2017 Emerging Technology Awards

We revel in the stories of eureka moments, including the first, when Archimedes ran naked and dripping wet through the streets of Syracuse, proclaiming his discovery of a way to measure the volume of an irregular object. Other vivid anecdotes of inspiration, such as the burrs latched onto a dog’s coat that inspired Velcro, or the chocolate bar melted by a radio transmitter that led to the microwave oven, fire the imagination.

But new ideas by themselves are not enough to change the world.

Experts who study technology development describe an S-shaped path traced by successful breakthroughs. First, there is the research and development phase, a long gestation period when promising ideas are tested and improved. (Or not improved—many would-be innovations never make it out of R&D.) At the other end of the path, there is standardization and maturity, when technologies have shown their worth and industries work to turn them into profitable commodities.

Linking those two segments is the ascending phase: Technologies at that point on the S curve have escaped R&D, crossed the so-called commercialization valley of death, and are poised to remake the market. It is these ascending technologies that Mechanical Engineering magazine recognizes this month with our inaugural Emerging Technology Awards.

Our editors have examined ASME’s core technological focuses—bioengineering, automation and robotics, manufacturing, pressure technology, and clean energy—and selected one innovation from each that has successfully moved from the lab to the cusp of commercialization. Some of these technologies are hidden away in the guts of power plants or the brains of automobiles, while others are as visible as powered prosthetic legs. But all share the distinguishing mark of finding insightful new ways of meeting society’s most important challenges.

Please join us in celebrating the achievements of these innovators.

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