By Robert Bordley, Clinical Professor of Engineering Practice in the Division of Integrative Systems and Design
Dealing with the social and economic upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic will require the skills and talents of many types of professions – medical personnel, public health experts, parents, students, educators, legislators, enforcement authorities and many others. Until now, though, the U.S. has struggled to mount a coordinated national response to effectively stamp out COVID-19, even as other countries in Europe and East Asia have shown that the disease can be controlled.
In the past, the United States has successfully mobilized to address deeply complex challenges and I believe one of those – sending astronauts to the Moon – can be instructive today, even though a pandemic is a very different challenge.
Twelve years after the famed Project Apollo to land men on the Moon in 1969, General Motors hired former NASA Administrator Robert Frosch to bring space-age technology to car manufacturing. He commissioned a small task force to incorporate Apollo’s engineering process into the design of vehicles. I began my systems engineering career in this task force and now work on integrating the statistical and management sciences into future moonshots.