NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering

Areas of Interest:

Environment, Education, Energy, Healthcare, Understanding Engineering

Project Type:


Latest Update: June 23, 2016
The NAE convened a select, international committee to evaluate ideas on the greatest challenges and opportunities for engineering. The grand challenges for engineering are presented and described in the project website at
Primary Contact: Randy Atkins

In a fourteen-month project, the NAE convened a select, international committee to evaluate ideas on the greatest challenges and opportunities for engineering. The committee drew upon many sources of engineering expertise (including the NAE membership and foreign members, the NAE's international Frontiers of Engineering program, and engineering societies worldwide) as well as ideas from the broader public.

The NAE Committee on Engineering's Grand Challenges identified 14 grand challenges and opportunities for engineering during the world's next few generations. It pointed to engineering or scientific research and innovation that look promising for addressing each challenge as well as suggested currently unmet research needs.

The Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century are revealed on a special website.

The website was presented at an event in Washington, D.C. involving dignitaries from government, the science/technical community, and media/entertainment. Further distribution of a print publication of the challenges came from collaboration with major media outlets.  The website has been promoted widely, including to schools.

Interest in the Grand Challenges has led to several follow-up NAE activities and independent projects by other organizations.

More on This
  • [Subpage]

    2015 Global Grand Challenges Summit Student Day

    *** Suggested syllabus for developing business plan .*** *** Judging Criteria *** The second Global Grand Challenges Summit (GGCS) on the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering will be held in Beijing, China, on September 14-16, 2015. The Summit is ... Read More

  • [Subpage]

    Select Articles on Grand Challenges Scholars

    Lafayette students create self-designed majors that take on the Grand Challenges "Engineering education goes above and beyond" "University of Tennessee Students Complete Program with Skills to Tackle World’s Grand Challenges" Louisiana Tech issues a press ... Read More

  • [News]

    April 25, 2012

    Enter to win by downloading the USA Science & Engineering Festival Grand Challenges Passport app

    In honor of the USA Science and Engineering Festival Grand Challenges for Engineering tracks , the NAE has partnered with students at the University of Texas at El Paso to develop a Grand Challenges Passport mobile application. Kids (actually, anyone!) can download the NAE Grand Challenges ... Read More

  • [Press Release]

    May 11, 2011

    NAE Recognizes 2011 Grand Challenges Scholars

    WASHINGTON – The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) congratulates 14 students for graduating as NAE Grand Challenges Scholars in 2011.  The students will receive diplomas this month from Duke University, Louisiana Tech University, and Olin College of Engineering.  There ... Read More

  • [Subpage]

    Grand Challenges Advisory Committee

    In forming the Grand Challenges for Engineering committee, the NAE sought leading thinkers with a wide range of expertise and experience. This project brings together a diverse group of people dedicated to improving quality of life around the globe. Read More

  • [Flash Video]

    Prevent Terror

    Charles Vest, President of the National Academy of Engineering discusses how security threats in 21st century are different from those in the past.

    Duration: 73s

  • [Photo Album]

    Drexel Photo Contest

    Drexel students, faculty and staff were encouraged to submit photos that related to the Grand Challenges of Engineering in an effort to raise awareness of the challenges that await engineering solutions in four broad realms of human concern.

  • [Resource]

    Grand Challenges for Engineering Website

    The website created to announce the Grand Challenges for Engineering as determined by the NAE committee.

  • [Project]

    In Progress

    Summit Series on the Grand Challenges

    Series of summits for leading scientists and engineers, educators, policy leaders, innovators and corporate executives to sustain critical dialogue and engagement with grand challenges Read More

Project Status
Project Sponsor

National Science Foundation