The USA Science and Engineering Festival will be held October 23rd and 24th, 2010 on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
Ray Johnson: Science has been the cornerstone of our society. Science and engineering have been a strong economic driver for us.
Dr. Ray Johnson is senior vice president and chief technology officer at Lockheed Martin. He sits on the board of the U.S.A. Science and Engineering Festival, expected to draw a million visitors to Washington’s National Mall in October 2010.
Ray Johnson: One of the things we know about interest in science and technology is that the decision to go into those fields occurs early in a person’s life, in the grade school years. So the goal of the USA Science and Engineering Festival is to enable young students to be exposed to hands-on opportunities in science, for them to really see what it’s like to get the feel of it.
Johnson said he believes it’s important to inspire more young people in the U.S. to choose careers in science and engineering.
Ray Johnson: A Congressional report a few years ago found that the U.S. leadership is beginning to erode in many of the areas of science. Inside the corporation we actually view this as nothing short of a crisis. The national security environment is more than just military security. It’s also economic security. It’s that competitiveness globally. It’s the ability to train a workforce that can work in the areas of energy and climate change, affordable health care, cybersecurity, some of the big challenges that we see for the world today, and the exciting opportunities that are being created in these fields.
Dr. Johnson said that the USA Science and Engineering Festival will be the largest such festival ever held in the United States.
Ray Johnson: We expect more than a million visitors over the period from the 10th to the 24th of October. On the 23rd and 24th of October, there’ll hundreds of exhibits on the National Mall of Washington. It’s an opportunity to witness the science and engineering, take it away from the textbook and the theoretical and into the practical, into the hands-on.
The ‘thrill of victory’ in solving difficult problems, said Johnson, is one reason he first became interested in science and engineering.
Ray Johnson: Engineering allows you to make things, it allows you to make a difference. I think the best analogy is a sports analogy. You may remember Wide World of Sports had a story on ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.’ I think today’s young people, when exposed to engineering, but especially the science and math that underpins it, can actually experience that same kind of thrill of victory through solving difficult problems and making a difference to the world.
Dr. Johnson sees a bright future for young people considering a career in science and engineering.
Ray Johnson: Science and engineering allows you to work on creating the future. If you think about the things we’re doing inside our corporation, we’re building the only two fifth-generation fighter aircraft. We’re sending spacecraft to Mars to explore the planet and discover water. We’re working in advanced technology areas like nanotechnology. And we’re also working on some of the more challenging problems for the Earth today, including energy and climate change. Engineers of the future are going to develop clean and renewable energy sources. They’re going to continue to battle international terrorism. They’re going to continue to create new technologies to make our lives better.
Our thanks today to the USA Science and Engineering Festival – October 23rd-24th 2010 – on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
Jorge Salazar has conducted thousands of in-depth interviews with scientists in the process of creating science content for EarthSky. He also helps host the 90-second EarthSky podcasts. Jorge has a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He knows a lot about a lot of different things. For EarthSky, he has explored subjects as diverse as nanotechnology, ecosystem-based management, climate change, global health, international environmental treaties, astrophysics and cosmology, and environmental security. His penetrating research style, poetic writing, and ability to track down and speak with Nobel prize-winning laureates, all make him a huge asset to EarthSky.