Multidisciplinary Teams Provide Success

My compliments to ENR for recognizing Bernard Amadei’s contribution to engineering pedagogy by plugging one hole in the education of the next generation of engineers with the creation of Engineers Without Borders-USA. The juxtaposition of EWB-USA’s story with Pat Galloway’s dialogue on the broad definition of what the 21st century will demand from the engineer-as-leader supports your selection of Bernard Amadei as this year’s Award of Excellence winner.

However, one important contribution of EWB-USA that addresses both Bernard’s and Pat’s messages was not covered. Engineers in the Tufts University EWB program learned in their first assignment that brilliant engineering fails when designed without societal context. Reaching out to their liberal arts colleagues in sociology, anthropology, economics and the Fletcher School allowed greater success for their projects and, more significantly, an understanding that real solutions require multidisciplinary teams.

As a result, the Tufts EWB team that left for Tibet was composed of 50% engineers and 50% liberal arts majors; faculty advisers reflected this same ratio, and now the Tufts EWB chapter flourishes with the joint support of the School of Engineering and the Institute for Global Leadership. Thanks to EWB-USA, Tufts University is better able to train its engineers for service.

Fredric S Berger, P.E.
The Louis Berger Group Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Not So Fast

Both the headline and the opening statement are incorrect. Perry criticized the stimulus bill on principle from day one. There has been no change in his attitude. Nearly all Texans agree with him. Foolishly spending federal money at the expense of our grandchildren will not accelerate the economic recovery.

Perry never stated he will not accept some federal money. He stated—and has repeated—he will not accept any federal money that requires permanent expansion of existing state entitlement programs. Many Texans are not big fans of Perry. However, you need to understand something about most Texans: We believe government is often the problem but seldom the solution.

Texas currently enjoys a budget surplus. In north Texas, we are currently enjoying something of an infrastructure boom and it has nothing to do with Washington. Many civil engineers in this area have unprecedented backlogs. Except for our investment portfolios, life is good.

Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
Richardson, Texas