The Frontiers of Engineering program brings together through 2-1/2 day meetings a select group of emerging engineering leaders from industry, academe, and government labs to discuss pioneering technical work and leading edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors. The goal of the meetings is to introduce these outstanding engineers (ages 30-45) to each other, and through this interaction facilitate collaboration in engineering, the transfer of new techniques and approaches across fields, and establishment of contacts among the next generation of engineering leaders.


  • Ulrike Wegst
    Associate Professor, Thayer School of Engineering
    Dartmouth College

    My research interests include biological materials, biomaterials, and biomimetics, or the transfer of biological principles to technology. We design and manufacture by directional solidification ("ice-templating") novel multifunctional composites with unusual combinations of structural, mechanical, magnetic, electrical, thermal, and optical properties. 

    The highly interdisciplinary FOE symposium provided a fantastic opportunity to learn more about other fields of research and to explore my own from a new perspective through newly formed collaborations. I particularly enjoyed it as an excellent opportunity for cross-disciplinary inspiration and serendipity.

  • Charles Schroeder
    Associate Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    My group studies the dynamics of soft materials and biological systems using single molecule techniques. Recent work has focused on extending the field of single polymer dynamics to new materials, developing new methods to trap and manipulate single molecules and particles, and improving understanding of gene editing mechanisms. 

    Participating in FOE allowed me to interact and network with engineers across a broad array of disciplines, while also motivating us to think deeply and take action on crucial issues facing society, such as climate change.

  • Ronel Kappes
    Director, Metallurgical Services
    Newmont Mining Corporation

    My work involves mineral processing and flotation separations, surface chemistry, and the flotation chemistry of sulfide minerals. I also make use of advanced characterization techniques to analyze process streams and ore samples to guide process mineralogy and geometallurgy applications. 

    The FOE symposium was an incredible opportunity to engage with a wide variety of engineering professionals from industry and academia. The personal interactions at the symposium allowed me to appreciate the challenges being faced by different industries and research, as well as stimulated thoughts for how solutions and challenges might be addressed differently in my own industry.

  • Anurag Jain
    Principal, Applied Sciences and Investigations
    Weidlinger Associates, Inc.

    I apply observations and conclusions from forensic investigation of hurricane-damaged structures to enhance building envelope design for natural ventilation, installation of attachment-free rooftop solar panels, and other sustainability measures. 

  • Alexandra Boltasseva
    Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
    Purdue University

    My lab focuses on developing material platforms and approaches for a new class of nanophotonic/plasmonic structures and composite optical metamaterials as potential building blocks for advanced optical technologies. Examples include cheap, enhanced-sensitivity sensors, powerful microscopes and nanofabrication tools, novel energy conversion schemes, and improved solar cells. 

    Scientists and engineers tend to focus on their own research area and related technologies. FOE had a tremendous – and somewhat unexpected – impact on my work and me personally by helping me to view my activities and goals through the prism of global engineering challenges. FOE is an exceptional event that provided deep insight into recent developments in many different areas and gave the "10,000-foot view" of emerging technologies and trends.

  • Zhiqun (Daniel) Deng
    Chief Scientist, Energy and Environment
    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

    My team focuses on the development and application of modeling tools for conventional hydropower and marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy systems, including bioacoustics, miniaturized fish tags, autonomous sensor platforms, flow measurements, and marine mammal detection.

    Because my research is cross-disciplinary in nature, FOE provided a perfect opportunity to learn from and network with fellow researchers in a variety of disciplines.