On February 20, we will celebrate the birthday of the United States’ first president, George Washington. The official name of the holiday is Washington’s Birthday, yet many people also include the February birthday of our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, on this holiday. For me, this holiday is interesting because both Washington and Lincoln were engineers. Washington was often described as our nation’s “first engineer.” He was a surveyor who firmly believed in using innovative technology. Washington promoted the construction of roads, canals, docks, and ports. He pushed the development of waterworks and manufacturing resources, as well as new efforts to extract coal and ores. As a general in the Revolutionary War, he advocated the use of many new war technologies, such as hand-operated submarines. As president, Washington enacted the first U.S. Patent Act in 1789 and actually signed the first official U.S. patent.

Abraham Lincoln is the only U.S. president to hold a patent—No. 6469 for his invention of bellows to aid ships in the foraging of shallow waters. He was a pioneer in the advancement of railroads in our country and a strong proponent for the use of advanced technology by the U.S. military. In 1861, he ordered the use of breech-loading guns and ironclad vessels, such as the famous Civil War ship, Monitor.

It is not a coincidence that National Engineer’s Week is in February. This event is purposely scheduled every year to align with the celebration of Washington’s Birthday because of his prominence as an engineer. I am excited to announce that during this year’s National Engineer’s Week, February 19-25, our own Neil Decker will be honored on February 20 as one of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers’ Young Engineers of the Year. For location and ticket information, please contact Patty Henderson at phenderson@cobfen.com.

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are two of the most famous names in our country’s history. It’s no surprise to me that these leaders were also engineers. One of the key components of both presidents’ successes was their willingness to support technology innovation. The Society of Petroleum Engineers follows their lead, as stated by our mission to collect, disseminate, and exchange technical knowledge.

Leadership in our industry is synonymous with embracing new technology. Our industry leaders have realized the benefits of technology advancements and, as a result, produce oil and gas at efficiencies and margins that were unheard of just a few years ago. Real-time data transmission, 4D seismic, and horizontal drilling are just a few examples of such revolutionary technologies.

You can start developing your leadership skills by attending the 2006 Digital Energy Conference on February 21–22, where we will showcase emerging technology that is expected to make a significant difference in our industry (www.DigitalEnergy2006.com).

I challenge you to sign-up, adopt these technological innovations, and join the next generation of great leaders in our country.