Engineer Explores Intersection of Engineering, Economics and Green Policy

1 Feb

Engineers bring a critical perspective to the economic models and mathematical predictions that are used to influence public policy, says Iowa State mechanical engineer W. Ross Morrow.

 

From an article published in http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100524124057.htm.

Some people believe that with technology comes the destruction of the environment. But a researcher from Iowa State is proving otherwise.

As an Iowa State faculty member, he’s continuing to look at numerical methods for modeling engineering and economic systems. He’s working to improve how models handle something as complex and uncertain as the energy industry. How do models, for example, account for uncertainties about the future of oil reserves and advances in vehicle technology?

He also wants to develop new technical solutions to building large-scale, complex models that take into account engineering technology and market behavior.

He fills his research summaries with talk of random utility models of consumer choice, design-centered policy analysis and the Poincare-Hopf theorem. Ask about his work and he mentions the National Energy Modeling System, Bertrand-Nash equilibrium prices and game theoretical models.

All those tools help him develop models that can better inform environmental policy, industrial decisions and consumer behavior.

And Morrow says it’s good to have somebody with three degrees in mechanical engineering (plus one in math) working on those kinds of problems.

“These issues involving energy and the environment will be solved, in part, by technology,” he said. “And so engineers have to be involved in the discussions. It’s important to have people who develop technology to be involved in policy development.”

And it works the other way around, too.

“Engineers,” he said, “also have to understand how technology decisions influence people’s lives.”

Such things are the roles of modern engineers. This study is a great motivation and proof that engineers are here not just for ther betterment of human society but to the environment as well.

 

-Lourrrey Saflor

 

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