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Raleigh Hosts Regional Grand Challenge Summit

At first blush, engineering better medicines, nuclear security and safeguards, and developing fusion energy might not seem to have that much in common.

While these indeed are three of the 14 main challenges facing the world, according to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), these disparate topics are also the main topics of the first of a series of five Summit events being held across the country this spring. The Raleigh Summit kickoff event starts March 3 at sites on the campus of North Carolina State University (NCSU).

The Summits are a follow up to the national NAE Grand Challenge Summit held in Durham last year, and serves as a lead-in to the second National Grand Challenge Summit planned for Oct. 6 -7 in Los Angeles.

Duke has partnered with NC State to host the Raleigh Summit.  NC State’s Dean of Engineering, Louis Martin-Vega, was a panelist in last year’s Summit and was enthusiastic about co-hosting another such event with Pratt’s Dean, Tom Katsouleas

“The Raleigh Summit is a venue to help prepare the next generation of engineers to address the ‘grand challenges’ that will shape the 21st century. We plan to touch on all fourteen Grand Challenges through a general discussion of American innovation and competitiveness and so should be of interest to all engineering disciplines,” said Katsouleas. “Addressing issues this complex requires innovation and cooperation from engineers of all kinds, as well as policy makers, economists, geologists, biologists and sociologists.

“The participants should leave the Summit with a heightened awareness of the link between technology and public policy on the world stage,” he said. “We hope to have a diverse audience of industry, the public, students and academics to make the Summit an impactful experience.”

The Raleigh Summit begins March 3 with activities aimed at students, and the next two days will include sessions with such speakers as Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric; Kristina Johnson, Undersecretary for Energy, U.S. Department of Energy and former Pratt dean; John T. Chambers, chairman and CEO of CISCO; and Ted Kaufman, Senator (D, Delaware) and engineer.

Like the previous 2009 Summit event, there will be a student design contest that is open to any university student. The theme is “Improving Human Wellbeing in the Developing World.” The competition is open to all fourteen NAE Grand Challenges as applied in the limited resource setting of the developing world.  Example topics include, but are not limited to, practical applications in nutrition, agriculture, diagnostics, drug delivery, disease vector control, urban design, solar energy, water access, or water treatment.

The regional competitions will serve as the qualifying round to identify the best designs that will go on to compete in the finals at the National Grand Challenge Summit in Los Angeles in Fall 2010.

The dates for the other Summit events are as follows:

Phoenix -- April 8-9, 2010. The topics are engineering better medicines, managing the nitrogen cycle, making solar energy economical, and advancing personalized learning.

Chicago -- April 21-22, 2010. The topics are developing carbon sequestration methods, providing access to clean water, restoring and renewing urban infrastructure, and engineering better medicines.

Boston -- April 21, 2010. The topic is the educational imperatives of the Grand Challenges.

Seattle -- May 2-3, 2010. The topics are engineering better medicines and engineering the tools of scientific discovery.

For more information, or to register, click here.