This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Design News Engineering Awards Program, honoring engineers who have contributed enormously to the advancement of technology.
Heading this honor roll are those voted by our readers to be "Engineer of the Year," including:
Burt Rutan (1988) pioneered composite materials in aircraft ranging from drones and business jets to the famed Voyager, which flew around the world without refueling.
Rowland Redington (1989) of General Electric was well past age 40 when he made his engineering mark—cutting-edge CT and MRI scanners for medical diagnostics.
Raymond Kurzweil (1990) invented products based on artificial intelligence, including music synthesizers and a reading machine for the blind.
Terry Haber (1991) kept health-care workers safe from AIDS with revolutionary syringes that prevent accidental needlesticks.
Victor Poirier (1992) introduced some of the first implanted pumps to assist patients suffering from congestive heart failure.
Bonnie Dunbar (1993) helped design the Space Shuttle's heat shield—then did key materials research in space as a NASA astronaut.
Dean Kamen (1994), in the news for his ingenious "Seg-way" scooter, designed the first portable kidney dialysis machine and launched a growing robot design contest in high schools.
Jerome Lemelson (1995) became one of history's most prolific inventors, with ideas ranging from bar code readers to camcorders to toy racing cars.
Alan Mulally (1996) orchestrated the biggest and most complex design project of the 1990s—the Boeing 777.
Bernard Dagarin (1997) held a Hughes engineering team together through two decades of setbacks before successfully sending the Galileo probe into fiery Jupiter.
Brian Muirhead (1998) of the Jet Propulsion Lab put a rover on Mars and did it "faster, better, and cheaper" than anyone would have predicted.
Lynn Otten (1999) of Medtronic calmed the tremors of Parkinson's disease with an implanted system based on neurostimulation.
Hunter Peckham (2000) developed electrical stimulation devices to restore motor function to individuals paralyzed by spinal cord injuries.
Charles Munnerlyn (2001) improved the eyesight of thousands through machines that harness excimer lasers to reshape the cornea.
Finally, in this issue, we honor the 2002 Engineer of the Year, Gerson Rosenberg, for his three decades of work on heart-assist devices. We salute all these engineers for their outstanding technical and people skills.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.