Distinguished Speaker Series

Engineering for Professionals (EP) presents a limited webinar series spotlighting our faculty. Learn about the ways engineering affects the modern world and how our faculty are staying at the forefront of engineering advancement.

  • Risky Business: What Level of Risk to Mission Success Is acceptable?
    Richard M. Day
    February 2024
    NASA’s rescue effort for the Apollo 13 astronauts promulgated the phrase, “failure is not an option.” However, five decades have passed; times and technology have changed. Many successes and failures have occurred over this time for high-profile, complex system development and operational programs, aerospace, and otherwise. In 2024, is failure an option or not? Is there a free pass for attempting something very new and challenging that results in failure? Or is failure still a limiting prospect for future opportunities?
  • Why Every Engineering Should Learn Patent Law
    Lawrence Husick
    April 2023
    Engineering is applied science and technology directed at solving problems. The field of patent law is dedicated to documenting and protecting novel solutions in order to encourage the development of new ideas. Engineers should thus both understand how patent law works and realize that patent documents serve as a vast information resource. Some engineers may wish to pursue a career as a patent agent or attorney which can be a lucrative and rewarding path.
  • The Science, Ethics, and Geopolitics of Artificial Intelligence
    Monica Lopez Gonzalez
    April 2023
    Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have emerged as increasingly significant areas of inquiry and debate in science, technology, and society. From social media, wearable tech, and fintech, to autonomous weapon systems, law enforcement, and medical diagnosis, AI and ML are being integrated within many services and products across a range of industries. At the same time, like other powerful tech (e.g. CRISPR, nuclear power), AI poses a variety of ethical and political questions about how it can and should be designed, developed, deployed, and monitored. Covering AI’s siloed past to its global present, this talk will highlight the human-centered approach needed to ensure humanity’s viable future.
  • The Science of Sleep, Learning, and Memory: “Hacking Your Sleep”—Learn Better and Remember Longer
    William Coon
    April 2023
    Sleep is critical for learning and memory. While we sleep, our brains are hard at work consolidating new learning into long-term memory, integrating it with prior experience, and scanning for new insights. Why work hard burning the midnight oil when you can outsource learning to your sleeping brain? In this lecture, we will cover the science of sleep and learning, unlocking the ways we can optimize our studying to make maximal use of our sleep. Sleep smart! Learn better.
  • Highlights from Principles of Air Quality Management
    Susan Wierman
    Feb. 2023
    This lecture highlights aspects of the air quality management cycle, which rests on a legal, economic, and scientific foundation. Progress has been great, but important challenges remain. Environmental engineering requires multidisciplinary collaboration. You’ll do a better job if you understand the principles of air quality management.
  • A Diagnosis of Disturbed Rivers
    Allen Gellis
    Nov. 2022
    More than half of U.S. rivers are impaired, meaning they cannot function as ecosystems, are not dependable supplies of drinking water, or are hazardous for recreation. Understanding the fluvial-geomorphic system is essential in developing engineering solutions to restore our rivers. Geomorphology is a science that seeks to understand and quantify the processes responsible for river formation—how sediment transport, flow, and gradient are key processes in creating an equilibrium. This presentation will outline some of the important principles that govern river formation and sediment processes, highlighting emerging technologies that can improve our understanding of the fluvial system and help develop management strategies to restore our rivers.
  • The Economics of Community Resilience Planning—Beyond Benefit-Cost Analysis
    Jennifer Helgeson
    April 2022
    There are methods of evaluation that move beyond traditional benefit-cost valuation to address the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of resilience and sustainability planning, especially in the built environment. Yet, these tend to be aimed at expert users and do not provide comprehensive tools that are relevant or accessible to community-level practitioners. This presentation will review recent advancements in developmental and environmental economics, disaster risk management, social sciences, and sustainability science that address critical gaps. It will highlight a set of key issues and emerging methodological considerations for improving the socio-economic evaluation of interventions and investments that involve both resilient solutions and sustainable development as primary or secondary objectives.
  • Environmental Justice: The Past, the Present, and the Future
    Kelly Tzoumis
    Feb. 2022
    Climate change, energy justice, and sustainability are current global movements that impact our society at all levels. These global movements are inextricably linked to the environmental justice movement. This presentation focuses on environmental justice from its origins to current day policy.Tzoumis explains the foundations and principles of the environmental justice movement, and how it differed from the modern environmental movement in the U.S. of the 1960s–1970s. She will then explore some of the contemporary tools used in the field for investigating environmental justice implementation. Finally, she will link the environmental justice movement to current global movements on climate change, energy justice, and sustainability. She will present the framing, visuals, and multimedia used by environmental justice activists.
  • The Renaissance of Synthetic Aperture Radar
    E. David Jansing
    Nov. 2021
    Synthetic Aperture Radar is a sensing modality that relies on reflected radio waves to generate an image of the scene. Until just recently, SAR was considered a boutique remote sensing asset: difficult to interpret and difficult to exploit. However, SAR’s coherent nature means that it’s rich in information. With the onset of commercial SAR in the US, SAR is coming into its own as a 24/7, all-weather imaging modality. This talk will describe the basics of SAR and many of the applications that SAR is known for and possible applications as commercial SAR becomes ubiquitous.
  • Cybersecurity Awareness and the Ever-changing Threat Landscape
    Thomas Byrd
    Oct. 2021
    The recent ransomware attacks and the related impact on business emphasizes the challenges organizations face to implement technical and administrative controls to protect their networks in an ever-changing threat landscape. The Federal Information Security Management Act requires each federal agency to develop, document, and implement a cybersecurity awareness training program. With the alarming proliferation of cyber threats across the world, the question becomes: Is this enough? Should federal legislators enact laws that extend beyond the Government and industry specific regulations to establish mandatory frameworks to dramatically strengthen the cybersecurity of those private corporations that comprise the nations critical infrastructure? If such legislation is enacted, how would progress or success be measured? Addressing those questions and highlighting best practices for maturing and proving that your cybersecurity awareness training is actually working is what this lecture intends to do.
  • Manhattan, Moonshot, DotCom, and WarpSpeed: US Technology Policy for the 21st Century
    Lawrence Husick
    Sept. 2021 

    From 1941 to 1969, the United States leapt ahead of the rest of the world in every area of science and technology. This was no accident. It was the result of both emergency circumstances in World War II, and a purposeful set of technology-promoting federal policies crafted by scientists, technocrats, and military leaders in the aftermath of the war, and it was hugely successful. From the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 onward, these policies fell victim to the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate distrust of government, privatization trends, the rise of giant multinational technology companies, and the desire of other countries to leap ahead in technology. The result has been a steady erosion of U.S. technology leadership. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic may have exposed some flaws in our national technology policies. Will the U.S. now re-embrace the successful post-WWII model, and once again publicly support R&D and use it as a tool of geopolitical strategy?

Academic Webinars

Offered at least twice a year, our academic webinars provide useful information for graduate engineering students in the areas of writing, communication, and presentation development. These webinars are taught by experts from the Whiting School of Engineering.

Recently held writing workshop webinars include:

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