The world is continually becoming congested as the population slowly approaches 7 billion. This population will consume more, pollute more, and require conveniences that come with urbanization and the desire for clean water and clean air. Given these changing dynamics, engineers are now faced with a collective responsibility to satisfy the lives of people around the world while still preserving the carrying capacity of our ecosystems.
So the question then becomes, what should be done now and in the near future to ensure that the basic needs for water, sanitation, nutrition, health, safety, and meaningful work are fulfilled for all humans? The National Academy of Engineering has called engineers to action by identifying the 14 “Grand Challenges” that need to be solved to ensure the planet’s survival.
The challenges are:
- providing access to clean water;
- preventing nuclear terror;
- engineering better medicines;
- advancing health informatics;
- making solar energy economical;
- developing carbon sequestration methods;
- securing cyberspace;
- reverse-engineering the brain;
- managing the nitrogen cycle;
- providing energy from fusion;
- restoring and improving urban infrastructure;
- engineering the tools of scientific discovery;
- enhancing virtual reality; and
- advancing personalized learning.
So, which one will you tackle?