We discuss the rapidly emerging 4th Industrial Revolution where the convergence of phenomena and disciplines, from physical to social, is becoming an increasing reality. We postulate that engineering is the key enabler of this convergence through what we call Engineering + X, and where X is practically anything. The accelerated pace of technology and convergence have allowed us to for the first time realistically address the solution of Grand-Challenge-Like problems and we provide a specific example of the US National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges. We also address the particular issues when X is human- or society-centric, the importance of decision making and that of unintended consequences. Finally, we provide some examples of convergence centers.
Yannis C. Yortsos was appointed Dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in 2005. He is the Chester F. Dolley Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and holds the Zohrab A. Kaprielian Dean’s Chair in Engineering. Yortsos is well known for his work on fluid flow, transport and reaction processes in porous and fractured media with applications to the recovery of subsurface fluids and soil remediation. He has been actively involved in the peer review of the Yucca Mountain Project for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste.
Under Dean Yortsos' leadership, the Viterbi School has risen to 10th worldwide for engineering, computer science and technology (2010 Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings). This distinction follows a substantial increase in size, quality and diversity of the school’s faculty and its undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. student body; greater retention and graduation rates; a growing number of major national and international faculty awards; and a thriving research program including six national research centers and total multi-year, multi-school funding of more than $180M. Yortsos spearheaded strategic directions for the creation of educational and research programs that respond to the critical needs of the profession, the society and of global outreach.
Yortsos coined the term Engineering+, a concept promoting interdisciplinary research, programs and faculty appointments that enable engineering’s powerful role for innovation in the sciences and the professions. He led the establishment of new programs across curricula to enhance engineering education, including the recent HST@USC collaboration between the schools of engineering and medicine at USC. Along with his counterparts at Duke University and Olin College, he promoted the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges of Engineering, co-hosting the first NAE Grand Challenges Summit at Duke University in Spring 2009, and the second annual summit at USC in Fall 2010. The first meeting spawned the Grand Challenges Scholars Program for undergraduate engineering schools across the nation. To expand ties with top institutions overseas, Yortsos created offices overseas in Bangalore, Shanghai and Beijing, which led to a strong global presence.
The recipient of many honors for research, teaching and service, Dean Yortsos is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and serves as the liaison of Section 11 to the National Research Council. Yortsos received his B.Sc. from the National Technical University, Athens, Greece, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, all in chemical engineering. An invited scholar at several institutions in the United States and abroad, he joined the faculty of USC in 1978. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Engineering Deans Council as well as the Executive Committee of the Global Engineering Deans Council.