Chair* Vice President Emeritus Advanced Technology Pixar Animation Studios
Vice-Chair Senior Scientist and Research Group Lead Pixar Animation Studios
Virginia Commonwealth University
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We want you to review the 14 NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering described below, then create a video that shows how achieving one or more of the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering will lead to a more sustainable, healthy, secure, and/or joyous world!
Please note there is no particular order to the 14 Grand Challenges listed below. The information provided on this page serves as a simple introduction to each of the Grand Challenges. Video contest entrants should visit the Grand Challenges for Engineering website www.engineeringchallenges.org for more in-depth information about the challenges to be included in videos submissions.
Make Solar Energy Economical Currently, solar energy provides less than 1 percent of the world's total energy, but it has the potential to provide much, much more.
Provide Energy from Fusion Fusion is the energy source for the sun. The challenges facing the engineering community are to find ways to scale up the fusion process to commercial proportions, in an efficient, economical, and environmentally benign way.
Develop Carbon Sequestration Methods The growth in emissions of carbon dioxide, implicated as a prime contributor to global warming, is a problem that can no longer be swept under the rug. But perhaps it can be buried deep underground or beneath the ocean.
Manage the Nitrogen Cycle It doesn’t offer as catchy a label as “global warming,” but human-induced changes in the global nitrogen cycle pose engineering challenges just as critical as coping with the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels for energy.
Provide Access to Clean Water: About 1 out of every 6 people living today do not have adequate access to water, and more than double that number lack basic sanitation, for which water is needed. It's not that the world does not possess enough water - it is just not always located where it is needed.
Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure Infrastructure is the combination of fundamental systems that support a community, region, or country. Society faces the formidable challenge of modernizing the fundamental structures that will support our civilization in centuries ahead.
Advance Health Informatics As computers have become available for all aspects of human endeavors, there is now a consensus that a systematic approach to health informatics - the acquisition, management, and use of information in health - can greatly enhance the quality and efficiency of medical care and the response to widespread public health emergencies.
Engineer Better Medicines Engineering can enable the development of new systems to use genetic information, sense small changes in the body, assess new drugs, and deliver vaccines to provide health care directly tailored to each person.
Reverse-Engineer the Brain: A lot of research has been focused on creating thinking machines—computers capable of emulating human intelligence— however, reverse-engineering the brain could have multiple impacts that go far beyond artificial intelligence and will promise great advances in health care, manufacturing, and communication.
Prevent Nuclear Terror Engineering shares the formidable challenges of finding the dangerous nuclear material in the world, keeping track of it, securing it, and detecting its diversion or transport for terrorist use.
Secure Cyberspace Computer systems are involved in the management of almost all areas of our lives; from electronic communications, and data systems, to controlling traffic lights to routing airplanes. It is clear that engineering needs to develop innovations for addressing a long list of cybersecurity priorities
Enhance Virtual Reality Within many specialized fields, from psychiatry to education, virtual reality is becoming a powerful new tool for training practitioners and treating patients, in addition to its growing use in various forms of entertainment.
Advance Personalized Learning A growing appreciation of individual preferences and aptitudes has led toward more “personalized learning,” in which instruction is tailored to a student’s individual needs. Given the diversity of individual preferences, and the complexity of each human brain, developing teaching methods that optimize learning will require engineering solutions of the future.
Engineer the Tools for Scientific Discovery Grand experiments and missions of exploration always need engineering expertise to design the tools, instruments, and systems that make it possible to acquire new knowledge about the physical and biological worlds.
The 14 NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering fall under four themes: Health, Sustainability, Security, and Joy of Living. The following four videos provide some examples of challenges and opportunities in each of the theme areas.