Summit to tackle global engineering challenges

14 November 2012
By Anna Kårhammar
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RAE Global Grand Challenges Summit

RAE Global Grand Challenges Summit

An inaugural international event is set to take place in London in March 2013, bringing together leading engineering talent from around the world in an effort to find solutions to the most pressing global engineering challenges, the Royal Academy of Engineering has announced.

The Global Grand Challenges Summit takes its inspiration from the US National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 2008 report “Grand Challenges for the 21st Century”.

Produced by an international panel of leading scientists and engineers, the report highlighted broad realms of human concern – sustainability, health, vulnerability, and joy of living – in each of which were found ‘specific grand challenges’ that ‘await engineering solutions’.

The panel identified a total of 14 grand challenges for engineering. The challenges are ranked according to number of votes received by visitors to the NAE website during February-June 2008. The top five challenges are: Make solar energy economical; Provide energy from fusion; Develop carbon sequestration methods; Manage the nitrogen cycle, and Provide access to clean water.

“This major international event will push for a sea change in the way engineers interact with each other with other disciplines, with policymakers and with society at large,” said Sir John Parker FREng, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The idea behind the event is that, having already identified these grand challenges, which engineers have the tools to address, it becomes necessary to now establish an approach to meeting the challenges. 

“We will only solve these [challenges] if we become more systematic in the way we educate, innovate, and collaborate,” said Parker.

“The prosperity of future generations relies on unprecedented levels of interdisciplinary and international cooperation in pursuit of solutions to global challenges,” agreed Charles Vest, president of the US National Academy of Engineering.

The event will feature speakers including Bill Gates (via satellite), Professor Frances Arnold, Lord Darzi, Dame Professor Ann Dowling, Professor John Hennessy and Dr Regina E. Dugan.

Sessions will be held which draw on the 14 grand challenges, focusing on issues of sustainability, health, education, technology and growth, enriching life and resilience.

The Royal Academy of Engineering and the US and Chinese national academies of engineering are all working together on the event, in partnership with Lockheed Martin and the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The Global Grand Challenges Summit will take place on 12 and 13 March 2013 at 2 Savoy Place, London.

Further information

To register, email: international@raeng.org.uk.

Keep up to date with developments via twitter: @RAEngNews 

Further information on the event: www.raeng.org.uk/grandchallenges

For the 14 Grand Challenges: www.engineeringchallenges.org

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