Last week, Apple Inc.’s CEO Steven P. Jobs—who was characterized in a New York Times headline as the company’s “master of design”—resigned from the corporation he co-founded due to what are believed to be issues relating to ailing health. Although the wellbeing of Jobs has been a source of speculation for some time, the announcement nonetheless left many in the company in disbelief. After all, the fear is that the end of an era is at hand.
Jobs became a celebrated figure both as the company’s leading business executive and, indeed, as its master designer. Under his leadership Apple became one of the leading technology innovators in the world. As such, he leaves a lasting legacy. Company insiders insist Jobs will remain active, not just as chair of the Apple board of directors, to which he was immediately named after his resignation, but also in developing future products and company strategy.
Vision, creativity and decisiveness are three traits that have been attributed to Jobs. These are the traits that define successful designers, regardless of whether they head companies such as Apple, or design products for denizens of developing countries.
This week, ASME’s Design Engineering division and the Computers and Information Engineering (CIE) division are holding their annual, co-located conference in Washington, D.C. Those of you who are attending this conference are feeling the design prowess and excitement that permeates the hallways—the topics at the conference range from mechatronics, to modeling, to sustainable manufacturing. Design is such a fundamental aspect of our profession that talking design with a broad spectrum of practitioners and educators is a stimulating part of what makes this conference such a success.
Speaking of design, I want to alert you to the special September design issue of Mechanical Engineering magazine, which is being distributed now. This issue showcases case studies from engineers working on unique and intriguing projects. Of special note, a section called “Designing for the Rest of the Global Market” introduces readers to a handful of designers who are doing good work on behalf of people living in some of the world’s poorest regions. This issue of Mechanical Engineering also includes a supplement from the Design Engineering Division, so that you can better familiarize yourself with the activities of this important ASME unit.
Finally, I want to let you know that if you visit WWW.ASME.ORG you can listen to a podcast featuring Dr. John Michopoulos of the Naval Research Laboratory. Michopoulos is chair of the CIE conference this year and he talks about current trends and challenges in engineering design research.
Presenting you the work of engineers in design and other areas is what we consider to be part of ASME’s responsibility—that is, publicizing examples of leading-edge processes and technologies.
The influence of the work of Steve Jobs, as well as that of others who inspire us, should be a motivation for all of us who consider designing not simply a job a function, but an endeavor that enriches how we live our lives.
— Thomas G. Loughlin, ASME Executive Director