NAE Expands Initiatives in Africa

Thu, April 25, 2024

Design Science in the Age of AI


NAE member Panos Papalambros, professor emeritus in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, and Conrad Tucker, director of Carnegie Mellon University Africa, spearheaded an NAE Member-led event (MLE) on design science in Kigali, Rawanda. The goal was to inspire the next generation of African technology leaders and innovators to transcend the boundaries of traditional design thinking. 

According to Dr. Papalambros, the workshop, Design Science in the Age of AI, aimed to give participants a hands-on understanding of design science beyond design thinking, to enhance skills for start-ups, to inform coursework and research development at their home institutions, and to initiate collaborations among them. 

DesignScience_CMU-Africa-2.jpg“The workshop gave participants a direct experience in linking engineering, economics, social, and behavioral sciences — using the design science exemplar for studying and teaching sustainable development in the African context,” Papalambros said. “NAE's endorsement is a huge motivation for follow-up research and pedagogy by this energetic and committed group of scholars and their colleagues."

Held March 10-12, 2024, the workshop attracted participants representing universities in east, west, and southern Africa. The MLE was coordinated in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University-Africa and the African Engineering and Technology (Afretec) Network, which seeks to provide “inclusive digital growth through collaboration.” Chris McComb, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, facilitated the workshop.

“The fact that professors from nine African universities across the continent of Africa participated in the design science workshop was exciting,” said Nadine Aubry, the George and Virginia Bugliarello NAE International Secretary. “Even more exciting is that workshop leaders and organization partners will continue to support these faculty members in their teaching and research after the workshop, and participants are now part of a network. The NAE is strongly committed to further grow its presence in Africa, including through the network that was established here.”DesignScience_CMU-Africa-3.jpg

Workshop highlights may be found here. Photos from the workshop may be viewed here.

NAE Member-led events empower NAE members to advance the NAE's mission “to advance the welfare and prosperity of the nation by providing independent advice on matters involving engineering and technology, and by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and public appreciation of engineering.”



U.S.-Africa Frontiers of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Symposium

EmbassyRabat.jpegNadine Aubry, George and Virginia Bugliarello NAE International Secretary, joined NAS President Marcia McNutt and representatives from USAID-US Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other agencies for the Academies second U.S.-Africa Frontiers Symposium of Science, Engineering and Medicine in Rabat, Morocco, January 16-18, 2024.

Early-career researchers from the United States and 20 African countries gathered at the Hassan-II Academy of Science and Technology to discuss advances across a broad range of multi-disciplinary topics including green technologies for climate adaptation, sensing technologies, human-technology interaction, vaccine manufacturing, and one health*.

“This symposium could not be more timely. Many of topics you will discuss are areas where Morocco has made considerable investments, especially in green energy and climate adaptation, vaccine manufacturing, and artificial intelligence,” said U.S. Ambassador Puneet Talwar. “These are topics which no single country can address on its own. They require a collective effort,” he added.


Collaboration and collective efforts are the foundation of the U.S.-Africa Frontiers of Science, Engineering, and Medicine symposia. The program convenes early-career scientists, engineers and medical professionals from the United States and African Union member countries to enhance scientific exchange, dialogue, and collaboration through discussions about advances and opportunities in their fields. The program is based on the successful National Academies' Kavli Frontiers of Science Program and the National Academy of Engineering's Frontiers of Engineering.

For more information on the U.S.-Africa Frontiers of Science, Engineering, and Medicine program click here.

To read Ambassador Talwar’s full remarks click here.

According to the World Health Organization, “one health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems. It recognizes that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent.” For more information on one health click here.