NEW YORK, September 20, 2006 – In a speech last night to inaugurate The Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York, Dr. Andrew S. Grove, co-founder and former chairman and CEO of Intel Corp., said the United States could meet two of its greatest challenges – healthcare costs and energy independence – by encouraging development of “disruptive technologies.” He also called for a “Moore’s Law” for energy.
The City University of New York named CCNY’s School of Engineering for Dr. Grove last November after he gave a $26 million gift to The College, the largest in its160-year history. ( http://www1.ccny.cuny.edu/advancement/pr/Andrew-Grove-Donation.cfm ) Dr. Grove graduated from CCNY in 1960 at the top of his class in engineering, four years after leaving his native Hungary.
Dr. Grove described disruptive technologies as new ways of doing things that at first are usually dismissed by existing practitioners but eventually take over all or most of a market as their quality improves and the capabilities expand. As an example, he cited the personal computer replacing much of mainframe computing.
To address healthcare costs, which are increasing at a rate that is nearly double the annual cost of the war in Iraq, “we simply need to be engineers and reduce costs step-by-step, item-by-item like our predecessors and colleagues do daily in many other lines of business,” Dr. Grove said. Treatment needs to be shifted from inconvenient and expensive facilities such as emergency rooms and nursing homes to more accessible and lower cost facilities, he added.
For example, in-store retail clinics, which are springing up in discount chains such as Wal-Mart and Target, could handle cases that often lead people, often those who lack medical insurance, to go to emergency rooms. “They provide very low-cost generic services for a reasonable fee,” Dr. Grove said, adding that the clinics “an example of a disruptive phenomenon that comes out of the workings of capitalism in its best sense.”
Many of the elderly who now enter nursing homes could be enabled to remain in their own homes through the adoption of digital technologies that not much more complicated than a DVD player or cell phone, he noted.
“We can equip homes with electronics and reduce cost by at least a factor of 10 compared to nursing homes. The details are many and the problems include reliability of wireless electronics, but that’s what disruptive technologies do: they do a modest job and then improve on it.”
Dr. Grove also called for development of an Internet-based “shoebox” that would store all of a patient’s medical records and provide healthcare providers with common access. The Internet “is begging to be used for that purpose,” he said. “It costs nothing because it is already there. All we have to do is adopt it for this use.”
Shifting to energy, Dr. Grove said the United States first needs a “clear understanding of the nature of the problem. The loss of our strategic destiny is our number one problem. With every barrel of oil that we purchase, we transfer power over our national well being to entities whose primary interest is not the same as ours.”
While a multitude of alternatives to imported oil are available, including coal, nuclear and agri-fuels, engineers are needed to address the myriad problems with them, he added. Among those challenges are improved methods for cleaning, capturing, storing and transmitting the energy produced by coal, improving the economies of scale for nuclear energy and increased the energy yield of agri-fuels.
“American agriculture has made this country incredibly productive as a food supplier by improving the plant per acre yield multiple times over the recent past,” Dr. Grove noted. “There is nothing to suggest we can’t increase it further, and we can couple it with increasing the energy per plant factor.
“We need a Moore’s Law for energy,” Dr. Grove said, referring to the theory developed by Intel’s Gordon Moore, which forecast the growth in complexity over time of silicon chips. “Once we drew that line and believed it, we couldn’t do anything less than what that line said.”
About The City College of New York
For over 159 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 12,200 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.
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