It's a Small World, After all

Secretly, I smirked when I saw the Small World exhibit in Disneyland closed for renovation. Earlier this year, I took my family to the park prior to the ASHRAE winter meeting in Anaheim, and confess I was glad I didn't have to hear that song. Still, I must acknowledge the inherent truth of the concept and the power of the melody which, right now, is unfortunately chiming in the back of my mind.

11/01/2004


Secretly, I smirked when I saw the Small World exhibit in Disneyland closed for renovation. Earlier this year, I took my family to the park prior to the ASHRAE winter meeting in Anaheim, and confess I was glad I didn't have to hear that song. Still, I must acknowledge the inherent truth of the concept and the power of the melody which, right now, is unfortunately chiming in the back of my mind. Anyway, I bring up the ride because global business and offshoring are very much at the forefront of the news. This issue, Scott Siddens, our intrepid senior editor—who actually spent a portion of his youth living in China—reports on the trend of U.S. M/E/P engineering firms following manufacturing clients across the sea and the challenges of designing facilities there.

Now, it's easy to say something flippant, like we, as Americans, should just be worrying about the good 'ole U.S. of A. But reality, proving the veracity of that Mickey Mouse song, has shown us that the world is not so big anymore, nor are things black and white. Let me give you a few examples: Residential construction has been a red-hot market here in the U.S. But in reading recent business news I learned that a number of financial experts are fearful for the future of the market. What's surprising is not that the boom is ending, but that part of the problem is that Asian, not American, investors are expected to stop sending shiploads of cash into this country. Specifically, the report noted, Chinese and Japanese investors, for years, have been buying U.S. debt treasury notes as a way to keep the dollar strong, which of course helps their exports.

If you read the papers you're also likely aware that a couple of key newsmakers from the '60s recently passed on: Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper and JFK press liaison Pierre Salinger. The news made me nostalgic and I broke out copies of The Right Stuff, Apollo 13 , and a recent film out of Australia, The Dish , about the Land Down Under's role in making the broadcast of the lunar landing a reality—a global connection I was completely unaware of.

Another recent item in the news—in fact, it ran in the 10/25 CSE NewsWatch—was a story about the rising number of published professional science and engineering articles emerging out of Latin America. This publication is no exception. Our story about getting tough LEED credits via building automation strategies, "Ready for Take Off," p. 30, is co-authored by Alberto Rios, an engineer originally hailing from Venezuela.

I'm simply saying our world is a two-way street and in this time of war and stressed international relations, we can certainly use some good will. One thing that struck me in watching those space program movies was the inspiring news footage of the world coming together, even just briefly, to pray for the crews of Apollos 11 and 13. Gene Krantz, flight director of Apollo 13, who, when down-hearted NASA officials started planning for a worse-case scenario, rebuked them, saying, "This will be our finest hour." There's a lot we can learn in those words, and I truly hope that the engineers working with folks from different nations can be ambassadors for a more common good.





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