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The Challenges of Electrical Engineers in the 21'' Century

C . C . Chan
Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
The University of Hong Kong
Pokfilam Road, Hong Kong
E-mail: ccchan@eee.hku.hk

In the first half of the 20* Century, our understanding things happen. Science is about understanding nature and
of physics and chemistry opened up our imagination to about the ways in which we can be assured that our
the wonders of what could be realized. In the second half understandings are valid. Engineering, in a broad sense,
of the 20" century, the theoretical understanding is about modifying nature. Science is about trying to
accumulated over the previous 50 years, were applied learn the whys of the physical universe and of life in it.
yith increasing success by the engineers. Electrical Engineering is about finding ways to modify that
Engineers has played leading role in the development of universe and that life in order to extend our biological
modem society. reach, the quality of our lives, and the niches in which
At the start of the 2 Is' century, the emergency of info- we can survive. Thus, engineering is about how.
technology, Biotechnology, and Nano-technology Technology is the means of improving human life by the
parallels the situation 50 years ago. These three application of all knowledge and experience. hovation
technologies when applied will change our existing is the successfil introduction of something new. It is not
socia?'paradigm. Our global society will be radically enough to pursue the whys of nature or to find how we
transformed. It may allow us to deal with major can modify nature. We must also decide what we should
challenges facing the world, namely, over population and do. If engineering is to have a strong say about the future,
insufficient available natural resources. A different it needs to become integrated with science, society and
quality of life may be in the offing for all. humanistic concerns. 2 Is' century engineers will need to
The present global environment is rapid change in astute makers, trusted innovators, agents of change,
political, economical and technical environment. The master integrators, enterprise enablers, technology
character of change is globalization, and hence stewards and knowledge handlers.
accelerating the global competition and cooperation. The Engineering should venture to develop new
driver of change is discoveries or innovation, but not capabilities and a broader sense of mission. We should
more core competencies. integrate what we know, what we can do and what we
The future is "Intellectric", that is intelligent electricity. should do. We should also be able to integrate the
Electric energy that is secure, clean and efficient. This is biological organism, society and the machine. We should
the major challenges of electric engineering in different strive to engineer a better tomorrow guided by a desire to
fields. give future generations a greener, healthier and more
The role of engineers is to integrate science, harmonious world.
technology and the business world and hence to make

KExSaxn Invited Paper *Historical Development

The Challenges of Electrical Engineers

in The 21st Century
*Changing Environment
Prof C C Chan
Academician, Chinese Academy of Engineering
Fellow, Royal Academy of Engineering, UK
President (99/00), Hong gong Institution of Engineers
I *Engineering the Future I

20th Century 21st Century

1900-1950 Ma~hen~atiu Prcseni: ~OrmMionTechnology

Sciencc: Physics Bio-Technology
ChUnLary Npno-Tshnology

I9IM-MM Application of abon He&r : Application of above Rapid change in poiiticd, economic and
Engiring: for Modem Life for Swrinable Development
Mac Chnlknging technical environment
Mac DranicChpnge

*Free flow of information and capital

Accelerating the cycle from basic research to real world *Changing investment pattern

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Character of Change
Driver of Change
CF Competition/Cooperation
not core competencies

New Age
Materials + Energy .)Information
-Information and knowledge become
0 Information and knowledge a form of capital asset
become a form of capital asset

0 The impact of IT is ubiquitous -The impact of IT is ubiquitous

A Look into the Mid-21st Century

I Global energy consumptionvs population

w-Rmrp.I WalRODIy.. .rbrr-

Global reach of resources

Why All This Change?

I Getting from Here to There: Many Cutting-Edge EVs Today

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Muscles to the Brain?
To Give /
Brain to the Muscles

Increasing Energy Efficiency

Integration of
@Energyand Information
*Heavy Current and Light Currenf
*Muscle and Brain

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Engineering Philosophy

The “ Intellectric: ” Future Science \ Engineering

The 27st century will be +Discovery, *Integration of Science,

electric.. and intelligent +Knowledge of
Technology and
Management to Solve
hda1(1-1950) Controllable General Truth *Real World Problem
Precise Economically and
Flexible +Understand the *ModIQ the World
Clean .)Why? *How?What’ s For?
Quick response .)Individual Team Work
.)First *But
tm 2um 2050

Technology is the means of

Science is the body of, and quest improving human life by the
for, fundamental knowledge and application of all knowledge and
understanding of all things experience

Engineering is the application of Technology is anything that

scientific and mathematical ’
makes something happen, it may
principle towards practical ends. be a product, a process, or a
methodology -

Innovation is the successful

introduction of something
new. It has significant S+E=T
technical content and
achieves commercial T #I

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Engineering :A Global Profession
Role of Engineers Continuing Technological Advances are blurring
national boundaries
To Integrate Science, Technology
Engineering has become a global profession
& Business World
Engineers of 21st century will require greater
To Make Things Happen
Need for international standards of engineering

Quality assurance through accreditation with

international recognltion

Technology Transfer
*Catalyst for Innovation Business
Engineering Education Reform *Incubation of New Technology
Add new fundamentals : \v'h *Integration of Fund, Technology
and Market
- Information Technology *Infrastructure
- Bio-Technology .Government Policy
Venture capital and high-tech stock market
+Funding Agency
+Applied Science & Technology Research Centre
+Science Park

Flow of Technology Key Elements in Technology Transfer

*Innovative Technology
West East
*Demand and Desire
West East

-&: *Infrastructure

West East
*Education & Training
West East "Legal Support
*Innovative Forms of TT

The R&D Process

Chain reaction of the

If Engineering is to have
a strong say about the
Future, it needs to
become more Integrated
with Science, Society
and Humanistic Concerns

Cngineering the Future (1)- ___.-


It is not enough to pursue

the WHYS of nature or to Engineers should venture to
find HOW we can modify develop new capabilities and
nature. We must also a broader sense of mission
decide what we Should Do

Engineering the Future (2)
Integration of science, engineering and ethics
-what we know -knowledge
-what we can do -action Strive to engineer a better tomorrow
-what we should do -wisdom
guided by the desire to give
future generations a Greener,
Healthier and
More Harmonious world

21st Century Electrical Engineers

Innovative Technology and Engineering are
*Frontier knowledge Handlers 0 Paramount to the Global Future Development
*Technology Overseers
*Trusted Innovators
*Astute Makers It is the Key to the Competitiveness
-Enterprise Enablers
*Agents of Change
*Master Integrators

SUCCESS Lagination
hnova tion

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