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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Advice on Maximizing Your Impact?

We are all born with gifts. The most we can do is use them. I have come to believe that there is no bigger impactto society that we can make with our lives than the one that can be made through the proper leverage of the gifts we’ve been given in doing something that brings us true pleasure and delivers to society a compelling solution to an unmet need. Our individual “greatness” is best expressed at the confluence between our gifts, our happiness and our service to society. While nature gives us the freedom to operate inside of the confluence,many of us have a great deal of trouble finding it – insufficient knowledge of self, ever in pursuit of happiness but rarely in possession of happiness, and too much time spent consumed in self-service. No wonder then thatlives with immediately obvious and observable impactseem to be the exception.

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, George Washington, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and more. Each with their respective “greatness” expressed through the transformation of society at a specific point of need – impact. As engineers and research scientists, we are born naturally gifted in math, physics and other hard sciences. We are built to deliversolutions for some of the most enduring unmet needssociety faces. Yet, many of us commit chunks of our lives to jobs, corporations, research endeavors, educational programs, and other,that 1) do not optimally leverage our respective gifts, and/or 2) do not elicit passion or excitement, and/or 4) do not address a meaningful unmet societal need.

Through this plenary session, we will discuss methods for identifying our own unique gifts, applications of those gifts that could enable a life lived in a state of happiness, and some worthwhile unmet needs in society that are ripe for solution. Maximizing our impact may be as simple as identifying and living within our own personal confluence. We are all born with gifts. The most we can do is use them.