Grand Challenges

Grand Challenges for the betterment of universe and humankind have been recognized by various agencies. These challenges are often associated with priority resources and opportunities for research, innovation and business development.

From the NAE Website: In the modern era, the Industrial Revolution brought engineering’s influence to every niche of life, as machines supplemented and replaced human labor for countless tasks, improved systems for sanitation enhanced health, and the steam engine facilitated mining, powered trains and ships, and provided energy for factories. As the population grows and its needs and desires expand, the problem of sustaining civilization’s continuing advancement, while still improving the quality of life, looms more immediate. Old and new threats to personal and public health demand more effective and more readily available treatments. Vulnerabilities to pandemic diseases, terrorist violence, and natural disasters require serious searches for new methods of protection and prevention. And products and processes that enhance the joy of living remain a top priority of engineering innovation, as they have been since the taming of fire and the invention of the wheel.

In each of these broad realms of human concern — sustainability, health, vulnerability, and joy of living — specific grand challenges await engineering solutions. The world’s cadre of engineers will seek ways to put knowledge into practice to meet these grand challenges. Applying the rules of reason, the findings of science, the aesthetics of art, and the spark of creative imagination, engineers will continue the tradition of forging a better future.

Grand Challenges in Engineering as recognized by National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as posted on the website.

  • Make solar energy economical
  • Provide energy from fusion
  • Develop carbon sequestration methods
  • Manage the nitrogen cycle
  • Provide access to clean water
  • Restore and improve urban infrastructure
  • Advance health informatics
  • Engineer better medicines
  • Reverse-engineer the brain
  • Prevent nuclear terror
  • Secure cyberspace
  • Enhance virtual reality
  • Advance personalized learning
  • Engineer the tools of scientific discovery


Grand Challenges In Global Health

The Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative fosters scientific and technological innovation to solve key health problems in the developing world. The initiative includes the Grand Challenges in Global Health grant program and the newer Grand Challenges Explorations grant program. The Top Ten Grand Challenges in Global Health are:

  • Create Effective Single Dose Vaccines That Can Be Used Soon After Birth
  • Prepare Vaccines that Do Not Require Refrigeration
  • Develop Needle-Free Delivery Systems
  • Devise Reliable Tests in Model Systems to Evaluate Live Attenuated Vaccines
  • Solve How to Design Antigens for Effective, Protective Immunity
  • Learn Which Immunological Responses Provide Protective Immunity
  • Develop a Biological Strategy to Deplete or Incapacitate a Disease-transmitting Insect Population
  • Develop a Chemical Strategy to Deplete or Incapacitate a Disease-transmitting Insect Population
  • Create a Full Range of Optimal, Bioavailable Nutrients in a Single Staple Plant Species
  • Discover Drugs and Delivery Systems that Minimize the Likelihood of Drug Resistant Micro-organisms

From the website: Grand Challenges in Global Health is a family of grant programs focused on one unifying purpose: To overcome persistent bottlenecks in creating new tools that can radically improve health in the developing world. Grand Challenges in Global Health was launched in 2003, and several years later - 45 grants totaling $458 million were awarded for research projects involving scientists in 33 countries. These projects were managed by teams working in partnership across disciplines, sectors, and countries, and many featured work from leaders in fields such as chemistry, engineering, statistics, and business, who had never before focused on global health. New Grand Challenges in Global Health projects are currently under way.

Recognizing that great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, in 2008 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched Grand Challenges Explorations, a $100 million program to encourage even bolder and less conventional solutions.

Grand Challenges Explorations is an agile, accelerated grant initiative with short two-page applications and no preliminary data required. Anyone with a bold idea that shows great promise can apply. Applications are submitted online, and winning grants are chosen approximately 4 months from the submission deadline. Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

More information is available on the website.


DARPA Grand Challenge

The DARPA Grand Challenge is a prize competition for American autonomous vehicles, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the most prominent research organization of the United States Department of Defense. Congress has authorized DARPA to award cash prizes to further DARPA's mission to sponsor revolutionary, high-payoff research that bridges the gap between fundamental discoveries and military use. The initial DARPA Grand Challenge was created to spur the development of technologies needed to create the first fully autonomous ground vehicles capable of completing a substantial off-road course within a limited time. The third event, the DARPA Urban Challenge extended the initial Challenge to autonomous operation in a mock urban environment. The 2012 DARPA Robotics Challenge  focused on autonomous emergency-maintenance robots.

NJIT Student team, Highlander Racing, participated in the DARPA Urban Challenge competition with an autonomous car and were succeeded in reaching to the site visit round in the national competition. More information is on the website.