National Academies Auditorium
2101 Constition Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20011
Nathan Kahl
Contact Nathan Kahl

Grand Challenges for Engineering: Moving to Action - Podcast

Representatives of the presidential campaigns of Sens. Obama and McCain, journalists, and members of the National Academy of Engineering's committee on the "Grand Challenges for Engineering" participated in a lively discussion of how to encourage action on this century's greatest engineering challenges and opportunities. The participants agreed that if met, any of the 14 challenges would improve life around the world.

View a video of this event on the Research Channel.

The Grand Challenges for Engineering project is designed to spark public discussion and awareness that engineering is essential to addressing current and emerging societal issues. Meeting the challenges will require the support of the public and policy makers. As we stand about a month before the U.S. presidential election, we hope to inspire an informed conversation about the hurdles of public backing and policy issues that stand in the way of addressing the Grand Challenges for Engineering.

Moderator: Aaron Brown, Walter Cronkite Professor of Journalism, Arizona State University, host of PBS series Wide Angle, former CNN and ABC News anchor

9:30 a.m. Welcome
Charles M. Vest, president, National Academy of Engineering, former president of MIT
9:40 a.m. Overview of the Grand Challenges
The Honorable William J. Perry*, professor, Stanford University, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, and chair of the
Grand Challenges for Engineering committee
10:00 a.m.

Panel Discussion
How do we more effectively communicate the Grand Challenges, and the steps necessary to address them, to the public?


  • Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist, author of The World is Flat and Hot, Flat, and Crowded
  • Bernadine Healy*, U.S. News & World Report columnist, former head of the National Institutes of Health and the American Red Cross
  • Ray Kurzweil*, Chairman and CEO, Kurzweil Technologies, author of The Singularity is Near (participating via video conference from China)
  • Daniel Sieberg, CBS News science and technology correspondent
10:45 a.m. Audience Q&A Session
11:00 a.m. Break

11:15 a.m

Panel Discussion
How can a more substantive discussion about the Challenges be generated in policy and political circles? How do we address the challenges through the political process? Is government even organized in a way to effectively deal with grand challenges that cross-cut many disciplines and can't be stove-piped into the programs of DOE, EPA, NSF, etc.


  • Lord Alec Broers*, UK House of Lords/former vice chancellor of Cambridge University
  • Carly Fiorina, representing the McCain campaign/former CEO of Hewlett-Packard
  • Paul Kaminski, representing the Obama campaign/former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology
Noon Audience Q&A Session
12:15 p.m. Wrap-up

*Grand Challenges for Engineering Committee Member

For additional information contact Nathan Kahl at or 202-334-2226.