Summit to address engineering’s Grand Challenges

14 February 2013
By Dominic Lenton
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The global summit will be held at Savoy Place
The global summit will be held at Savoy Place

Top figures from the world of science and engineering including genomics pioneer Dr Craig Venter and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates will be speaking at a major event to be hosted by the IET in London this spring.

The Global Grand Challenges Summit, which takes place on 12 and 13 March at the IET’s Savoy Place building, has been organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering in collaboration with its counterparts in the US and China.

The aim is to explore new ways of improving global sustainability, resilience, health, education, economic growth and overall quality of life, based on 14 themes identified by US National Academy of Engineering’s 2008 report ‘Grand Challenges for the 21st Century’ (details at www.engineeringchallenges.org).

Venter and Gates will be among a line-up that includes Harvard University global development authority Professor Calestous Juma, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, FIRST founder Dean Kamen, Arup director of international development Jo da Silva, and Autonomy founder Dr Mike Lynch.

Sir William Wakeham, senior vice-president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, expects some radical thinking from the 400 participants, who will be coming from all over the world.

“It is time to think differently about engineering,” he said. “Engineering innovation is a key factor in restoring global growth.

"Engineers are constantly looking for new ways both to use existing technologies and to apply radical thinking – this is the how the human race will address the formidable problems of providing energy and water, food and shelter for all.”

As well as the IET, the summit is backed by Lockheed Martin and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Although tickets are now sold out it will be broadcast to venues in Birmingham and Glasgow where participants will be able to watch all the presentations and participate in Q&A sessions. 

Further information:

For details and to register for these satellite events, see http://conferences.theiet.org/grand-challenges/

A special section starting on page 32 of this month’s E&T reviews the grand challenges and talks to summit steering committee chair Professor Dame Ann Dowling.

IET President Andy Hopper give his perspective on the initiative in our Comment column on page 27.

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