Issue 2: 12 February 2013
Grand challenges graphic

Engineering Grand Challenges

On 12-13 March the IET hosts a major international summit in London organised by the national engineering academies of the UK, US and China to discuss progress on 14 'grand challenges' identified five years ago by America's National Academy of Engineering. We look at what they are and how close the world is to solving them.

Man wearing a cap with wires coming out of it

Scientists may be able to improve treatments for neurodegenerative conditions, and even make faster computers, by figuring out how the human brain learns and remembers.

A straight road vanishing into the horizon

Few road networks conjure up the romance of those in the US, but what technology lies beneath the asphalt?

MetOp satellite

The future of the satellite launch is cubed: meet the Jack-in-the-box that can carry your experiment into orbit on a realistic budget

Global Grand Challenges
E&T cover image 0213

The Global Grand Challenges are the issues identified by engineers as the greatest problems for the century ahead. How can engineering help to solve them?

The E&T podcast: twitching technology

Features editor Vitali Vitaliev heads to Rutland Water Nature Reserve to speak to senior reserve officer Tim Mackrill about technology in bird watching.
Also in this issue
Stock view of a Rover electric vehicle driving a muddy track.

Analysis: safe-code revision grapples with automated checking  ET arr

The Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA), a group that developed one of the most widely-used coding standards for safe, reliable software, launched at Embedded World, Nuremberg this week, marking the first major update to the standard for almost a decade.

The exhibition halls of the 2013 Detroit Motor Show

Analysis: EVs stall at Detroit Auto Show 2013  ET arr

The acolytes of the electric vehicle (EV) were out in force manning the stands and strolling the halls at Detroit, but the feeling still remains that their rhetoric is growing strained. Despite substantial marketing and cash incentives their sales are still frankly discouraging and show little sign of matching the propaganda.

Split Heels - 3D printed shoes

3D printing puts small-scale shoe-designers back into game  ET arr

E&T interviews a trained architect who transitioned into the field of shoe design two years ago, who believes 3D printing will drive innovation in the industry by opening it up to small-scale designers.

Blackfriars solar installation

If the price is right  ET arr

Is it really possible that, as many people anticipate, solar energy could meet almost one-third of the world's energy demand by 2060? Well, if that's going to happen, it will have to become a lot more economical.

Immigration map

The rules of attraction  ET arr

With China offering lucrative incentives to engineering graduates, what can the United States of America do to keep the world's top talent focused on Silicon Valley?

A still from the film Pirates of the Caribbean

Piracy on the high-tech seas  ET arr

Can piracy really have played a major role in defining business models that bring technology to the people? Nick Smith talks to an author whose new book claims that Jack Sparrow could teach us a thing or two about competitive strategy.

The Grassmaster at work

Sports technology - artificial grass  ET arr

With the advent of artificial pitches in the 1980s grass seemed to have had its day, but new hybrid technology is giving it a new lease of life.

Coal plant

Conquering carbon  ET arr

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.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling

Interview with Professor Dame Ann Dowling  ET arr

As the IET gets set to host the Global Grand Challenges Summit next month, Professor Dame Ann Dowling, who is chairing the steering committee, talks about the challenges in her life - engineering, scientific, educational and human.

Water supply graphic

War on water shortage  ET arr

Water supplies are facing new threats, but affordable, advanced technologies could make a difference for millions of people.

Cloud storage flow diagram

Consumer cloud storage  ET arr

The ubiquity of the Internet has enabled consumers to store data on cloud services - but what's the catch?

Storm clouds over London

Public sector cloud: casting shadow over traditional IT skills?  ET arr

Cloud computing models are changing the way governments procure – and at the same time look set to usher in a period of profound change for public-sector IT careers.

Emergency services using radios

Crisis communication innovation  ET arr

The resilience of communications is constantly tested during and after a major disaster. For this reason companies are creating innovative ways to ensure communication is maintained between the emergency services.

CCTV Tower, Beijing

Futurescape  ET arr

Advanced technology can improve our urban infrastructure, but the heart of any city still lies with its inhabitants.

E&T energy cartoon showing an office being powered by wind turbines

A major disconnect exists between technology and sustainability that has to be bridged  ET arr

Engineers have to start working closely with scientists and business, says Professor Andy Hopper

Robotic hand at Hannover Messe

Hannover Messe 2013: industrial integration will prove key.  ET arr

E&T magazine is again a preferred media partner for this year's Hannover Messe showcase of industrial and engineering technology innovation. This last of three previews surveys in brief the technology-specific trade shows that make-up Hannover Messe 2013 - and includes details of FREE ENTRY for IET members.


For and Against: Solar Energy


Solar energy already makes economic sense and its applications can be increased immediately

Profile: Gage Williams OBE

Gage Williams OBE is a former infantry brigadier and CEO of West Country Renewables. He is also a director at the Renewable Energy Office for Cornwall



Solar energy may appear to have the potential to be economical but there are hidden costs

Profile: Ozzie Zehner

Ozzie Zehner is a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and the author of ‘Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism’.

Solar is the future for clean and cheap energy

Please log in to contribute to this debate.

Agree 71%
Disagree 29%
The big picture
Dakar Rally
Big Numbers
Belkin WeMo range

At CES the WeMo socket, WeMo motion detector and WeMo baby monitor were joined by a light switch

Cookoo Watch

Waterproof watch that wirelessly links to smartphones, with notifications on its face

Lego Mindstorms EV3

Combining central processing blocks and plug-in sensors, EV3 includes Linux CPU with Wi-Fi and app control

Razer Edge

Gaming-focused Windows 8 tablet with enough power to run high-end PC games

Scanadu Scout

Hold to forehead to scan heartrate, temperature, pulse, electrical heart activity and blood oxygenation

Sony Xperia Z

The Xperia packs 4G, a 13MP camera, 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 2GB memory - plus it’s water resistant


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