Archive for November 19th, 2010


honoring those who advance technology

At its Honors Assembly last Monday, ASME celebrated the accomplishments of those who have spent their professional lives advancing technology.

For a complete list of Honors Assembly honorees and their accomplishments click on the following link:


Below is my related column, as it appeared in the December issue of Mechanical Engineering magazine.


BESIDES HIS SMARTS, what struck me most when I met Harry Armen, more years ago than I can remember, was his graciousness—he’s one of the nicest human beings you will meet. As I got to know him I realized his wit is as sharp as his intellect, and that’s saying a lot on both fronts.

This month Harry, who sits on this magazine’s editorial advisory board, and 68 others will be recognized in a special program at ASME’s International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition in Vancouver, British Columbia, for their achievements in advancing technology. Harry, a past ASME president, retired from Northrop Grumman Corp. in 2007 as chief technologist and his accomplishments are many, but his ongoing work on behalf of the profession and ASME remains tireless.

Just last month Harry chaired an ASME task force looking at ways in which the Society can help mitigate the consequences of complex systems failures, such as those that led to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy this spring and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986.

The meeting included experts in risk management processes and technologists focused on safety and reliability. A Yale University sociology professor who wrote a book on reducing vulnerabilities to natural disasters, industrial accidents, and terrorist attacks contributed greatly to the discussion as well.

It was a stimulating exploration of lessons learned, best practices, and ethical responsibilities across industries. In the end, the group identified several areas where ASME can leverage its strengths, and influence the way complex systems are designed. A report from the task force is expected in a few weeks, but the meeting itself served as a notable venue to expand the breadth of critical thought among the participants, many of whom play central roles in developing complex systems for their companies.

ASME plays an important role as a catalyst for unbiased, intelligent discussions on emerging technologies and critical issues impacting the quality of the world we live in. And enabling an open dialogue from interdisciplinary and often divergent perspectives is one of the strengths of the Society. So is its role in monitoring emerging technologies that will affect our future.

In this issue, we celebrate the achievements of Harry Armen and his peers, who have pushed forward the ever-expanding boundaries of technologies and are being recognized this month at the 2010 ASME Honors Assembly in Vancouver. We also focus on the work of others, like Ahmed K. Noor, who bring us a glimpse of emerging technologies in the areas of information technologies and intelligent networks. And in our ongoing exploration of the confluence of engineering and biology, we asked members of the Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems Science and Technology Center—which will combine research at MIT, Georgia Tech, the University of Illinois, and elsewhere—to tell us of their work focused on the development of complex biological machines.

Complex systems, biological and mechanical, develop in time, much as children do on their way to adulthood. Those who shepherd their successful development play a significant role in society, and deserve recognition.

— John G. Falcioni, Editor-in-Chief
He can be reached by e-mail at

The Editor

John G. Falcioni is Editor-in-Chief of Mechanical Engineering magazine, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

November 2010

Twitter from John Falcioni

Twitter from Engineering for Change