Editor's Desk

By Michael Hughes

Sailing toward real hope

Invariably when I look back on past stories, our annual Engineers Who Make a Difference stands out. They shine as true heroes in a world where many who carry that title are mere celebrities.

In the world of newspapers/media where I spent most of my professional life, we ink-stained wretches often were suckers for the latest proposal, program or new idea stemming from the world of politics and entertainment. But for the most part, as far as creating real value or driving true improvements in people's lives, these plans resulted in next to nil. And what improvements happened in the lives of one population cohort often came at the expense of another.

Since 2009, I have been learning that engineering, especially industrial engineering, is quite different. With few exceptions, practitioners and academics tackle real issues that matter to real people, coming up with win-win solutions that improve the workplace, people's lives and organizational operations. If you ever have had a conversation with me, it's likely that you've heard my axiom that IEs, not politicians and lawyers, should run the world.

That's the way it is with Stephan Wrage and Rodrigo Bolaños, Industrial Engineer magazine's Engineers Who Make a Difference for 2016.

Wrage grew up in the German port city of Hamburg, where he developed an interest in environmentalism. In a move toward sustainability that returns the age of sail to the high seas, his company, SkySails, provides kite propulsion and decision optimization software for the shipping industry. The kites have 30 to 40 tons of towing force, drastically reducing the need to burn fossil fuels.

Bolaños, a native of El Salvador who returned home after years stateside, is general manager of League Collegiate Outfitters in Ciudad Arce, El Salvador. The factory and its 18 discrete programs provide jobs and hope for forgotten slices of Salvadoran society – the poor, middle aged, senior citizens and former gang members.

So click here. Read the stories. And sail toward a future of hope, not despair.

Michael Hughes is managing editor of IIE. Reach him at mhughes@iienet.org or (770) 349-1110.