE's website shows that no Gordon Prize] was awarded in 2010.

    Russ Prize

    The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize is an American national and international award established by the NAE in October 1999 in Athens, Ohio. Named after Fritz Russ, the founder of Systems Research Laboratories, and his wife Dolores Russ, it recognizes engineering achievement that "has had a significant impact on society and has contributed to the advancement of the human condition through widespread use." The award was instigated at the request of Ohio University to honor Fritz Russ, one of its alumni.

    Charles Stark Draper Prize

    The NAE annually awards the Charles Stark Draper Prize, which is given for the advancement of engineering and the education of the public about engineering. The winner of this prize receives $500,000. The Draper prize is named for Charles S. Draper, the "father of inertial navigation", an MIT professor and founder of the Draper Laboratory.

  • 1989: Jack S. Kilby and Robert N. Noyce for their independent development of the monolithic integrated circuit.
  • 1991: Sir Frank Whittle and Hans von Ohain for their independent development of the turbojet engine.
  • 1993: John Backus for his development of FORTRAN, the first widely used, general purpose, high-level computer language.
  • 1995: John R. Pierce and Harold A. Rosen for their development of communication satellite technology.
  • 1997: Vladimir Haensel for his invention of "platforming".
  • 1999: Charles K. Kao, Robert D. Maurer, and John B. MacChesney for the development of fiber optics.
  • 2001: Vinton G. Cerf, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, and Lawrence G. Roberts for the development of the Internet.
  • 2002: Robert Langer for the bioengineering of revolutionary medical drug delivery systems.
  • 2003: Ivan A. Getting and Bradford W. Parkinson for their work developing the Global Positioning System.
  • 2004: Alan C. Kay, Butler W. Lampson, Robert W. Taylor, and Charles P. Thacker for their work on Alto, the first practical networked computer.
  • 2005: Minoru S. "Sam" Araki, Francis J. Madden, Edward A. Miller, James W. Plummer and Don H. Schoessler for the design, development, and operation of Corona, the first space-based Earth observation systems.
  • 2006: Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith for the invention of the Charge-Coupled Device (CCD), a light-sensitive component at the heart of digital cameras and other widely used imaging technologies.
  • 2007: Tim Berners-Lee for developing the World Wide Web.
  • 2008: Rudolf E. Kalman for developing the Kalman filter.
  • 2009: Robert H. Dennard for his invention and contributions to the development of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), used universally in computers and other data processing and communication systems.
  • 2011: Frances H. Arnold and Willem P.C. Stemmer for their individual contributions to directed evolution, a process which allows researchers to guide the creation of certain properties in proteins and cells. This technique has been used in food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, toxicology, agricultural products, gene delivery systems, laundry aids, and biofuels
  • 2012: George H. Heilmeier, Wolfgang Helfrich, Martin Schadt, and T Peter Brody for their contributions to the development of liquid crystal display (LCD) technologies
  • 2013: Thomas Haug, Martin Cooper, Yoshihisa Okumura (奥村 善久), Richard H. Frenkiel, and Joel S. Engel, mobile phone pioneers who laid the groundwork for today’s smartphone
  • References

    National Academy of Engineering Wikipedia

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